Reid calls for end of legal brothels

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to a joint session of the Nevada Legislature on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to a joint session of the Nevada Legislature on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

In calling for an end to legal brothels in Nevada, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., rattled some cages Tuesday, and followed up by urging lawmakers to repeal the state's term-limits amendment.

He told the Nevada Legislature when he met with businessmen who run high tech data centers, one of them made it clear legal prostitution in Storey County where they are considering locating was a big issue.

"I've talked to families who feel the same way - parents who don't want their children to look out of a school bus and see a brothel or to live in a state with the wrong kind of red lights," he said in his speech to the joint session of the Senate and Assembly. "So lets have an adult conversation about an adult subject. Nevada needs to be known as the first place for innovation and investment, not the last place where prostitution is still legal."

That line drew weak applause from lawmakers and the gallery.

Reid concluded that portion of his address by telling lawmakers: "If we want to attract business to Nevada that puts people back to work, the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution."

Despite waiting a full five seconds after that remark, there was no applause.

With the exception of Clark County, where prostitution was banned by state law, the issue has been up to the counties in Nevada. Prostitution is illegal in Douglas, Washoe and Lincoln counties, as well as Carson City.

Many rural counties in Nevada have legal brothels. A couple of counties have no law on the subject either allowing or prohibiting the world's oldest profession.

George Flint, lobbyist for the brothel association, said there are 24 legal and licensed brothels operating in the state at present.

A good share of the rest of Reid's speech was devoted to term limits which he said was a mistake on the part of the voters. The impact of term limits was felt this past election when the 12-year limit on holding a given office took effect. As a result, nearly half the Nevada Assembly and fully half the Senate is new.

Local elected officials including mayors also are term limited by the constitutional amendment.

Reid said those limits are counterproductive and prevent proven leaders with invaluable experience from continuing in office.

"These restrictions don't limit terms; they limit our ability to move forward," he said.

"We don't need artificial term limits," Reid said. "After all, we already have natural ones. They're called elections."

Reid said turning away those long term politicians robs Nevadans of vital expertise.

"We should not forget that term limits leave behind a vacuum of institutional knowledge," he said. "The ones who fill that vacuum are unelected lobbyists, legislative staff and special interests."

Reid also urged lawmakers to join in efforts to improve education in Nevada saying Congress is trying to reform No Child Left Behind.

"Let's admit that a one-size-fits-all approach to education fits nobody," he said.

Reid said the state currently ranks 50th in state contributions to education, adding that "our children really deserve better."

He objected to continuing cuts to education K-12 and higher education budgets saying "If our priority is producing a workforce that can compete with the rest of the world, let's legislate that way."

Reid said Nevada is positioned to become the leader in clean energy.

"Nevada is already to hub of renewable energy - our solar, wind and geothermal potential is unbeatable," he said.

Clean energy companies moving to the state, he said, will put Nevadans back to work with good jobs.

Reid is the first member of Nevada's congressional delegation to address the 2011 Legislature. Each of the other members also will address the session over the coming weeks.


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