Bill-drafting backlog will be an issue as a major deadline hits in a week

Republican Assembly members complained during a news conference last week that bills have been unusually slow coming out of the legal division.

Minority Leader Pat Hickey of Reno and Cresent Hardy of Mesquite said they think the problem is the need to sort out how to handle the case of Steven Brooks, the troubled Assembly member now facing a felony domestic violence charge.

"I just got my first one today," he said Thursday of receiving a bill.

They weren't the only ones. Several lobbyists have remarked about what they consider a very slow start to this legislative session.

As of the close of business Friday, 479 out of 1,193 bills and resolutions requested by lawmakers had been introduced in the Senate and Assembly. That means there still are 714 bill draft requests out there. They are either still being researched and written or being delivered to lawmakers but not yet introduced.

That backlog will become an issue in just over a week, when the Legislature's self-imposed March 18 deadline for individual legislators to introduce bills hits. The deadline for committee introductions comes just a week after that - March 25.

There is a number of factors that could explain what many in the building believe is a huge backlog, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Rick Combs said.

One involves Gov. Brian Sandoval's yearlong moratorium on new regulations by executive branch agencies. When that moratorium expired at the end of June, legal was hit with a flood of regulations to process, Combs said. That delayed drafting of pre-filed bills.

He acknowledged that the time spent researching how to handle the Brooks situation and his potential expulsion from the Assembly added to the problem.

A committee headed by Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, is considering the North Las Vegas Democrat's fitness to serve.

Other factors include a large number of freshmen unfamiliar with the process who may have needed more assistance from legal to get their requests in shape for drafting, Combs said.

He defended the legal division, saying it is just 54 bills behind where it was at this point in the 2011 session.

Although the Senate has far fewer freshmen now, measures have been coming in at the same pace in each house - 224 in the Assembly and 226 in the Senate as of Friday.

In addition, there are 11 Assembly resolutions in the mix, along with 18 Senate resolutions.

Just two bills have received final approval thus far - SB1, which funds the operation of the Legislature, and AB114, which puts Nevada into the Internet poker world.


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