The 77th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature begins on February 4, 2013. Biennial (every two years) sessions of the Nevada Legislature are limited by law to 120 days. The Nevada Legislature is composed of a 42 member Assembly and a 21 member Senate. The Governor may call special sessions of the Legislature if the need arises between regular sessions.
Issues for the 77th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature
The 42 Assembly members and 21 Senate members of the 77th Nevada Legislature are facing some critical issues. Due to term limits and other factors, they will be meeting with a slew of new members, many of whom are new to public office and the legislative process. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is now in the middle of his first term in office.
Just about every issue to be dealt with by the 2013 Nevada Legislature is related to the budget in one way or another. The top priority is likely to be improvements in Nevada's K-12 and higher education systems. Governor Sandoval outlined his proposals in his State of the State address in January. Right up there with education is going to be taxation. Alternatives to both of these subjects were outlined by Senator Mo Denis in the Democratic response following Sandoval's speech. A good sign, however, is the fact that state revenues have been growing over the last couple of years, which should eliminate further cuts in state government employees and services.
Sandoval's proposed general fund budget* for the next biennium is $6.5 billion, an increase of $350 million since spending was last set in 2011. Sandoval wants to put the new revenue into higher education ($29 million), K-12 education, ($135 million), and the state Department of Health and Human Services ($136 million). (*This is a large file and takes a while to download.)
What's already proving to be a contentious issue is a new voter ID system being proposed by Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller. Under his plan, voters would be identified by a picture when they go to cast their ballots. Miller wants to use the photos on file with the Nevada DMV, which already includes about 98 percent of eligible voters. Those without a photo would be able to vote by signing their name as under the current system. The $10 million needed to implement the voter ID system, along with fears of voter suppression efforts, are giving some legislators pause. Others are all for it and think such an update is long overdue.
Political Makeup of the 77th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature
There was quite a bit of turnover in the Nevada Legislature as a result of the 2012 general election, but after the dust settled, the numbers barely changed and Democrats retained control of both houses. Even so, the Democratic majorities are not large enough to override any vetoes by the governor without some Republicans crossing over. The party affiliations going into the 2012 regular session are...
- Assembly - Democrats 27, Republicans 15
- Senate - Democrats 11, Republicans 10
There is new leadership in the 77th Nevada Legislature as well. Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D, North Las Vegas) will be Speaker of the Assembly and Senator Moises (Mo) Denis (D, Las Vegas) will be Majority Leader.
Nevada's top executives in 2012 are still Governor Brian Sandoval and Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki, both Republicans. Holders of other constitutional offices also remained unchanged. All of them will be up for grabs in the elections of 2014.
Stay Tuned to the 77th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature
The Nevada Legislature website has numerous links to information and ways citizens can participate and stay informed. Here are some of them...
- Nevada Electronic Legislative Information System (NELIS)
- Prefiled Bills of the 77th (2013) Session
- Bill Draft Request (BDR) List of the 77th (2013) Session
- Personalized Legislative Tracking (PLT) for the 77th (2013) Session
- Legislative Committees for the 77th (2013) Session
- Legislator Information for the 77th (2013) Session
- Share Your Opinion with the Legislature
Nevada Legislature Live Online Broadcasts
The Nevada Legislature provides live broadcasts of various meetings and proceedings. To find out what is playing and when, go to the Live Broadcasts page and follow the viewing directions.
Sources: Nevada Legislature, Reno Gazette-Journal.