Nevada lawmakersclose shop

Two weeks ago, former presidents told departing late-night host David Letterman the national nightmare is over.

As of late Monday night, it appears Nevada’s latest session has also come to an end.

We don’t know if we characterize the last five months as the state’s nightmare, a horror show, a success or a little of both. As with any elected board, however, we saw legislators who were well prepared, others who looked like Bambi in front of headlights and others afraid of their own shadows in pushing legislation to a vote within their respective committees.

Several bills caught the attention of Churchill County residents. Besides businessmen voicing opposition to the increased taxes on businesses proposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval and overwhelmingly passed by the Assembly and state Senate, other pieces of legislation having an impact here included state retirement benefits and funding for Western Nevada and Great Basin colleges.

What could have turned out worse for the Public Employees Retirement System did not. Current and retired public workers rallied around the state at town hall meetings — including one in Fallon attended by almost 200 people — or in the legislative chambers.

What’s new with retirement? Public workers hired on or after July 1, 2015, will see their annual credit at 2.25 percent of pay per year instead of 2.5 percent.

Police/fire members would, however, remain at 2.5 percent credit for each year of service.

The bill also requires PERS members other than police-fire employees to be at least 65 before retiring if they have five years service, 62 if 10 years and 55 with 30 years of service.

Retirees, though, will receive no more than 75 percent of the average of their highest three years of base pay.

This turned out to be a win-win for both state and employees by making PERS stronger for future generations of retirees. On the other hand, misguided Reno Assemblyman Randy Kirner, who saw his hybrid proposal scratched, intends to continue the fight with a study and have it ready for 2017. Some lawmakers are unrelentless.

In a related story in today’s LVN, lawmakers approved $5 million in bridge funding for the two community colleges affected by a new funding formula that went into effect a session ago.

The intent of bridge funding was to smooth the transition into the Board of Regents’ proposed budget, but it was eliminated in February by the governor’s office.

We found that ironic since Sandoval touted the need for community colleges and technical training to meet Nevada’s new needs for job training.

Likewise, many bills suffered mid-term or weekend deaths, causing many Nevadans to wonder if the Legislature encountered a case of trying to do too much.

One has to wonder.

Editorials are the opinion of the LVN Editorial Board.


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