Area lawmakers hopeful for cooperation rather than fights | NevadaAppeal.com

Area lawmakers hopeful for cooperation rather than fights

Geoff Dornan/Nevada Appeal
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More than 20 legislative freshmen showed up Wednesday for their first lessons in how the Legislature works.

And despite claims by many that 2011 will be a contentious session, new members from western Nevada expressed confidence they and others will find ways to work together for the benefit of the state.

“I’m excited,” said Republican Kelly Kite of Douglas County. “Of all the times to be an assemblyman, this is probably the best time to make a difference. With all the new people here, it’s time to accomplish something.”

Ben Kieckhefer, a Republican whose Washoe Senate district includes part of northern Carson City, said he believes lawmakers can avoid a nasty session and that new faces in both houses will come with open minds to meet the state’s needs.

“There are no sacred cows in 2011,” Kieckhefer said. “The people who ran for the Legislature this year recognize the situation we’re in.”

Pete Livermore, the Republican representing Assembly District 40, which includes most of Carson City, said he sees a good freshman class whose members will be key to the process.

“I think this is going to be the year of the freshman,” he said.

Livermore said he hopes the tone won’t become negative.

“That’s not what the voters told us to do,” he said.

He said he intends to “go in very open minded.”

Livermore said he has already requested his first bill draft – a change designed to give local governments more say in where renewable energy projects are constructed. Under present law, local officials and planners have no real say in where solar panels or wind turbines are put up in communities. He pointed to Carson School District’s plans to put up solar panels, which he said local officials and neighbors have currently no say in.

The freshmen were told by incoming Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, the Legislature must operate in an atmosphere of “respect and honesty and civility” to get the state’s business done. He said members will probably agree on all but a very few issues.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said because so many veterans were termed out this election cycle, orientation has been expanded. Of the 63 seats in the Assembly and Senate, 29 changed hands this cycle. Normally, turnover has been about eight in the Assembly and four or five in the Senate.

After the three days this week, Malkiewich said there will be more detailed orientation for members in the first week of December, including briefings on major issues including the budget and reapportionment.