Nevada Assembly meets in old chamber |

Nevada Assembly meets in old chamber

BEN KIECKHEFER, Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The Nevada Assembly on Monday met in its old chamber at the Nevada Capitol — and the missing comforts of the members’ new home were readily apparent.

Absent were the members’ plush, reclining chairs, TV monitors, wireless Internet access and an automatic vote-tallying board.

The session began with a humorous presentation by state Archivist Guy Rocha, who told of a two-session debate that focused on the most lucrative business in the old building — a tavern.

Rocha drew applause when he talked about the Assembly’s rejection in 1893 of a Senate-approved bill to bar the sale of liquor in the Nevada Capitol.

In 1895, an Assembly member sponsored a similar measure, which won approval only after it was amended to take affect after the 1895 session ended.

The Nevada Capitol housed the Legislature for nearly a century, from 1871 to 1969.

Those in attendance at Monday’s session included three former Assembly speakers who served in both the old and new Assembly chambers — Democrats Joe Dini of Yerington and Bill Swackhamer of Battle Mountain, and Republican Lawrence Jacobsen of Minden.

Swackhamer, who served in the Legislature from 1947 to 1972 before becoming secretary of state, said he preferred the old chambers.

“The chamber was not nearly as nice as it is now, but to me it was really good,” Swackhamer said. “The only problem we had was that we didn’t have any committee rooms.”

Dini, who served from 1967 to 2002, said it was easier to work in the new building, but remembered good times in the old one.

“We had some wonderful times here. The warmth of this building is not exceeded by any other building in the state,” Dini said.

The Assembly conducted actual business during the session — which readily showed how technology has changed the pace of lawmaking. To vote for each bill, legislators had to yell out “yes” or “no.” The process took more than a minute — a process now done electronically in a few seconds.

Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, scheduled the event.

“It is an honor and a privilege to hold an Assembly floor session in the building where so many of our most admired predecessors created the policies that made our great State of Nevada the way it is,” Perkins said.