Disclosures slow session to a crawl
The 25th special session of the Nevada Legislature slowed to a crawl Monday as legal counsel representing Assembly and Senate members imposed new disclosure requirements on any potential conflict of interest.
More than an hour was devoted to disclosures in the morning as members met in the form of a Committee of the Whole to review legislation designed to implement the $340 million in budget reductions needed to balance the budget.
The reason for the extensive disclosures is an ethics commission complaint filed against Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, for his actions on the floor of the Senate. A district court ruled lawmakers are exempt from ethics complaints for their floor votes and other legislative actions. But the issue has not yet been finally resolved until that order is signed and the Ethics Commission decides whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Out of what Legislative Council Bureau Director Lorne Malkiewich termed “an abundance of caution,” staff prepared extensive disclosure statements for more than 20 Assembly members to read into the record. The Senate went through the same laborious process as its members publicly declared anything in their lives that could be considered a potential conflict.
Then, as the Assembly rose from the Committee of the Whole and reconvened as the Assembly to actually vote on the two pieces of legislation, Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, announced that legal had advised him to repeat the disclosures again even though they were doing it to the same audience which heard them in committee.
One by one, the members all repeated their disclosure statements, further delaying any vote on the legislation.
“Will somebody right now commit to tweaking this section of the law?” asked Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas. “Sheesh.”
A dozen hands went up among the members of the Assembly.
A few minutes later, Buckley announced that legal counsel had decided to give them a break, allowing them to simply say they were making the same disclosure they made in the committee.