Democrats dig heels in on GOP handling of vouchers resolution
Democrats on the Legislative Commission dug in their heels on Monday to protest Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson’s handling of a last minute resolution designed to back up the school vouchers program.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 of the Faraday special session in December spelled out the so-called Educational Savings Accounts program was intended to allow both children under age 7 and children of active military families out from under the requirement they attend public school 100 days before they could get the ESA money. Those exemptions aren’t spelled out in Senate Bill 302, the vouchers bill.
The objection, according to Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, was the resolution aimed at supporting those changes was run through the special session at the last minute then through the commission subcommittee to review regulations rather than the full Legislative Commission.
As a result, all six Democrats on the commission refused to support adding a Republican to that subcommittee. That leaves the panel split 3-3 despite the fact the majority party normally has a 4-3 majority.
“It’s an issue of trust, frankly,” Ford told Roberson. “The last day of the special session was sprung upon us this resolution.”
He said that issue should have been brought before the whole commission, which is split 6-6 between the parties.
Roberson said it was put through the subcommittee because the state Treasurer needed the regulations in place before the end of the year and there wasn’t a Legislative Commission meeting scheduled until after that.
Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, the first Republican nominee rejected on a 6-6 vote, said the action “is going to set a bad precedent going forward.” He said it would drive the legislature toward even more partisanship instead of working together.
Roberson expressed surprise at the Democratic stand.
“This is not a controversial issue,” he said. “Whichever party controls the legislature, they have an extra member or two in some cases on the subcommittee to review regulations.”
But Ford And Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, said they asked Roberson to put off the nomination for that vacant subcommittee seat but chose not to.
Roberson put off the nomination until the commission’s next meeting.