(Assemblyman John Hambrick) – Now that some time has passed since “sine die,” the closing of the 2011 Legislative session I thought I might write down some of my impressions.
Keep in mind – my thoughts are those of a conservative Republican and are worth what you paid for them.
At the beginning of the session, it was very clear that one side was going to attempt to ride roughshod over the other. The number of BDR’s (bill draft request) being heard and passed by the committees of the Assembly clearly showed a disparity of the bills being heard, approved, and forwarded to the floor. The Nevada Legislature does not use Robert’s Rules of Order, but rather it uses Mason’s Rules. Consequently, all of the power rests in the gavel. On the first day of the legislative session, both the Senate and Assembly pass special rules on voice votes only. There is no discussion, no questions, and no chance to challenge the outcome of the votes.
Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means comprise the Interim Finance Committee, which will “rule” over all money matters when the Legislature is not in session. And during session, any bill that has a fiscal impact will be referred to the money committees. Even if a bill has a serious impact on a policy issue, if there is a small fiscal note, it comes before the money committees.
The policy committees (Judiciary, Government Affairs, Education, Transportation, Commerce and Labor, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources, Taxation, and Legislative Operations) can change laws, rules, and affect the day to day operations of the State. However, if the money committees fail to pass the bills out of committee, the bills will die.
If a bill does reach the floor, it still can be referred or re-referred to any committee for some type of action or amendment. Near the end of the session, the “D’s” had bill upon bill referred to the “desk” for the purpose of an amendment. The entire bill could be gutted and all new language added. The bill would be pulled from the “desk” and voted on by voice vote.
The chairman of a committee could put a bill in his or her desk drawer and never hear it (AB4, AB5, AB8, and AB106). I had two bills that passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee, but Chairman William Horne never brought them to the floor. One was an interim bill addressing Human Trafficking (AB112). William Horne killed several bills that increased penalties for human trafficking. He additionally killed a bill that would ease the ability to carry a concealed weapon on campus.
The Nevada Supreme Court threw the Governor a real curve ball concerning the $62 million dollar lawsuit on the State’s right to swipe or take monies designed for a county’s use. Senator Horsford and Speaker Oceguera had an ex parte conversation with the Supreme Court and requested the Court to issue a ruling sooner than later. They did, and the Governor found himself in a box. The Governor had several meetings with both the Senate and Assembly Republican Caucuses. He explained his options and concerns should the ruling be used by others to demand the return of monies taken by passed legislatures. I had hoped he would decide one way, but he decided to use a broad interpretation of the ruling. In the end, the Governor was correct.
The session did not see any real changes in collective bargaining, construction defect, or several other conservative issues. I believe we must get more conservatives elected.
I have two questions and a challenge for you. Do you remember the campaign promises made by Republican candidates for the Legislature? The ones you voted for. Now can you remember how they voted? OK, here comes the challenge—-what are you going to do about their votes?
Remember the November 2012 election. You must stay engaged, especially after re-districting. We have a real shot at gaining seats in both the State Senate and Assembly.
We need to have qualified candidates for the open constitutional offices and support Joe Heck, Mark Amodei, and Dean Heller and a qualified candidate for CD1.
(Assemblyman Hambrick represents District 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada.)