Senate panel tones down Tahoe withdrawal bill |

Senate panel tones down Tahoe withdrawal bill

Associated Press
Nevada Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, works on the Senate floor Monday, May 23, 2011, at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev. Earlier Monday, Lee's bill to seek changes to the rules governing Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was amended and passed out of committee. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
AP | FR70203 AP

(AP) – A Nevada Senate committee tempered anger toward California and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Monday, seeking changes to a two-state compact instead of immediate withdrawal from the agency that oversees development and environmental protections in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The Senate Government Affairs Committee amended and approved SB271. Among other things, the bill calls for an end to a supermajority of the voting, 14-member TRPA governing board needed to approve projects and regional plans. Any projects currently permitted would be grandfathered.

Nevada and California each have seven members on the board. There is also one non-voting member appointed by the president.

Other provisions require that any regional plan, which hasn’t been updated since the mid-1980s, consider the Lake Tahoe Basin’s changing economic conditions, and that anyone challenging a plan has the burden to show how it violates the compact.

During an earlier committee hearing, critics of the TRPA called the agency a “bloated bureaucracy” and an “obstructionist organization” that takes years to decide if a homeowner can cut up a dead tree or pave a driveway.

Nevada lawmakers lobbed anger at environmentalists and California, saying the liberal leanings of Nevada’s western neighbor infringe on the property rights of residents on the eastern shore of the Sierra jewel.

Changes proposed by the Nevada bill would need approval by California and Congress, which created the agency in 1969. The bill sets a 2013 deadline for that to happen, with a possible two-year extension if progress is being achieved before Nevada pursues withdrawal.

“If they haven’t done anything on the stuff we’ve asked, then we can proceed,” said Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who sponsored the bill that was also backed by several Republicans.

The bill also requires a legislative committee to review the financial and other ramifications Nevada would face if it withdrew from the agency and regulated its side of the land on its own.

The bill now moves to the Senate floor.