On Jan. 3, Joe Lombardo was inaugurated as the 31st governor of Nevada. With that, we entered into a new era in state government, namely, an era that sees power divided between the two parties. In other words, a divided government.
This marks a significant change, because for the previous four years Democrats had controlled both houses of the legislature and the Governor’s Mansion simultaneously. With Gov. Lombardo, Democrats must contend with the possibility of a very active veto pen, and the governor’s office will have to contend with a more adversarial Legislature.
So what does this mean for you and your businesses? Possibly a lot. Contrary to popular opinion, it is more likely that state government has a bigger impact on your day-to-day life than federal or local government does. Which means that if you live and work in Nevada, what happens in Carson City probably has more of an impact on you than what happens in Washington, D.C., or at city hall. This is namely because powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved for the states themselves. There is no such restriction on the state government which means there is a lot more at play at the state level.
Nevada is one of only four states (along with Montana, North Dakota and Texas) who have biennial legislatures. That means that our Legislature only convenes for a regular legislative session every other year. That is not the norm. Forty-six states meet for regular session every year, which means that if you are a resident of those other four states, you only get one bite at the legislative apple every two years. That being the case, if you have a business that is facing some regulatory or legislative challenges, it is imperative that you understand how that process works because if you miss an upcoming session you may have to wait for two years.
Nevada’s once-every-two-years legislative session starts Monday. What can business expect from this legislative session? Specifically, how can you get your business’ concerns and challenges on the legislative radar or is it too late now? Some of us may be familiar with how a bill becomes a law if we can remember back to civics class, but how does it actually work in the real world and specifically how does it work in Carson City?
I would like to share some things I have learned having worked in multiple roles over the past several legislative sessions starting in 2011. Since that time I have worn several different hats including that of deputy legislative legal counsel, government affairs director on behalf of multiple private sector clients, executive director of a statewide non-profit, and now in my current role as general counsel and director of government affairs for Community Health Alliance. As a result, I have come to learn some tips and tricks that may help to get your issue discussed and acted on at the legislative level. These include:
• Understanding and recognizing the importance of the legislative calendar;
• Understanding the legislative process as a whole;
• Understanding the importance of committees and their respective chairman or chairwoman;
• Understanding the importance of budget negotiations and its effect on every potential piece of legislation;
• Understanding the importance of a fiscal note on any piece of legislation.
If this is something that interests you, come learn more about how to get your business’ challenges on the legislative radar at NCET’s Biz Café on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
NCET is a member-supported, nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. Information can be found at www.NCET.org.
Victor Salcido is general counsel and director of government affairs for Community Health Alliance, a nonprofit organization that has six health center sites, as well as a mobile clinic, throughout Washoe County. Community Health Alliance is a federally-qualified health center serving at-risk and underserved populations and offers primary medical care, dental care and behavioral health care, along with full in-house pharmacies and prescription food pantries at select locations.
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