(Andrew Doughman/Nevada News Bureau) – Add it up and some of them have to die.
There is not enough time for the Legislature to hear every bill, but that has not stopped Republicans from accusing Democrats of ignoring Republican bills.
The partisan sniping comes as legislators are scrambling to save their bills from extinction of bills as a legislative deadline looms.
Republicans in the Assembly have the added weight of a list of bills they need to see passed before considering voting for a tax increase.
If some proposals are not given a look, “you’re not going to get a tax increase,” said Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas.
He accused some committee chairs of completely ignoring Republican bills.
Democrats see it differently.
“We don’t want to spend our resources, frankly, on things that don’t have a chance,” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.
Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, made a point that new legislators like Sherwood may have unrealistic expectations.
“I think part of the issue is that we have a lot of new people who have a vision in their head that everything will get heard,” he said. “And it just doesn’t happen.”
Oceguera also noted that there are more Democrats than Republicans, so the ratio of bills heard in committees reflects that.
Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, sent an email to Majority Leader Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, yesterday alleging that Senate Democrats also are ignoring Republican bills.
As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, Republican leadership in the Senate downplayed the allegations, calling them “isolated incidents.”
Roberson, who is a freshman legislator, said yesterday that he is not alone in his views.
“Some people would consider the way they’re [Democrats] running things foolhardy,” he said. “…If the Democrats don’t want to hear our bills, that’s their prerogative. However, we are elephants and we do have long memories.”
Democrats in leadership positions have yet to propose any tax increases, but would need some Republican help to overcome a veto from GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Sandoval has said repeatedly he won’t “trade taxes for anything.”
Other Republicans, however, might make trades, and how their bills are treated may be part of the bargain.
But the partisan rancor over who gets their bills heard does not apply to all committees.
Minority Assembly leader Pete Giocoechea, R-Eureka, said that the bills are just “slow coming” and there is not yet a problem.
He noted the Legislature still has seven working days left before the deadline for committees to pass bills.
Some committee leaders also do seem to be hearing bills from both parties. Today, Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, gave a contentious Republican bill a hearing.
The bill from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, resembles a controversial immigration law in Arizona. Democrats would almost certainly not vote for Hansen’s bill.
“She [Kirkpatrick] went out of her way to give me a hearing knowing that bill was dead on arrival,” he said. “There is a level of fairness in that they give me a chance to be heard.”
Next Friday is the first deadline for bills to pass out of their committee. Not all bills get hearings and more bills will die later.
That’s part of the process, says Oceguera.
“The process is built in such a way to kill bills,” he said. “It’s not built in a way to pass bills. It’s hard to pass a bill. It’s easy to kill bills.”