Nevada panel votes to erase Washington, D.C., lobby office |

Nevada panel votes to erase Washington, D.C., lobby office

BRENDAN RILEY, Associated Press

An Assembly budget panel voted Monday to get rid of Nevada’s Washington, D.C., lobbying office — which has survived despite repeated attempts by some state lawmakers to shut it down.

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted to cut the office’s $260,000-a-year budget, at the request of Assemblyman David Goldwater, who has led the fight to scrap the lobbying office since 1995, his first term.

“Maybe the state needs to be the leader on being a little more prudent with our advocacy dollars,” said Goldwater, D-Las Vegas, adding, “I don’t know if we’re just being a little bit gullible.”

“Somewhere along the line we’re really overdoing our lobbying effort,” Goldwater said, noting that several state and local government agencies have lobbyists in the nation’s capital.

Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, said her impression of the state’s Washington lobbying office was that it’s more of a “eat, meet and greet” operation.

Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, said it would be difficult for him to support the lobbying office unless there’s “some sort of indicator that we’re getting something for our investment.”

Assemblyman Josh Griffin, R-Henderson, said he’d like some analysis to see whether the office duplicates other lobbying efforts on behalf of the state.

But Giunchigliani said she doubted the data would be provided.

“That’s been our frustration for 12 years,” she said. “We’ve never got the data. I doubt we’re going to get it this year.”

Griffin was joined by fellow Republicans Lynn Hettrick of Gardnerville and John Marvel of Battle Mountain in opposing Goldwater’s motion to cut off the lobbying office’s funding. All other Ways and Means members voted for the motion.

The office is headed by Michael Pieper. He was hired in 1999 by Gov. Kenny Guinn to replace Leo Penne, who had run the office since it opened in 1986.

The office’s budget, while not a big piece of a two-year Nevada budget that could run $4.8 billion, has caused a lot of debate in past sessions. At the close of the 1999 Legislature, an impasse over its budget was one of the last to be resolved before lawmakers wrapped up work on a $3.2 billion biennial budget.