(Jim Clark) – As the nation observes the 150th anniversary of the secession of the Confederate States from the union, the burning question locally has been: “Should Nevada secede from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency?”
This issue has been raised in the Nevada Legislature several times in the past and never made it into law, but in this session, the proposal seemed to have legs. According to Assemblyman Pat Hickey (R – Reno), as of June 5 the measure, Senate Bill 271, was assented to by Senators Reid and Heller. Gov Sandoval, Secretary of State Ross Miller, the South Lake Tahoe City Council and the Douglas County Commission all expressed support for it. The bill passed the Nevada Senate by a bipartisan 19 to 2 vote and in the wee hours of the last day of the session was amended and passed 38 to 14 in the assembly and sent back to the senate where it again passed.
Senate Government Affairs Chair John Lee (D – Las Vegas) originally introduced the measure as a bill to immediately withdraw Nevada from the TRPA. It was co-sponsored by Sen. James Settelmeyer (R – Gardnerville) and Assemblymen Kelly Kite (R – Minden) and Randy Kirner (R – Reno). The Republican co-sponsors have previously or currently represent Incline Village. The measure was subsequently amended and made contingent on specific actions by the California Legislature and Congress.
As finally amended, it provides for Nevada’s withdrawal from TRPA on October 1, 2015 unless: (1) the TRPA Governing Board adopts an updated regional plan which “reflects changing economic conditions and the economic effect of regulation on commerce;” and (2) California and Congress approve minor quorum and voting amendments to the TRPA Compact. The latest amendment also establishes a delegation to confer with California about making changes desired by Nevada; it further granted authority to that delegation to sponsor legislation in the 2013 session that would reverse the withdrawal provision. This is all a little strange, but as of this writing, all legislators are sleeping in because they were up to all hours the night before so I can’t find out what’s behind the final amendment.
Sponsors of the bill wanted to make substantive changes in the Governing Board voting. As it is now, each state has seven members on the TRPA Governing Board and for any kind of code change or project approval, a majority of members from each state must vote “aye.” That means if all seven Nevada members and three California members vote “aye,” a proposal still fails. The last-minute amendment seriously waters down the measure and instead creates a delegated body to deal in more detail with issues and resolve them by the next session of the legislature.
In the end, time ran out and the measure as finally amended only kicks the can down the road for a solution. Yet I don’t think this was an exercise in futility. TRPA already sat up and took notice when the proposal was much more severe and withdrawal was immediate. Indeed maybe this mild measure will be a wake up call and persuade California and Congress to consider the actions called for in the original SB 271.
So Nevada started out as “the mouse that roared” and ended up “the mouse that whimpered.” Stay tuned.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com.)