Attorney General Adam Laxalt told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday he wants to reorganize the office to improve efficiency and effectiveness in providing services and customer service.
But he said despite the fact his plan calls for the addition of several high level positions, it won’t cost more than the amounts in the governor’s recommended budget. In fact, he said, he hopes to reduce that budget by about $500,000.
Once the changes are in place, Laxalt said, “I think we’ll start saving the state significant dollars.”
He said the plan involves adding a deputy Solicitor General to assist with handling the increasing number of appeals to both state and federal courts.
“The legal profession has become increasingly specialized over recent years and the appellate process has become more specialized,” he said. “It’s vital we have two prosecutors completely focused on that job.”
At present, Laxalt said appeals come up through all different state agencies. He said it’s important to have those cases all funnel through one office and reviewed to ensure the office is consistent in its positions.
He also asked for a General Counsel to handle all constitutional, statutory and ethical issues in the office. That post would also handle all public records requests and issues dealing with conflicts of interest.
Two other new positions would handle military legal assistance issues including finding lawyers willing to do pro bono (free) service for members of the military, and a senior deputy to run an office of neighborhood protection, monitoring and identifying crime trends and coordinating efforts with local law enforcement and prosecutors.
He said the plan involves reorganizing the four bureaus within the office and provide each of them with a chief. At present, he said only the Bureau of Consumer Protection has a chief in place. His plan would hire chiefs for the other three.
But Laxalt said those additions and changes will all be paid for with existing funds by reorganizing and moving positions around, not by adding costs.
He said a key element of that reorganization of bureaus would be to provide the ability to sue instead of cutting a settlement deal on every case.
“If we get into the business as a state of settling every case, the other side knows they can continue to push us higher and higher and higher,” he said. “We need the capacity to take cases to court so plaintiffs know they can’t get every settlement they want.”