O’Neill embraces bipartisanship but cautions on budget

Nevada Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill talks to the Carson City Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 6.

Nevada Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill talks to the Carson City Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 6.
Photo by Scott Neuffer.

When Carson City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ronni Hannaman introduced P.K. O’Neill as the new state Assembly minority leader at a meeting Tuesday, O’Neill joked that it was like “announcing I’m up for execution.”

The Republican assemblyman for District 40, representing Carson City, will be facing a Democratic majority when the Legislature convenes in February. However, O’Neill sees it as an opportunity for both bipartisanship and to advance Republican Gov.-elect Joe Lombardo’s agenda, he told chamber members.

O’Neill serves on Lombardo’s transition team. He said economic diversity, education and public safety will be priorities. At the same time, he said lawmakers should be careful with a projected surplus for the upcoming biennium. He said the Economic Forum has forecast revenue of $11.4 billion, versus a current $9 billion budget. He pointed to rising costs and a potential economic downturn looming on the horizon.

“We still have to justify our operations,” he said.

O’Neill said the government’s job is to provide the best services possible at the most reasonable costs. He said it’s beneficial not to have one-party control and to embrace “checks and balances.”

That doesn’t mean as minority leader – named in November – he won’t advocate for what he believes in.

“We anticipate there will be well over 1,000 bill draft requests,” he said of the upcoming session.

O’Neill said he will support bills that benefit Nevada, whether Republican or Democrat.

“I do believe we’re here for the good of the state,” he said.

O’Neill himself has submitted eight BDRs so far. He discussed several priorities, including making harm inflicted on animals a violent crime, limiting private marijuana grows – a request that came from Carson City – and exempting, one time, transfer fees for property owners seeking clear title in Virginia City.

O’Neill would also like to see Nevada enter a nurse compact, so nurses licensed in other states could work in Nevada without having to restart the licensure process.

“I believe it’s a good policy for the state of Nevada,” he said, adding recent shortages of medical personnel are “snowballing.”

Regarding bills he will fight, O’Neill said he will stand in “deep opposition” to a forthcoming Democratic proposal to legalize psilocybin mushrooms. He said people with strong opinions should show up in the legislative process and let their voices be heard.

“Please, stay active,” he said. “Come follow things.”

Hannaman asked if the incoming governor will be Vegas-centric or include Northern Nevada in decision-making.

O’Neill said the governor-elect is already reaching out to, and has been including, members of rural counties.

“We are looking forward to you making sure he (the governor-elect) is part of our community as well,” Hannaman said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment