(Assemblyman Pat Hickey) – As spring pushes its way to the surface like an Easter tulip emerging from a long blustery winter—Nevada lawmakers are finally beginning to have conversations [arguments] about the outcome of the 76th Session.
The dialogue in last week’s town-hall style forum I helped sponsor on “The Recession, Revenues and Nevada’s Recovery,” was honest and at times heated. So too, were the meetings this past week of the Assembly and Senate in meetings of the Committee of the Whole. Reviewing the K-12 and Higher Education budgets, members asked tough questions of the Governor’s staff and education officials. The press duly reported on the occasional rancor, which made for a host of “sexy” stories you have read. Still, with the occasional emotional exchanges on the Floor, the heartfelt [and sometimes hard line] positions of both sides were finally on display.
With 45 days remaining before the final curtain comes down on the Session, we will see if the cast of 63 actors can untangle ourselves from the “strings” that bind us in hopes of avoiding looking like marionettes in a partisan-scripted finale.
To that end, I have proposed a meeting of the 20 members of the Freshman Caucus to convene a bi-partisan open meeting on this coming Thursday, April 28th at 3:00 PM in Assembly Room 3137. The working title for the “roundtable” discussion is, “In Search for Solutions.” I am hoping members of both parties will attend. With the fact that legislators are no longer being paid, maybe we will start to get serious about getting out of Carson without wasting the taxpayer’s money on additional sessions because we didn’t get our business done in the voter-mandated time allotted.
I have said all along that given Nevada’s Recession-caused crisis, individual member’s bills (including my own) pale in comparison to the seriousness of the larger budget matters before us. Still, I am pleased that some of my proposed legislation is still alive.
Chairwoman Debbie Smith of Ways and Means, gave a hearing to AB 375, a bill to direct additional revenues found after the May 2nd Economic Forum toward education with 60% going to K-12 and 40% toward Higher Education. School and university leaders from across the spectrum testified in support of the bill that gives lawmakers an opportunity to “put their money where the public’s mouth is” with regard to the oft-stated priority of funding education in the Silver State.
Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson added an amendment for Bernie Carter’s Railroad Whistle bill (AB 384) that will help neighbors in both our districts sleep better should Reno ever put in the Quiet Safety Zones along the Truckee River that have been promised. My “consensus documents” legislation (AB 228) asked for by the Associated General Contractors, will be studied during the Interim in the hopes of saving time and money for all those involved in public works contracts.
Finally, it was a sad week witnessing the passing of UNR President Milton Glick. Dr. Glick sat in my office this past Thursday lobbying for his beloved university and the students and faculty that adored him.
May God grant peace to the soul of one truly remarkable man.
(Assemblyman Hickey is a Republican representing District 25 in Washoe County.)