Lawmakers begin sorting out 2001 session rules |

Lawmakers begin sorting out 2001 session rules

Staff Reports

Rumors at least some officials are considering a special legislative session to handle reapportionment next year surfaced publicly as lawmakers discussed plans for the 2001 Legislature.

Members of the Committee to Consult with the Director were told their first constitutionally mandated 120-day session in 1999 worked pretty well and will get better with a few refinements in the rules and deadlines.

But they agreed the biggest question they have to resolve is how to handle reapportionment.

“It’s the 900-pound gorilla next session,” Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Lorne Malkiewich told the committee on Monday.

Under mandates from the voters, lawmakers chopped the length of sessions from 169 days in 1995 and 1997 to just 120 days in 1999.

While it worked better than most thought it would, legislators didn’t have the specter of reapportionment hanging over their heads. It falls to the Legislature to redraw all Senate and Assembly districts, State Board of Regents and Board of Education districts and those for Nevada’s members in the House of Representatives on top of their regular business.

Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, raised the issue saying she has heard some, including Gov. Kenny Guinn, want to “do the state’s business first and then come back and do reapportionment in special session.”

“I really hope we don’t do that,” she said. “I really oppose that.”

But Assembly Speaker Joe Dini, D-Yerington, quickly pointed out that, while he too would rather avoid a special session, “we don’t know if we’re going to have enough time.”

“We could get in a lot of trouble, especially if we got into a budget battle or something like that,” he said. “We have to leave all avenues open.”

Malkiewich said that is probably the biggest issue before lawmakers planning the 2001 session. He said the other alternatives are to plan the session without reapportionment, letting it work itself out politically with the understanding that some redistricting plan must be passed by the end of the session, or to set a series of deadlines as they have for other legislation and the budget process. That means deciding whether reapportionment bills should be exempted from deadlines and other rules imposed on all other legislation or just subject to different rules.

Malkiewich said staff will provide data on that as well as other proposed changes in the rules for the committee’s next meeting.