Legislature opens for business
The 80th regular session of the Nevada Legislature opened for business on Monday — 45 minutes later than planned in part because of inclement weather in the state capital that by early afternoon closed non-essential offices and sent workers home.
But before adjourning for the day, Senators introduced a total of 129 pre-filed pieces of legislation and the Assembly put in 114.
All were referred to the appropriate committees for review and study, hopefully giving those standing committees work to do as soon as they get organized this week.
At least one chairman, Assembly Judiciary Chair Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, planned to begin hearing bills Tuesday.
Leadership at both ends of the building tried to strike a positive tone. Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, called on colleagues from both sides of the aisle to treat each other with respect and work together for the benefit of all Nevadans. With the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the membership — and the factthis legislature is the first in the nation to be majority women — he said Nevada lawmakers are being watched.
“Not only the eyes of the state on us but the eyes of the nation,” he said.
His counterpart Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, said the “extraordinary diversity” of this session’s membership is an opportunity “to show our state that, despite our many differences, we can be civil and polite.”
He said members must behave “with dignity, respect and tolerance.”
Assembly Minority Leader Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, described Frierson as a friend and said, “I know him to be open minded and fair.” He said while they all represent different districts that have dramatically different needs, “remember, we’re one Nevada.”
“You represent all of your constituents,” he said, “not just those who voted for you.”
While the Assembly Judiciary Committee plans to get right to work, the Senate Finance, Senate Judiciary and Assembly Ways and Means Committees will hold organizational and orientation sessions for members.
The afternoon committees of both houses will be doing much the same on Tuesday.
Ways and Means and Senate Finance get down to work on Wednesday with hearings into the budgets for the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor.
The center of attention, as always during session, will be the biennial state budget. Nevada is one of only a half dozen states that still meets just once every two years, making the process of budgeting a bit more difficult since lawmakers are trying to predict what the state of the economy will be 18-24 months out.
The General Fund revenues have been projected at $8.84 billion by the Economic Forum and those projections must be used by lawmakers as well as the governor. If they want to spend more than that, they have to create or raise the taxes to get the necessary funds.