THE SEVENTH DAY
Carson City (Monday), July 1, 2003
Senate called to order at 8:23 a.m.
President Hunt presiding.
All present except Senators Neal and Nolan, who were absent.
Prayer by Senator Washington.
Father, we thank You for Your grace and Your goodness. Thank You for this day that You blessed. We pray, O God, that You would give us insight, wisdom and direction. We pray, O God, that You would help us to look over the matters that are beforehand that we may be able to do the business of the citizens of this great State. We thank You for this opportunity, and we give You glory. In Christ’s Name,
Pledge of allegiance to the Flag.
Senator Raggio moved that further reading of the Journal be dispensed with, and the President and Secretary be authorized to make the necessary corrections and additions.
MOTIONS, RESOLUTIONS AND NOTICES
By Senator Raggio and Titus:
Senate Resolution No. 4—Acknowledging the petition for a Writ of Mandamus filed by the Governor of the State of Nevada requesting the Nevada Supreme Court to direct the Senate and Assembly to fulfill certain constitutional obligations.
Whereas, Section 1 of Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution provides that the legislative authority of the State of Nevada is vested in a Senate and Assembly which shall be designated as the Legislature of the State of Nevada; and
Whereas, Sections 2 and 6 of Article 11 of the Nevada Constitution require the Legislature of the State of Nevada to provide for a uniform system of common schools and to provide for the support and maintenance of those schools; and
Whereas, In accordance with this constitutional duty to fund schools, the Senate of the State of Nevada, during this 20th Special Session of the Legislature, passed Senate Bill No. 4, to make appropriations to the State Distributive School Account for the purposes of class-size reduction, and Senate Bill No. 5, to apportion the State Distributive School Account and to authorize certain expenditures for educational purposes; and
Whereas, Section 2 of Article 9 of the Nevada Constitution requires the Nevada Legislature to provide by law for an annual tax sufficient to defray the estimated expenses of the State for each fiscal year and to provide for a tax that is sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the estimated expenses of the State; and
Whereas, To carry out this constitutional duty, the Senate of the State of Nevada, during the 20th Special Session, passed by a constitutional two-thirds majority vote Senate Bill No. 2 and Senate Bill No. 6, which together would provide for sufficient revenues to ensure that the State Distributive School Account and the program for class-size reduction are adequately funded; and
Whereas, The Attorney General of the State of Nevada, on behalf of the Governor of this state, has filed in the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada a petition for the issuance of a Writ of Mandamus that would direct the Legislature to act by a time certain to comply with Section 6 of Article 11 and Section 2 of Article 9 of the Nevada Constitution by appropriating an amount sufficient for the support of the common schools and providing by law for an annual tax that is sufficient to defray the estimated expenses of the State for the fiscal years commencing on July 1, 2003, and July 1, 2004; and
Whereas, During this 20th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature, the Senate of the State of Nevada has carried out its constitutional duties on behalf of the residents of this state by passing legislation to support the common schools of this state and to provide sufficient revenues for a balanced budget; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate of the State of Nevada, That this body hereby acknowledges the filing by the Governor of the State of Nevada of a petition for a Writ of Mandamus directing the Senate and Assembly to fulfill their constitutional obligations to provide for the support and maintenance of schools and for a balanced budget; and be it further
Resolved, That the members of the Senate hereby direct the Legislative Counsel to take such actions as are necessary and appropriate to respond on behalf of the Senate of the State of Nevada to the Governor’s petition for a Writ of Mandamus; and be it further
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate prepare and transmit a copy of this resolution to the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
Senator Raggio moved the adoption of the resolution.
Remarks by Senators Raggio, O'Connell and Care.
remarks from the floor
Senator Raggio requested that the remarks of Legislative Counsel, Brenda Erdoes be entered in the Journal.
Remarks by Senators Raggio, Mathews, Shaffer, Rawson, Titus, Amodei, Care and President Hunt.
Senator Raggio requested that the following remarks be entered in the Journal.
Thank you, Madam President. At this point, there is nothing further we can do, but Legislative Counsel is here and will answer any questions you might have concerning the procedure from this point on. There is no time frame for the response.
Brenda J. Erdoes (Legislative Counsel):
Thank you. We were served with this petition, last night, by the Attorney General at about midnight. There is not much I can tell you about what will happen next. The Supreme Court does not have to accept or decide to do anything with the petition. It can reject it. It can issue the writ without giving us a chance to respond. I suggest, it is more likely that they will set a briefing schedule. We will be directed to respond within a certain time frame. Generally, that is between 10 to 30 days. We do not have any indication from the Court as to what that briefing schedule might be or whether they will accept this case.
Thank you. Can we continue to work so that we might be able to work out the tax package without the Court telling us what we need to do, or do we have to wait because we have been served?
There is no requirement that I know of requiring you to wait. You can work as you wish during this time.
How do we go about doing that? I do not understand why we are sitting around for the rest of the summer. We know we have to do this. We know the Court is going to tell us to do something. Is there any reason why we should not continue to work so that we can get this business finished?
I am not certain that is a question I can answer. I can tell you that legally I have nothing that tells me you cannot work during this time. I believe you can meet if you should choose to do so.
Thank you, Madam President. Could any of the lobbyists who have influenced the outcome of our efforts here be held responsible in any way?
At this point, the case is solely against the Legislature and the Lieutenant Governor. The lobbyists are not named. They could, therefore, not be held responsible at this point.
Thank you, Madam President. I would like to ask the Majority Leader if there is any communication with the Assembly. Should we begin to plan our affairs, now, to be here today, tomorrow or Monday? We passed a package, and we are waiting for something to come back to us.
Madam President. I do not have any further word other than what they announced during the Assembly session last evening. At that point, the Speaker moved to adjourn the Assembly and asked that it be done with mutual consent of the Senate. That means we can be in a formal adjournment for more than three days. The reasoning is we should not be sitting around this building collecting salary and per diem if we are not accomplishing anything. Though, we are still in a formal session of the 20th Special Session. I hope that everyone who has a part in this process will get together to try to come up with some compromises that meet the needs of the State and the needs of education. To answer Senator Mathews, everyone agrees each person in the Legislature should be working diligently toward a compromise. Whether there is a two-thirds majority appetite to compromise, I have not felt it. This Senate did its job, and the other House must concur or not; otherwise, they must come up with their own plan. I am going to move to adjourn with the consent of the Assembly so that we do not sit here costing the State money with nothing to be accomplished. On the other hand, during that period I ask that anyone who has the capability or the ability to help create the consensus that will meet the two-thirds vote, do so. I will be doing that. That is my position.
I was here last night at 12:01 a.m. when we were served. I was with Brenda when we received a copy of the petition from the Attorney General. That was an historic moment. Some may take this lightly, but we should not. I do not want to leave here without making a few comments as a Senator, as a professor of political science, as a citizen and as a voter.
As the Majority Leader has said, this body did compromise and did its job. I did not like everything in the budget. I did not like everything that was included, and I did not like everything that was excluded. I did not like everything in the tax package. I spoke against the payroll part of it, and I had hoped to see some franchise element included. But, by the time the process was over, I realized we are here to represent all of the people of Nevada not just a handful. In order to best do that, you must compromise. That is what I was willing to do and what this body was willing to do. I am proud of that. What we got may not be exactly what everyone wanted, but it was a good approximation of what everyone needed. That is the key to pluralistic democracy.
As a professor, I look at this series of events as an incredible source of material for writing and teaching. This is going into the history books. There is no question about that. Nevada has made the national news. But do not think of this simply as an interesting anecdote. The institutional damage that has been done to the Legislature, the people’s body, which is the most accessible and accountable of the three branches of government, is inestimable.
I am a voter and a taxpayer, too. I look at what has happened, and I cannot help but be discouraged, disappointed and dismayed that the entire State could be held hostage by a handful of people who say, “my way or no way,” who are not willing to compromise and who want to protect special interests as opposed to the interests of this whole State. While we are being held hostage, not only are we spending taxpayer dollars to pay for special sessions, we are remaining at the bottom of every single national list in our rankings as a state. That is unacceptable.
Let us not leave here, today, high-fiving and congratulating each other for holding the line if you are a part of that group of obstructionists. Instead, we should leave here realizing how serious the consequences are that this has happened. Having the Court intervene because the Legislature cannot do its job sets a terrible precedent. I hope we will come back quickly and we will reach the needed compromise so the business of the State may be taken care of and our schools and needed services can be funded.
Thank you, Madam President. I would like to ask if the leadership of the two Houses is meeting even though we are not here. This is something I need to know. It is like not closing the deal.
I am available to anyone and all who want to discuss this. I cannot speak for the entire Senate because we are divided on many issues in this Senate. I will make every effort to work with them. I live here. I will be here. I will send that message to each member. For some time, some of the leadership has not wanted to sit down and discuss these issues. It has been a case of “our way or no way.” I am not pointing to any one faction. It has happened across all segments of the Legislature. I am available. I am certain there are others in this body who want to be available, and they will be welcome. I do not intend to let this thing just sit. I will make every effort, but you cannot talk to people who do not want to talk.
I was referring to the other House and their leadership. I was wondering if something could be ironed out while we are not meeting.
I agree with the remarks made. I hope when we speak of people willing to talk and compromise, that comment extends to the people in industries also. That has been largely unreported, and until one of the major industries in this State gets off the dime, then maybe those who think that is the wrong thing to do might stay on theirs. I would hope they would be willing to talk during this time.
As I look at this petition as filed, where I see all of my colleagues individually named as well as Madam President, I find it to be interesting. As a member of the Bar of the State, I imagine you will all be speaking with your individual counsel as you see fit. I suggest that since you are individually named in litigation, the less you say in public the better until you consult with your lawyers.
When I read the writ, I found it perplexing that the Lieutenant Governor cannot get paid for a special session, cannot vote on the final passage of a bill but can get sued.
To follow up on the comments by the Senator from Carson City on the question asked by Senator Shaffer, there have been rumors in this building during the past few days. Nevada Revised Statute 218.936, a section dealing with the Legislative Counsel Bureau and its relationship with lobbyists states, “The director shall: report suspected violations of the law to the Legislative Commission and Attorney General.” It goes on to say that “the director may suspend the lobbyist’s registration for a specified period or revoke his registration.” I heard the same rumors, and I will follow up on those. If any of you suspect a violation of the law by a lobbyist, I would encourage you to forward that information to Mr. Malkiewich.
Senator Raggio moved that the Senate in conformance with section 15 of Article 4 of the Constitution of the State of Nevada, consent to the adjournment Monday, June 30, 2003 of the Assembly until the call of the Chair and that the Senate, with the consent of the Assembly, adjourn until the call of the Chair.
Senate adjourned at 8:46 a.m.
Approved: Lorraine T. Hunt
President of the Senate
Attest: Claire J. Clift
Secretary of the Senate