Attorney general keys focus on federal overreach
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt gave an overview of his office’s mission and watchdog responsibilities toward the federal government’s overreach at Wednesday’s Churchill Economic Development Authority Business Council Breakfast.
The state’s 33rd attorney general, who won election in 2014 against Ross Miller, is the nation’s youngest. During his campaign, 15 of 17 Nevada sheriffs endorsed Laxalt. Churchill County District Attorney Art Mallory, who introduced the attorney general, said Laxalt has been a man who “does what he says” and is following through on his campaign pledges.
“He stands up for rural Nevada, he cut the deadwood in his office and trimmed the budget,” Mallory said of the state’s top law enforcement officer.
Once he was elected, Laxalt said he began assembling a team of attorneys and support staff to make the attorney general’s section the top legal office in the state. By taking an active role in the office shortly after the election, Laxalt said he revised the AG office’s budget, thus allowing him to hire a solicitor general from Montana.
“The solicitor general needs to be able to wake up every morning on guard and (thinking) what to do with the federal government,” Laxalt said.
Furthermore, Laxalt said the attorney general is the only state constitutional office holder who focuses on the constitutional system and Federalism, the relationship between the states and United States government.
“Churchill County (and other rural counties) are affected by the government’s overreach,” Laxalt said, adding he will use the state’s power to protect its citizens.
Laxalt cited the recent ruling earlier this month from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that opposed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Rule that broadened the federal government’s reach over millions of acres of private land that are regulated by the states. Laxalt said Nevada joined 12 other states to oppose the new rule that would allow the EPA to manage any body of water to include creeks, ponds and lakes as navigable waterways.
“The federal government did not have authority to make a new definition,” Laxalt said of the EPA’s rewriting of the Clean Water Rule.
While the states won a decision at the first level, Laxalt said the EPA’s overreach could advance to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Laxalt, who has come under fire from various groups over his stand on immigration, joined other states challenging President Barack Obama’s executive order dealing with immigrants who illegally come into the country. Laxalt said the president is not going through Congress.
Laxalt also touched on the Second Amendment and the number of briefs filed. He is particularly concerned about new laws being made in California, for example, that could have an effect on Nevada. Both states are in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
He said California is “looking at a silly law” that would dictate concealed weapons must stay in the home.
Another overreach Laxalt and his fellow attorneys general from the western states are pursuing is the federal government’s stand on possibly designating more protected habitat for sage grouse.
“We gave the federal government an alternative … and the federal government is not interested,” Laxalt said.
Depending on the outcome, he said any decision would affect Northern Nevada and portions of Churchill County.
“If the federal government goes too far,” Laxalt said, “the AG can sue on behalf of its citizens to protect our state and them.”