Rory Reid, the front-running Democratic candidate for governor, called Thursday for stronger ethics laws and changes designed to make government more transparent and accountable to Nevadans.
"Nevada needs a foundation of trust," he said during an interview at Comma Coffee in Carson City.
He said the state needs to close loopholes in existing law, including the fact that lawmakers can lobby state agencies in their private business role.
"Legislators who have a huge influence on agency budgets can now legally lobby the same agencies on behalf of a private business," he said.
Reid said he called for similar changes in Southern Nevada when he was first elected to the Clark County Commission.
He said he also objects to the fact that, if an official is found to have committed an ethical violation but that it wasn't willful, there's no penalty.
In addition, he said ethics training should be made mandatory for elected officials, administrators, employees and lobbyists.
"We need to teach what the ethics laws are. If they're violated then, there ought to be a penalty."
He said stronger ethics laws should also help the state draw more businesses.
"Business needs to have confidence in the system they're investing in," he said. "They need to feel the decisions made are made for the right reasons."
Reid also called for a two-year cooling off period before ex-lawmakers or state employees can lobby on behalf of private interests. Existing state law applies a cooling-off period only to the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission - one year before they can work for or in the gaming industry.
He emphasized he isn't calling for stronger ethics laws to accuse anyone of anything.
"The government system needs to be above reproach," he said.
Reid also called for improved transparency at every level of Nevada government, starting with the executive branch. He said his official schedule will be public and he will hold regular press conferences if elected, as well as periodic town hall meetings. He said department heads will be told to do the same.
"The people of Nevada deserve to know what state government is doing," he said.