Millennium Countdown: 1987 |

Millennium Countdown: 1987

by staff

12 days to the millennium

Jan. 19, 1987

Paper: Nevada Appeal

President: Donald W. Reynolds

General Manager: Dale C. Wetenkamp

Editor: Don Ham

Advertising Director: Frank Sharp

Circulation Manager: Jean Steffen

Composing Supervisor: Sherri Sharp

Published each evening Sunday through Friday at 200 Bath St.

A Nevada owned member Donrey Media Group

Veteran lawmakers see many changes

By Kelli Du Fresne

A veteran Nevada reporter once said, “Some things never change. Two of them are Jake and Dini.”

Both are Nevada lawmakers who have served the state for more than 30 years as legislators.

For a decade beginning in 1967, Republican Lawrence “Jake” Jacobsen, of Minden, and Democrat Joseph E. Dini Jr., of Yerington, served in the Nevada Assembly together, but mostly as opponents.

Jacobsen, 78, left the Assembly in 1978 in favor of a Senate seat, which he retains today. Nevada’s most senior lawmaker, he was first elected to the Assembly in 1962.

Dini, 70, was elected in 1966 to the Assembly and has served as its speaker since 1987. He also was speaker for a year in 1977 and speaker pro tempore in 1973.

“It was a simple process 30 years ago when I first started,” Dini said. “And the public seemed to have a better grasp of it.”

When Dini first took office, the 1967 Legislature introduced and enacted more bills than in 1999. The 1967 session ended after 90 days, with 1,269 bills introduced and 689 enacted.

Sessions were limited to 60 days until 1958 when the limit was removed. Until 1995, sessions managed to wrap up by the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

After the longest session ever in 1997, voters limited the legislative session to 120 calendar days. In addition they placed restrictions on the number of bills that could be introduced by committees and legislators.

In 1999, the Legislature worked weekends to beat the deadline and introduced 1,063 bills and enacted 646 laws.

Both Jacobsen and Dini have survived the move of the Legislature from the Capitol in 1969, four reapportionment battles – 1971, 1973, 1981 and 1991 – and the elections following the realignment of their districts, the remodel of the Legislature, the ’60s, disco, Bullfrog County, the ’80s, 99.9 percent of the ’90s and the return of disco.

Since their respective freshman years, the lawmakers’ watering hole Melody Lane has closed and been replaced by the legislative building, the Chinese restaurant is gone as are the former Nevada Appeal offices on Second Street just south of the Capitol.

Back are the wrought iron fence at the Nevada State Museum, the former federal building now the Paul Laxalt State Building, and downtown.

In 1987, Ed Vogel was working as the Nevada Appeal’s capital bureau reporter. He wrote:

The hoopla leading up to the opening of the 1987 Legislature ended at noon today when lawmakers finally sat down for business.

Before the 64th version of this biennial madness ends late in May or early in June, legislators will have introduced about 2,000 bills and resolutions, approved more than 700 law changes and spent $1.1 billion of the taxpayers’ money.

Legislators were to attend a special 90-minute ceremony this afternoon on the life of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Black leaders want the Legislature to designate a special holiday each Jan. 19 for King. Under the present format, Gov. Richard Bryan has designated the day as one of the two optional state holidays Nevada governors may declare.

Legislative leaders predict they can wrap up business in 120 days – 15 days shorter than the 1985 session.

If the legislative session runs that long, then the session will have cost $3,333 a day, about three times the cost of the 1977 Legislature.

Before adjournment legislators hopefully will find a solution to the state’s health cost problems, approve a thread-bare 1987-89 state budget and probably increase gasoline taxes by 5 cents a gallon.

What they will probably not approve once again is a state income tax or an increase in property taxes.

Despite a recent University of Nevada poll that showed voters might support tax increases for education or vital services, finding a legislator who would endorse such taxes is as rare as expecting a Las Vegas hospital to contribute to the campaign of Gov. Richard Bryan.

Nonetheless, since the 1985 Legislature ended, more and more observers have said that without tax increases, Nevadans cannot expect proper services.

Legislators arrived in Nevada’s small-town capital city in the dead of winter.

While only a couple of inches of snow have fallen on Carson City this winter, temperatures have dropped to near zero on many mornings.

The article continued about two other longtime senators.

With the opening of the session, Sen. Jim Gibson, D-Henderson, will break all records for length of legislative service.

Elected in November to another four-year term, Gibson begins his 28th year in the Legislature. He first was elected as an assemblyman in 1959.

By starting his new term, Gibson passes the late Sen. William Dressler of Douglas County, who served in the Senate between 1919 and 1946.

Gibson died Aug. 13, 1988, nearly two years into his last term.

The 1999 session of the Legislature was said to cost about $13 million, a savings of about $2.5 million from the 1997 session.

Jacobsen and Dini were both re-elected in 1998. Their terms will expire in 2000 and 2002 respectively.

Today, lawmakers, at the insistence of voters, are limited to serving no more than 12 years – the equivalent of six Assembly terms or three terms in the Senate.

“One of the best things about this is the people you meet,” Jacobsen said. “It’s pretty neat to be able to get on the phone and call somebody back East and greet them by their first name, and have them do the same.”