Posts Tagged ‘Malkiewich’

First Bills Of 2011 Legislative Session Now Available For Review

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:22 am December 14th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Lobbyists and policy-makers who can’t wait to get a jump on the 2011 legislative session can start their reading assignments now.

Forty-four bills have already been drafted and pre-filed on the Legislature’s website in advance of the session that will begin Feb. 7.

Included in the 17 Assembly bills are three from John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, aimed at further combating child prostitution in Nevada. Hambrick won unanimous support for a bill in 2009 providing for civil penalties of up to $500,000 against those convicted of human trafficking of minor children.

Hambrick now wants to extend that effort next session by increasing sentences for those involved in such crimes, including those who purchase the sexual services of an underage child, and allowing victims to clear their criminal records under certain conditions so they can go on to productive lives.

There is also Senate Bill 1, which appropriates $15 million for the cost of the 2011 session. The bill is the first passed when the Legislature convenes.

Among the other 26 Senate bills drafted and on file is Senate Bill 2, the biennial effort by Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, to appropriate enough money to public education to meet or exceed the national average. Schneider has introduced the bill in previous sessions without success.

Senate Bill 16, requested by the Senate Government Affairs Committee, would make changes to Nevada’s prevailing wage law.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the number of bills will grow significantly by Wednesday, when the approximately 155 measures sought by government entities must be pre-filed or they are deemed withdrawn. This list includes 91 measures from the executive branch, along with requests from the attorney general, Supreme Court, Clark County and others.

A total of 241 bills were pre-filed ahead of the 2009 session, he said. The pre-filing of bills helps legislative committees get to work right away when the session begins, Malkiewich said.

The Legislature has only 120 days to complete its work unless the governor calls a special session.

Nevada Legislature Strikes Deal With Firm To Complete Portion Of Study

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 6:54 pm July 29th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Legislature has reached agreement with a firm hired to help analyze the state’s revenue structure to complete a portion of the project.

The agreement reached with Moody’s Analytics requires the firm to finish the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group portion of the contract by Sept. 15. It will require more work by the firm and two more meetings of the Vision Stakeholder Group, but the payment will remain at the initial bid of just under $100,000.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the other piece of the contract, a tax study, was cancelled.

“We cancelled the tax study portion, as it was too far behind schedule to allow completion in a timely manner,” he said. “We will pay nothing for any work they’ve already done on that portion.”

The company had been sent a notice of default for failing to complete the contracted work for a total cost of $253,000. A report was due July 1.

The firm produced a draft report that was rejected in May by the Vision Stakeholder Group, a panel of 19 Nevada residents appointed by the Legislature to assist in the overall revenue study. The group’s charge was to produce a document highlighting what the group wanted Nevada to look like over the next several years.

The draft report included a discussion on taxes but did not include any specific recommendations.

Lawmakers are facing a revenue shortfall in the next budget that could total as much as $3.5 billion. The shortfall could mean huge cuts to state programs and education without new revenue. A collection of temporary tax hikes approved by the Legislature in 2009 to balance the current budget are set to expire next June 30.

The study was sought by some lawmakers for guidance on how to deal with the state’s ongoing budget crisis.

Strategy to Avoid Gibbons Vetoes on Tap if Needed

By Sean Whaley | 11:36 am February 25th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Because of the tense relationship between the Legislature and Gov. Jim Gibbons over how to find $900 million to balance the state budget, strategies on how to ensure bills are not vetoed after lawmakers adjourn the special session are ready if needed.

If the Legislature adjourns the special session and Gibbons vetoes one or more bills, the measures could not be considered for an override by lawmakers until the 2011 regular session. A two-thirds vote in both houses is required to override a veto.

Gibbons has already announced his intentions to veto the Race to the Top measure giving Nevada the ability to compete for up to $175 million in federal funds to improve student achievement. The measure, Senate Bill 2, contains language Gibbons opposes.

Gibbons has also said he will veto bills that do not meet his standards for new fees the Legislature may impose to balance the budget. Gibbons has said he will veto such measures unless they meet with the approval of those who must pay the new revenues.

Lawmakers are looking at increased gaming fees, among other proposals.

Gibbons vetoed a record number of bills in the 2009 session. Many were overridden by the Legislature but others were sustained.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said all potential contingencies have been explored to ensure some key piece of legislation needed to balance the budget does not end up vetoed, leaving a hole in the spending plan that Gibbons might then deal with on his own after lawmakers have left town.

“We’re not going to adjourn,” Horsford said with a laugh when asked. “We’ve discussed all of our options. We’re here to get the job done, and we have thought through what all of the potential problems may be.”

Rather than adjourn the session “sine die” and allow the potential veto scenario to arise, Horsford said the Senate, in agreement with the Assembly, can adjourn for a set number of days and then return to the capital to override any vetoed bills if need be.

Gibbons has five days to veto a bill, not counting the day the bill was transmitted to his office, and not counting Sundays. So if the Legislature finishes its special session on Sunday, Gibbons would have until Friday to veto a measure.

Horsford said the Legislature continues to try to work with Gibbons to avoid such a scenario.

“We’re always working towards that goal; whether he sees the value in working with us is another story,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he is not aware of any such strategy discussions.

“I’m more concerned about doing what we need to do than political strategy,” he said.

“The governor has as much stake as the Legislature in dealing with this shortfall,” Raggio said. “I wouldn’t think anybody would want to put obstacles to meet the constitutional requirement to balancing a budget.”

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the Legislature has used such an adjournment process before. In the 21st special session, when the impeachment of the late Controller Kathy Augustine was under way, the session began in November. The Legislature then adjourned until December to give Augustine a chance to prepare a defense to the charges.

Malkiewich, who is an attorney, said he also disagrees with the position of Gibbons that the governor has the authority to set a time to end a special session. That authority rests with the Legislature, he said.

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said the governor “knows” he has the right to set an ending time for the session, and he has directed lawmakers to finish by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. Any bills that are passed after that time would not even be considered valid bills, he said.

There is an existing attorney general opinion supporting his position, Burns said.

Rather than worry about end strategies, the Legislature should just move quickly to balance the budget and address the pressing issues, he said.

“Every day they meet is another laid off state worker,” Burns said.

The session is costing $50,000 a day.

Legislative Leadership Rejects Request by Governor Gibbons to Draft Bills for Possible Special Session

By Sean Whaley | 12:12 pm January 8th, 2010

(Updated at 12:58 p.m. on Jan. 8)

CARSON CITY – If Governor Jim Gibbons wants to bring his entire education reform agenda to a special session of the Legislature, from eliminating mandates for class-size reduction to repealing Nevada’s collective bargaining law, he will have to draft the bills himself.

The leadership of the Legislature has rejected a request by Gibbons to draft the several bills implementing his education proposals he released earlier this week in advance of a possible special session.

Instead, his own legal counsel, Adriana Fralick, will draft the bills Gibbons wants the Legislature to consider in a special session, if one is called. But there is no guarantee they will get introduced, let alone get a hearing.

Legislative leadership has indicated that the only bills that will be considered in a special session will come from the Committee of the Whole in each house, not from the governor or individual lawmakers.

Even a request by Gibbons for a bill draft to remove a few words in a state law making Nevada ineligible for federal “Race to the Top” school improvement funds has been rejected by legislative leadership.

Robin Reedy, chief of staff, to Gibbons, said she was shocked to hear of the decision by legislative leadership. The governor’s proposals only seek the repeal of mandates for class-size reduction, all-day kindergarten and collective bargaining, not their elimination, she said.

“I’m tired of their partisanship in not releasing ideas and not giving us ideas,” Reedy said. “They criticize us in the newspapers, but they don’t sit at this table and tell us how they want to tweak it to make it better.”

Reedy said sending over the bill draft requests is an attempt to be transparent and tell lawmakers the issues Gibbons wants to be discussed if a special session is called.

Gibbons, in a letter sent today to Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, has threatened legal action over the failure to draft his proposals.

As first reported by RalstonFlash, Gibbons said in the letter he does not believe it is “legally permissible” for the legislative counsel to decline to draft legislation for the governor.

“A prompt reply to this quandary is appreciated, as the necessity for a definitive answer vis-a-vis the court system is imminently ripe should the Legislative Counsel not perform her Constitutional and statutory duties to draft legislation for the Governor.”

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said a special session is no time to take up complex policy issues.

“Special sessions are called for special reasons,” she said. “They are costly. We need to stay focused on the issue at hand, which is solving our imminent budget crisis.”

Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, said the dispute is all about politics as Gibbons and Democratic lawmakers gear up for a session in the midst of an election year.

“I don’t take it too seriously,” he said. “It is gamesmanship, going back and forth preparing for the match.”

Coffin said he would not be opposed to having legislative staff prepare Gibbons’ bill drafts as a courtesy, but it is unlikely his proposals will get a hearing. If a special session is called, the emphasis will be to get any pressing issues resolved and the budget balanced quickly, he said.

There won’t be time for a lengthy debate on the policy issues raised this week by Gibbons, Coffin said.

Gibbons raised the bill drafting issue in a meeting this week with lawmakers. According to one source, Gibbons said at the meeting that if he is limited to a single bill draft for a special session, then he will call a separate special session for each of his proposals.

There is a prohibition on raising money for political campaigns for a limited time around any special session.

There is no bill draft allotment specified for a governor for a special session, unlike regular sessions where a governor gets to submit a specified number of proposals for drafting.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the direction on the bill drafting policy came from leadership. Democrats control both the state Senate and Assembly.

In the past it has not been an issue, because the governor and lawmakers have agreed before hand on the agenda and the bills necessary to be considered at a special session, he said.

There is a concern about whether legislative staff time should be spent drafting a bill repealing the state’s collective bargaining law if there is no appetite to take up such an issue, Malkiewich said.

Only Gibbons can call the Legislature to special session, and only he can dictate the agenda for the Legislature to consider. But what bills are drafted and introduced are in the purview of the Legislature.

Gibbons on Wednesday unveiled his plan to reform education and help balance the budget.

Included is the repeal of class size mandates in lower elementary grades and repeal of a requirement for all-day kindergarten, along with the collective bargaining repeal.

Reedy said: “We’re not drawing lines in the sand and saying we’re getting rid of collective bargaining. We’re saying this is an option that we can look at – and lets work on these ideas from now until a special session, if one is called.”

Reedy said Gibbons wants to have a discussion on important public policy issues, not just measures to bring the state budget into balance. It is currently $67 million short of anticipated tax revenues.

The idea is not to repeal class size reduction and take all that funding for use in balancing the budget, she said. The plan is to eliminate the mandate and let schools, parents and teachers decide how best to spend the money.

“I’m tired of the partisan scare tactics that they throw up in order to have a smoke screen to not analyze the real problems,” Reedy said. “The real problem is for 20 years we’ve been doing the same thing the same way and getting the same result.”