(Jim Clark) – With hassles over taxes, reapportionment and budget, I assumed our legislators had all the controversy they needed for this session, but I received a phone call last Friday from Incline’s former Assemblyman (now state senator) James Settelmeyer (R – Douglas County) who informed me that Senator John Lee (D – N. Las Vegas), chair of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, was going to file Senate Bill 271, which would pull the State of Nevada out of the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact.
I didn’t even know Nevada could take its share of Lake Tahoe and let the California side go pound sand, but the legislative counsel’s digest of the bill recites: “Existing law . .. provides that if either state withdraws from the compact, the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency shall assume the duties and powers of regulating environmental and land use matters . . . “ on the Nevada side.
There actually is a Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that was originally created solely to deal with gaming issues because they didn’t want Californians sticking their noses in Nevada’s business. The NTRPA consists of the seven TRPA governing board members appointed to represent Nevada; it has met several times to deal with gaming law issues in connection with the remodel of the Crystal Bay Club.
Senator Settelmeyer explained that the motivation behind the bill was to improve the public accountability of governing board members. The present composition of the Nevada side of TRPA (and the NTRPA) is one appointee each from Washoe, Carson, and Douglas Counties, one appointee each by Nevada’s governor, secretary of state, and head of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Those six get together and appoint a seventh. None of the last four can live in the basin. The Washoe and Douglas spots are usually county commissioners who have some, but not many, constituents in the basin. No voters or other humans live in the Carson City Rural Area, which abuts the lake, so there is no accountability to voters nor is there any effective accountability of any of the other appointees.
Senate Bill 271 provides for seven governing body members, three under the present method by the county commission of each contiguous county and one each appointed by Nevada’s governor, lieutenant governor, the state forester firewarden, and the administrator of the division of state lands, all of which appointees according to the bill “shall represent the public at large within the State of Nevada.” It’s hard to see where accountability of the NTRPA governing body is much different than at present.
I guess the improved accountability comes with the creation of a legislative committee for the review and oversight of the NTRPA. Under the bill, the committee would consist of three members of the senate and three from the assembly, folks who have to answer to voters every two or four years.
No one is saying this, but one big advantage of the proposal would be getting shed of California’s reach into the Nevada side of the lake. At present, every proposal has to be approved by a majority of the governing board plus a majority of governing board members from the side of the lake where the property in question is located. With California’s penchant for electing and appointing flaming liberals, property rights are in continuing jeopardy.
Will is pass? Bipartisan sponsors include Democrat Lee and Republican Settelmeyer in the Senate and Assemblymen Hickey, Kirner, and Kite, all Republicans. Former TRPA governing board member Brian Sandoval is now Nevada’s governor and may also favor independence from California.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org )