Name tags necessary in this session
Days after what many have called the most aggressive State of the State speech in decades, Gov. Brian Sandoval now waits to see what the Nevada Legislature will do with his proposals.
However, he also turned over many proposals to an inexperienced Assembly.
After winning control in the November election, the Republicans feature a caucus in the Nevada Assembly with more than half of its members having no prior experience in the Legislature.
Of the 25 Republicans in the lower house, 13 are newbies and five more are sophomores with just one session under their belts. That’s 18 of 25.
“This is one of the reasons term limits is a stupid idea,” said Fred Lokken, professor at Truckee Meadows Community College.
He said Nevada has term limits because, “People never think things through.”
Potentially more important to the process, Lokken and other observers have lamented a good share of those freshmen are anti-government in their beliefs with disdain for the practices and conventions that make the Legislature work.
“Government works best when those practices are adhered to,” Lokken said.
Instead, he said some tea party members see it as in their interest to be disruptive.
Lokken said that attitude is at the core of the problem in Congress.
“That mentality is now residing in the Nevada Legislature for the first time,” Lokken said. “We have to pray Sandoval keeps the ship together because the alternative will be a record breaking number of special sessions.”
Lokken wasn’t the only one to raise those concerns but executive branch officials, lobbyists and others declined to go on record.
Although they’re in the minority, Democrats are in better shape as far as experience goes. On average, the Ds have a bit more than two sessions experience behind them so they probably at least know where the restrooms are.
Ex-Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Harvey Munford each have 10 years experience and, while this is just Maggie Carlton’s third Assembly term, she has 12 years history in the Senate.
Among the Democrats, 13 of the 17 are returning members.
The deepest reservoir of legislative experience is in the Senate where members average about four sessions of history. That includes a total of 51 sessions of Assembly experience in addition to whatever time they’ve spent in the upper house.
Altogether, there are 17 new faces in the Assembly in the 2015 Legislature. That, however, isn’t the biggest turnover in the legislature as a whole. There were 22 new members in the Senate and Assembly in 1995 and 21 in 2011.
Overall legislative experience is a far cry from just a few sessions ago before term limits kicked in.
In the 2001 session, fully 10 members of the Senate had at least 20 years in that body. When Bill Raggio, R-Reno, retired in 2011, he had served 39 years in the Senate.
That same year, six Assembly members had at least 20 years experience in that body, topped by Joe Dini who retired after a record 36 years in the lower house.
Finally, although there are a number of new women lawmakers this time, neither house set a record for female members. For 2015, there are five women in the Senate and 15 in the Assembly. There were seven in the Senate in both 2003 and 2009. There were more women in the Assembly in 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001, peaking at 18 women in 1999.
The 120-day Legislature convenes Feb. 2.