By Mary Lau
As many of RAN’s members already know, the legislative building opened mid-April. To be more accurate I should say sort of opened. The rules were complicated and vaccine requirements existed along with COVID 19 testing prior to entry. The complexities of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine made it even more concerning, even fully vaccinated people that hadn’t passed the “timeline” also were tested before entering the building. Even then social distancing and occupancy rates kept lobbyists and public to a minimum due to the number of legislators and staff.
During the remaining part of April, following the Governors relaxation of restrictions announced for May, there remained options to speak with legislators depending on their appetite for appointments. Testimony continued to be multi-faceted with limited in-person, Zoom (by arrangement) and call in. The session remained more difficult and fully vetted bills with detailed information, by either side, were almost impossible. RAN has had some good bills acknowledged and passed; however, some of the most important consumer protection bills died by edict – not for lack of votes. One such bill is covered separately in this edition of Nevada News.
May has provided a slightly better opportunity for input and monitoring. One glaring problem, it was late to address the unheeded initial concerns as bills had already been “heard” in the house of origin. Many bills get last minute amendments when the sponsor can be approached in the building and a problem pointed out. That didn’t happen and minds were made up. The RAN Matrix for this session will be interesting. We should probably consider more columns for business unfriendly bill introductions and committee assistance points will be slim to none.
The complexity of the 81st Legislative Session resulted in a lot of confusion, back-logs, amendment difficulties and some moved timelines. COVID19 wreaked havoc on the LCB staff too. As a result, the major policy decisions were not even available for public viewing until after the 1st legislative deadline for bills to move from the house of introduction to the second house. Legislators will have less time to discuss, vet or even understand the complex policy issues because of these decisions and drafting interruptions. We’ve never had major policy issues introduced this late, not to mention multiple issues. How does this make for good public policy and avoid the unintended consequences of hasty work?
What we do know is that Nevada’s Carson City residents will, more than likely, be host to two additional special sessions. One to consider how to spend the “Biden Bucks” and one in the fall to consider reapportionment. The suggested October session cannon be held earlier than that as we are waiting for the US Census count.