Q&A Tuesday: Have your say while lawmakers are in town
The 74th session of the Nevada Legislature began Monday. Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, has some advice for folks who want to participate in the process. The Legislature will meet through June 4.
Is the Legislature open to regular people and do they have to do anything special to attend?
The Legislature is open to the public. There are no requirements for access. Anyone can come during its working hours. The Constitution requires both the chambers and the committee meetings to be open to the public. The building typically opens at 7 a.m. and stays open to the public as long as there are committee hearings in progress. Late in session that means the building will be open most of the night.
Can residents participate if they have concerns or an issue important to them and how?
Yes. Legislators hear from lobbyists and state employees every day. They appreciate hearing from people who are not associated with a particular special interest. They very much want to hear form the general public.
The first thing a person should do is become familiar with the issues by reviewing the information on our Web site – http://www.leg.state.nv.us/ – including when and where the hearing is. Once they know the bill number for the issue they are interested in, it’s a simple matter of showing up for the hearing and testifying. Most of the Legislature’s work is done in committee, so you’ll want to know when the hearing is and attend.
If the meeting has already been held, the results of any committee action are available on the Internet and are usually posted by the end of the day.
Are there any special rules to remember if they want to testify on an issue?
If you come to a committee meeting to testify, make sure to sign in and indicate on the sign-in sheet that you would like to testify in favor of or against a particular bill. When you are in the committee room, you should be respectful of the committee and other people who are testifying. Make sure you turn off or mute your cell phone or pager. When it is your turn to testify, first identify yourself for the record and address your remarks to the chairman or chairwoman. Get to the point. Try not to be repetitive. If your testimony is substantially the same as the person before you, say so and let the next person testify.
What are some of the don’ts for people new to the legislative process?
Don’t be disrespectful of the committee or the people on the other side of the issue. Don’t be loud or rude. Keep to the issues, and keep personalities out of it. Anyone who is rude or disruptive will be removed from the room.
If you must have a private conversation during a meeting, leave the room to do so.
As far as dress, you don’t need to be dressed formally, but be dressed neatly.
How can individuals find out more about an issue in the Legislature such as when there will be a hearing and where?
The best way to learn about the Legislature is through the legislative Web site. If you can’t find everything you need on the Web site, you can call the research library and ask for assistance. Our staff uses the Web site for virtually all their legislative research.
How does some one get to their meeting?
If you need to find the room where your meeting is being held, there are electronic reader screens near the front and rear entrances. If you don’t know where that room is, a legislative police officer will give you directions.
If you can’t make it to the legislative building, all of the hearings and floor sessions are broadcast over the Internet.
On the Net
Nevada Legislature 2007
Legislative Hotline numbers:
Statewide: 1-800-995-9080 (in-state only; ask for the Legislative Hotline)
Las Vegas – (702) 486-2626 (ask for the Legislative Hotline)
Carson City – 684-3300
Fax – 684-3330