The threatened revolt to try block election of John Hambrick as Assembly Speaker — feared by some, hoped for by others — never materialized as the 2015 Nevada Legislature opened for business Monday.
Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, was nominated without opposition an elected without a dissenting vote by Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno.
Majority Leader Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, told all members they have a tough job to do.
“While hard campaigning and politicking may have won us our jobs, they will do little to help us do our jobs,” Anderson told the body.
He also praised deposed Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas saying she “put policy before politics” in the 2013 session.
“I believe she set a new high bar for us to achieve in the Nevada Assembly,” Anderson said.
For his part, Hambrick, a retired Secret Service agent, called for “a sense of congeniality.”
“We are here for one purpose and one purpose only: To serve the people of this state and my hope is that in the days and weeks wear on, we will not forget that,” Hambrick said. “We do not own these seats. We only occupy them.”
The opening day, with all its attendant pomp and circumstance, was anti-climactic after the fights and confusion that followed the Nov. 4 general election, which saw the Republican take control of the Assembly, Senate and all constitutional officers for the first time since 1929.
Those all too public disputes pitted the more moderate members of the Assembly GOP caucus against a dozen new members with much more conservative agendas led by Assemblywoman Michele Fiore of Las Vegas who was eventually ousted as Taxation Chairman and Majority Leader — the coveted posts she originally claimed.
There was a bit more drama in the Senate which convened with two Democratic members missing. While Minority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said he expected Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas to return today or Wednesday, Sen. Debbie Smith’s situation was far less clear. Smith was reportedly being treated out of state for an unidentified but “life threatening” medical condition.
Smith, D-Sparks, was chairwoman of finance and Assistant Majority Leader in the 2013 session.
With the opening day behind them, lawmakers were expected to waste no time getting down to business. Thirteen of the 20 committees in the two houses have hearings scheduled today. A number of those were orientation sessions to help new members, especially freshmen with no legislative experience, understand the committee process.
But some including the money committees — Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means — were scheduled to start reviewing executive branch budgets.
Ways and Means was to begin, as is traditional, with a review of the budgets within the governor’s office, followed by that of the lieutenant governor.
Senate Finance will begin with examinations of the Secretary of State’s budgets and that of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Those two committees will begin reviewing budgets in joint subcommittees Wednesday. Meeting jointly has been the procedure for the past several sessions to reduce conflicts in final spending proposals between the two houses.
In addition, the Senate and Assembly Judiciary committees are planning to begin reviewing bills as are the Assembly Government Affairs and Senate Education committees.
By week’s end, all 20 committees will have full agendas of bill hearings posted and, with more than 200 pre-filed bills in the hopper — 102 in each house — they already have plenty of work cut out for them.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed adding $1.1 billion in new and extended taxes over the next two years and applying most of the money to K-12 education during his State of the State address.
The plan calls for an increase in the state’s business licensing fee and extending taxes that were first proposed as “sunset” taxes.
Fiore along with other fiscal conservatives say they have enough votes to block Sandoval’s budget, which requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass.
Sandoval budgeted the increases to fund pre-kindergarten through high school education by $782 million during the biennium. The money would expand full-day kindergarten to every school in the state along with funding programs for gifted and talented students and other programs.
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