Legislature in Las Vegas? Lawmaker wants roaming sessions
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Floor votes from Fallon? Politicking around Pahrump? Or the Legislature in Las Vegas?
Nevada lawmakers are set to consider whether allow themselves to break from the confines of Carson City and roam the state — crafting legislation from Lake Tahoe to Ely.
Sen. Bob Coffin says his proposal allowing the Legislature to meet and vote away from the state’s capital city is “good common sense” in light of terrorism fears.
“Especially now, we need the flexibility to move in case something happens here,” the Las Vegas Democrat said.
Over two-thirds of Nevadans live in the Las Vegas area, and with recent redistricting, a record number of lawmakers represent southern Nevada. Interim committee meetings are often held in the nation’s booming casino capital.
But the Nevada Constitution mandates that legislative sessions be held “at the seat of government of the state.”
Coffin says his two past efforts to allow for a roaming Legislature were blocked by northern Nevada lawmakers.
“They thought it was a blatant attempt by Las Vegas to steal the capital away from Carson City,” Coffin said.
Sen. Mike McGinness doesn’t like the idea.
“The infrastructure’s all here,” said the Fallon Republican. “What’re you going to do, build a sub-capital?”
Coffin notes that last summer’s special session on medical malpractice lawsuit reform was mostly specific to southern Nevada.
“We don’t always need all the bells and whistles,” he said. “We could’ve had a special session in Las Vegas and saved a lot of money” on teleconferencing and legislative staff.
SJR9, not yet set for a hearing, would amend the state constitution to let a majority of lawmakers in each house vote finish their business away from Carson City. It would also let legislators circulate petitions in between the 120-day sessions designating alternate sites.
And Coffin notes that in Nevada, there’s always plenty of room to roam.
“You could move to the Reno Convention Center, you could move to Tonopah, you could move to Las Vegas,” he said. “It doesn’t matter.”