THE TWENTY-THIRD DAY
Carson City (Thursday), July 17, 2003
Senate called to order at 9:13 a.m.
President Hunt presiding.
Prayer by the Chaplain, Pastor Albert Tilstra.
The warm sunshine on our backs, God, is reassurance that You are watching. The warm summer breeze whispers Your words of guidance. May that whisper be heard by the Senators, today, as they work together to solve the problems of closing the funding of the budget.
As people are killed and hurt while shopping in an open market, as children are being molested when they have gone shopping, as soldiers are being killed fighting for the freedom of a nation, You have so much that needs Your attention on this earth. But we are assured that You are interested in what goes on in these legislative halls, and that You will give Your wisdom to bring closure to the work that is before this Chamber today. We leave these women and men in Your hands. Thank You.
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.
remarks from the floor
Remarks by Senators Raggio and Neal.
Senator Neal requested that his remarks be entered in the Journal.
Madam President, I would like to make a few comments about the harsh criticism our Supreme Court has received over their decision about the lawsuit filed by the Governor.
I believe the Court had no alternative but to receive the lawsuit and rule as they did. It came as a surprise to many people that they ruled the two-thirds vote was a bar to reaching a conclusion. They may have had another course they could have taken. They could have told us to raise certain taxes, but they chose to remove what was considered the obstacle. Something we must understand is that we are charged with delivering the public good.
This procedure is like driving up to a gate where 28 people are needed to open the gate and you ask for help, but only 27 are willing to help. On the other side of that gate, the need is substantial and must be attended to. If you cannot pass that one gate, then irreparable harm and suffering will occur. Those waiting on the other side of the gate are the school children, contracts the State has entered into and other obligations needing fulfillment such as taking care of the State prison and law enforcement.
The Court decided they would remove the obstacle of the two-thirds vote. They referred to the obstacle as “procedural,” and it has prevented substantive duties from being carried out. Those duties include taking care of the public good of this State.
Some have said the judges should be impeached or recalled. I do not think that is necessary. The Court had an issue before it. Many legislatures in this country face the same problem. California is facing a much deeper budgetary crisis. They have a $38 billion budget deficit. They are thinking about following the decision made by the Nevada Supreme Court to try to remove their obstacle of the two-thirds vote so that they may take care of their state business.
The Court did the job it was called upon to do. We can put laws on the books by stirring up the passions of people. No one debated the issue as to whether or not we would have these types of conflicts with other provisions of the Constitution or whether the Legislature could meet its assigned duty to take care of the public good and the general welfare of the citizens of this State.
We cannot govern by gridlock. We cannot govern by stalemate. Something has to give. The Court in its judgment gave us a way. They have been challenged for that, but we cannot hold their decision against them. As a student of government, political science and constitutional history, I have been taught you must interpret the Constitution in light of governmental operation and what it means to the function of the government.
I have asked the question, if you had a situation where the State was under attack and you could not get the needed two-thirds vote to declare war, what would you do? Do you stand there and take whatever is fired at you, or do you remove the barrier that prevents you from acting in your own defense? The answer is you remove the barrier that prevents action.
We find ourselves in such a situation. I hope that whatever decision the federal court makes will be directed towards this Legislature achieving the public good and operating for the general welfare of the citizens of this State.
It is important for people to have measures put into law or put into the Constitution. In stirring those passions to do such, we have to be aware of the whole. Sometimes, we forget that the whole is much greater than one of its parts. The Court has said we can operate with a majority to carry out actions that pertain to the people and, in particular, to our school children.
We have lost a great deal during these past few months in terms of meeting the general needs of the public. We must do something, but we cannot do it unless we have this problem resolved in favor of the people. It is my firm conviction—the Court did what it had to do. We should not be angry at their ruling. They had to rule to remove the two-thirds restriction or rule to raise the taxes or do nothing. They chose to remove the two-thirds. I feel that will be everlasting if it stands. This will allow us to reach a decision if we find ourselves in a gridlock again.
I told a friend of a 1928 U.S. Supreme Court case. The ruling in that case stated, “the Constitution has to be interpreted in light of the operation of government.” The ruling was addressing the separation of powers. The case is Hampton v. the United States.
Madam President, when we leave here, we must tell the public what is going on in this building and what is at stake. We must tell the public what the Supreme Court has done to try to alleviate this problem. We should not criticize them. They are part of the three branches of government along with the Legislative and Executive branches. They are there for the purpose they just served. They are here to help us operate this government to meet the general needs of the public. We are not doing that right now. We are meeting and meeting and meeting, but we are being kept from reaching a decision because there are people who have strong convictions who wish to go in different directions even though the majority of this Legislature has gone in another direction as they try to resolve this stalemate. I hope the press and others will carry the story that the Supreme Court has done a good job. If those individuals who are in opposition to the Court’s decision want to direct their venom toward me, then let it be. I can take it. I have been here for 31 years, and I have always spoken my mind on issues I feel are important to this State, and I have compromised when I felt it was important to the State. There are those who are trying to stir the passions of the people and to recall the judges because of their decisions. They feel that the decision is in opposition to what the people had passed.
My friend, beside me, stated, if the people had voted on a constitutional amendment to create a poll tax, it would have been declared unconstitutional. The passion of the people can be stirred to have them vote for issues that may not be in the public interest or for constitutional provisions which conflict as in the present case. Sometimes our actions and our passions must be tested against other laws and viewpoints as time passes. This issue was tested. We have seen the results of that test. It has prevented us from reaching a decision, and the Court says it must be removed. They did the right thing.
Senator Raggio moved that the Senate recess subject to the call of the Chair.
Senate in recess at 9:35 a.m.
SENATE IN SESSION
At 3:31 p.m.
President Hunt presiding.
Senator Raggio moved that the Senate adjourn until Friday, July 18, 2003 at 10 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 3:32 p.m.
Approved: Lorraine T. Hunt
President of the Senate
Attest: Claire J. Clift
Secretary of the Senate