Being Lorne Malkiewich: Fast-paced life | NevadaAppeal.com

Being Lorne Malkiewich: Fast-paced life

by Christy Chalmers

GARDNERVILLE – Back in 1981, a window of opportunity opened for Lorne Malkiewich.

Over the years, more windows have opened, each a little higher than the last. Now, he’s running a show that rarely gets less than busy and, for a few months every two years is downright frenetic.

He is the director of the state’s Legislative Counsel Bureau.

“We joke that you have six months of work, then 18 months off, but we’re still waiting for the 18 months off,” he says.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau includes the Legislative Commission, a 12-member panel that in turn oversees the bureau; the Interim Finance Committee, which handles financial issues between legislative sessions; and audit, fiscal analysis, legal, research and administrative divisions.

Legislative business takes most of the division’s attention during the state’s biennial legislative sessions, but it also handles everything from building and ground maintenance to audits and legal advice.

Malkiewich began working for the legal division in 1981 as a bill drafter. His first exposure to Nevada law came while he was attending the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. He was researching legislation from the 1979 session and made some contacts in Nevada.

He grew up the youngest of three boys in Upstate New York and suburban New Jersey, then attended Notre Dame before moving to Sacramento for law school.

“It wasn’t long before I loved this place and the job,” said Malkiewich. “Within a couple of years, I realized that if things worked out, I might want to make it into a career. The opportunities kept coming up.”

He met his wife Mary Jo at a softball game in 1984 (“She hates sports,” he says), and they married in 1985.

Their eldest child Ryan was born in 1987 and daughter Jill followed in 1989. The family lives in Carson City.

Ryan’s birth year coincided with Malkiewich’s promotion to head of the legal division, a title he held until becoming director of the bureau in 1994.

He doesn’t miss the endless hours that come with being in the legal division during the legislative session but didn’t mind them, either.

“It can be difficult. It can be frustrating. It can be exhausting for sure, but exciting as well,” he said, reflecting on those years. “If you don’t enjoy being part of the process of creating legislation, you will find something else.”

He’s now got a more stable schedule, even during the session, though he did jump in to help draft bills and amendments near a couple of grueling deadlines in 1999.

“You can’t say, ‘Sorry, your bill missed the deadline because we couldn’t draft it,'” he observed. “But for the most part if the building is standing and the computers are running, I can go home.”

Malkiewich said he misses the legal work. Though he helped answer a lot of questions when he first became bureau director – his 12 previous years had given him a lot of institutional background – his responsibilities broadened to include management of five divisions, plus a lot of day-to-day matters like the logistics of running the legislative building.

He praises the legislative staff and division heads, noting he has the least experience of any administrator. Brenda Erdoes, his successor in the legal division, started a year before he did.

“The staff here is very experienced so they can handle extremely heavy workloads,” he said. “Usually I can say, ‘Will you take care of this?’ and they will. They’re doing tremendous work, which makes it a good place to work.”

Off the job, Malkiewich spends time with his family and volunteers on a Boy Scout committee. His parents still live in New Jersey and his brothers are back East. Malkiewich plans to stay where he is.

“I love being five minutes from home,” he said. “I’ve seen the big city, and I’m not missing a thing.”