The 76th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature begins on February 7, 2011. 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 76th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature
The 42 Assembly members and 21 Senate members of the 76th Nevada Legislature are facing some of the most critical problems in state history. Due to term limits, they will be meeting with a slew of new members, many of which are new to public office and the legislative process. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is new for this session as well, having taken office on January 3, 2011.
Just about every issue to be dealt with by the 2011 Nevada Legislature can be lumped under one heading - budget. A projected revenue shortfall of $1 billion to $3 billion will require some serious slash and burn action across the budget landscape. The fighting (and hopefully compromising) will be over where to cut and how much. Things that have been publically floated as possible places to cut include Nevada state museums, health care, state worker salaries, and welfare services, to name just a few. Governor Sandoval was elected on a pledge of no new taxes, so we'll see how that works out when the dollars meet the road.
Another task of the 76th regular session of the Nevada Legislature is reapportionment. Assembly and Senate districts must be rejiggered every 10 years following the federal census. With almost a million more Nevadans since the 2000 census, this will be a big job. Population growth also gives Nevada one more representative to the U.S. House of Representatives. Carving out a new congressional district will undoubtedly result in some conflict between urban (mostly Las Vegas and Clark County) and rural (just about everywhere else) interests in Nevada.
Political Makeup of the 76th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature
Republicans made gains in both houses of the Nevada Legislature in the 2010 general election, but Democrats retain control of both houses. The party affiliations going into the 2011 regular session are...
- Assembly - Democrats 26, Republicans 16
- Senate - Democrats 11, Republicans 10
Nevada's top executives in 2011, Governor Brian Sandoval and Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki, are both Republicans.
Retirement of Nevada State Senator Bill Raggio
At the beginning of 2011, veteran Nevada State Senator Bill Raggio (R-Reno) announced his retirement, effective January 15. Citing health problems, Raggio, 84, said it was time to step down after over 50 years of public service in Nevada. Raggio was first elected to the state Senate in 1972 and was Republican leader since 1983. His retirement was two years into a four-year term, which would have been his last due to term limits. Since Raggio's district is entirely within Washoe County, a replacement will be named by the Washoe County Commission by the time the 76th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature convenes on February 7, 2011.
Raggio endorsed U.S. Senator Harry Reid over Republican challenger Sharron Angle in the 2010 general election. This breach of party unity, along with many pragmatic rather than dogmatic decisions during his career, did not sit well with other Senate Republicans. Raggio was voted out of his minority leadership position in the State Senate for the 76th Regular Session, which may have bolstered his decision to step down. In any event, Raggio's sudden exit will make it even more difficult to craft compromises and reach decisions that will be needed during the 76th Regular Session of 2011.
Update: On January 18, 2011, Washoe County Commissioners selected Greg Brower to serve out the remainder of retiring Senator Bill Raggio's term. Brower was one of 13 candidates seeking the appointment to Senate District 3. Brower was in the Nevada Assembly for the 1999 and 2001 sessions and has also been the U.S. Attorney for Nevada.
Stay Tuned to the 76th 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...
- Prefiled Bills of the 76th (2011) Session
- Draft Bill Request List of the 76th (2011) Session
- Personalized Bill Tracking for the 76th (2011) 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, Politico.