Legislative leaders call for cooperation to continue last session’s advancements | 2017 Nevada Legislature | NevadaAppeal.com

Legislative leaders call for cooperation to continue last session’s advancements | 2017 Nevada Legislature

Senate and Assembly leaders urged fellow members to continue the bipartisan accomplishments of the 2015 session.

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said the 2015 Legislature diversified the tax structure, “so that, above all else, we could restore funding for our children in public schools.”

“Despite that significant bipartisan effort, our work is not done,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said his goals this session are to “enact legislation to help hard working Nevadans succeed.”

He too called for continued improvements to public education. He said he will work for “an equal pay bill with teeth.” He promised bills to give workers earned sick leave on their jobs, expanded vocational and job opportunities and to make child care more affordable.

“We will focus on protecting our constitutional rights, all of them,” he said adding that includes the right to vote, to organize and to again strengthen collective bargaining and other protections weakened in 2015.

Frierson too said lawmakers will work to create a workplace environment embracing equal pay and that is free from discrimination against minorities, women and LGBT community members.

He called for bipartisan cooperation.

“At a time when political rhetoric and hyper partisanship have defined politics in D.C. we have an opportunity to show the country what a citizen’s legislature and bipartisan government is capable of accomplishing,” he said.

Frierson made it clear, however that the school vouchers program won’t have an easy ride in a Democrat controlled Legislature.

“We must invest in an educational system that provides broad opportunities for all of Nevada’s children, not just a select few,” Frierson said.

Ford emphasized that he wants a much more collegial tone in the upper house.

“Obviously we won’t agree nor do we have to agree on every piece of legislation,” Ford said. “We will consider our differences of opinion without prematurely quashing debate. We will not be combative. We will discuss and debate but we will not destroy one another.”

That was a reference to the rule changes implemented by Micheal Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who was Majority Leader in 2015 that severely restricted minority debate and amendments.

“Some pundits and commentators don’t give us much chance of getting along,” Ford said. “Let’s show them you and I can work together,” he said to Roberson.

Their comments came after the normal ceremonial procedures to convene the 79th regular legislative session — including the election of Frierson as the first African American Assembly Speaker.

After that process was completed, both houses approved Senate Bill 1 providing $15 million to pay for the operation of the 2017 Legislature.

Then they suspended the normal rules to expedite introduction of more than 100 pieces of legislation in each house, closing out day one of the 120-day session.

With more than 200 bills introduced, several committees will begin work on Day 2 including the Senate Finance Committee.