Nevada lawmakers to consider stronger open-meeting laws
December 15, 2004
Nevada’s public workers who are the subject of closed meetings would get more rights under proposed legislation presented to the Legislative Commission on Wednesday – including the right to demand that the meeting be open to the public.
The recommendations were developed by a special committee headed by Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, to try resolve disputes over the closed-door sessions held by the Board of Regents in 2003. Those meetings resulted in the demotion of Community College of Southern Nevada President Ron Remington and his chief lobbyist John Cummings and a storm of controversy over how the sessions were conducted. The Attorney General’s Office charged the regents violated the open meeting law. Regents counsel Tom Ray said the meetings were held within the law.
Hardy told the Legislative Commission the idea was not to “pass judgment or criticize legal opinions that had been rendered by any entity.”
He said the idea was instead to clarify the law for all who have to apply it.
In addition to hardy, the committee included Sens. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, and Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, along with assembly members Marcus Conklin and John Oceguera, both Democrats, and John Marvel, R-Battle Mountain.
The members recommended legislation to guarantee everyone who will be discussed in a closed session can attend. It is not required now. And that the subject of the discussion can require the meeting be opened to the public. Current law gives the board the decision to open the meeting to the public or not.
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Public bodies would have to spell out the business to be considered behind closed doors and how it fits in the law allowing closed meetings before kicking the public out. And the agenda would have to identify the subject of the closed meeting.
And they recommended legislation spelling out that supporting materials on agenda items, which are provided to members of a public body, also be provided to the public at the same time. And not when the board gets to it.
Those proposals will be put in bill draft form and considered by the 2005 Legislature.
Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.