Legislature to start with $15 million for session | NevadaAppeal.com

Legislature to start with $15 million for session

The 2009 Legislature will open with Senate Bill 1, appropriating $15 million to fund the operation of the 120-day session.

But because of the budget crisis, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Lorne Malkiewich said they will take the money from the state treasury only as they actually need it.

“Fifteen million will get us mostly there,” Malkiewich said.

He estimated the total cost of the session will be in the $20 million range. He said some of the costs can be taken out of the Legislative Fund, which is separate from the General Fund.

The committee also voted to cut the legislative branch budget by reducing the number of out-of-state trips each lawmaker can take in the interim from three to one and suspending dues paid the organizations, such as the National Council of State Legislatures.

They also voted to cut back statutory committee budgets, reducing the number of meetings they can hold, eliminating out-of-state travel and reducing in-state travel. They also supported reductions and elimination of many consulting and support contracts for those committees.

Altogether, Malkiewich said, those changes will save about $1 million. He warned that the Legislature will still have to make more cuts to meet the governor’s mandated budget reductions. Those issues, he said, will be taken up later.

Malkiewich said the Legislative Council Bureau will begin pre-filing bills by the end of this week. He said that includes about 160 proposed pieces of legislation from state agencies and local governments. Because of tighter controls on who can ask for how many pieces of legislation, he said, requests are running about 100 behind last year. That fact combined with pre-filing of many more bill drafts, he said, should make the session go smoother.

Pre-filing, he said, will also enable all legislative committees to get busy on day one where in the past, it has taken at least a week before most committees had enough bills referred to them to hold hearings.

“This should really help with the work flow in February,” he said.

The session opens on the first Monday in February ” this year Feb. 2 ” and runs for 120 calendar days. The final day of the regular session will be June 1.

Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, chairman of the committee to consult, asked Malkiewich to make available to committee chairmen ” especially the new chairmen in the Senate ” lists of the legislation that will be coming to their committees before session.

Malkiewich made one final change to the calendar, moving the deadline for resolving budget differences between the Assembly and Senate to May 4. Lawmakers agreed with him that deadline has to be after the May 1 meeting of the Economic Forum at which they will set the revenue projections that must be used in building the budget.

Townsend said lawmakers have to know what the revenue projections are before they can balance the budget.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.