2009 Legislature ends
Associated Press Writer
Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons can claim few victories from the 2009 Legislature but that’s mainly because the process was “poisoned” by the lawmakers’ Democratic leaders, a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.
Dan Burns added that Gibbons was disappointed by the $781 million tax increase plan and $6.8 billion two-year budget approved by lawmakers over his vetoes, but added the tax increase “would have been even larger had he not been very vocal and adamant” in opposing it.
Many GOP lawmakers signed onto some of the record 25 veto overrides of the record 41 vetoes by Gibbons, but Burns said that doesn’t show there was a disconnect between the governor and those lawmakers or that he was disengaged from the Legislature.
“If we didn’t have so many bad bills sent over, we wouldn’t have had so many vetoes,” Burns said, adding that Gibbons wasn’t rejecting measures out of spite and “stood up for what he believed in.”
Burns also said Gibbons tried to work with legislative leaders early on but the process was “poisoned from the beginning by (Assembly Speaker) Barbara Buckley and (Senate Majority Leader) Steven Horsford.”
GREEN ENERGY: The lawmakers’ final action on bills was the Senate’s approval of SB395, part of a high-profile package of renewable energy bills supported by Gov. Gibbons. SB395 encourages “green” development and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
FORECLOSURE HELP: Other bills approved on the 2009 session’s last day was AB140, part of an effort to help ease Nevada’s highest-in-the-nation foreclosure rate. AB140 requires notice to renters that a property is in foreclosure, and requires notice to the state if a licensed health facility faces foreclosure.
MEDICAL OVERSIGHT: Lawmakers took final votes on SB269, which provides, among other things, for immediate license suspensions of medical professionals convicted of felonies. The measure is a response to a hepatitis C outbreak in Las Vegas caused by shoddy injection practices.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Lawmakers approved a bill granting state workers some collective bargaining rights ” excluding talks on wages or other economic matters. Critics said AB395 ran counter to Nevada’s status as a right-to-work state, while unions viewed it as a major step toward eventually getting broader negotiating rights for the employees.
SMOKING BAN: Lawmakers revived and approved part of a once-rejected proposal to roll back a voter-approved smoking ban in public places. An amendment tacked onto AB309, which deals with stalking, allows smoking at tobacco trade conventions.
REAL ID: Among the measures not approved in the final hours of the session was SB52, a bill to bring the state into line with terms of the federal Real ID Act. Critics said there was potential for “Orwellian” intrusions into Nevadans’ privacy.
TEXTING: Also lost in the last-minute shuffle was a plan to prohibit Nevada motorists, including police and emergency personnel, from text-messaging on cell phones while driving. The proposal was amended into SB309, which dealt with motorcycles and mopeds, but advanced no farther.
The legislators’ total of successful veto overrides rose to a record 25. The first-term Republican governor vetoed a record 41 bills, out of nearly 1,000 sent to him by legislators.
The completed override votes included one enacting SB283, providing various legal rights for domestic partners, and another enacting AB562, the $6.8 billion appropriations act which funds state government operations for the next two fiscal years.
Also rejected was Gibbons’ veto of AB463, aimed at blocking unwarranted use of high-priced consultants by state agencies; and his rejection of AB121, calling for hospital staffing plans to ensure adequate nurse-to-patient ratios and safety of patients.
Legislators also overrode Gibbons’ veto of AB493, a plan to track investments by the state Public Employees’ Retirement System into Iran’s oil-energy industry; and his veto of AB304, which requires spending of millions of dollars in redevelopment funds to reopen F Street in Las Vegas.
Several of Gibbons’ vetoes were upheld, among them his rejection of AB458, which sets up a rainy-day fund for public education, hard hit by the economic downturn.
The old mark of 33 vetoes had been set by Gov. H.G. Blasdel shortly after Nevada became a state in 1864. Blasdel also had held the record for overrides in one session, with 10.
Besides the legislative work, there were many speeches honoring the seven senators and 10 Assembly members in their final sessions because of term-limits.
The outgoing legislators include Sens. Maurice Washington, Terry Care, Maggie Carlton, Bob Coffin, Mark Amodei, Bernice Mathews and Randolph Townsend; and Assembly members Buckley, Bernie Anderson, Morse Arberry, Jerry Claborn, Ellen Koivisto, Mark Manendo, Kathy McClain, Harry Mortensen, John Carpenter and Sheila Leslie.