End of Days blog

This will be an ever-updating post about the end of the 77th session of the Legislature: 

8:30 AM, Tuesday -- By now you know, after spending time making Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki into Winston Churchill and state Sen. Barbara Cegavske into Margaret Thatcher, the state Senate somehow could not find the time to do the business of the state in the constitutionally mandated 120 days and both houses are now in special session. I don't know whay I am surprised -- I have been telling you for months that four rookie leaders will have trouble closing the session. And trouble they had, with the final seconds being counted down and the place looking like Romper Room and not the hallowed halls of government.

I am too exhausted to be fully disgusted -- I'll get to that later. But after a session of failed promises, this seems somehow fitting: A special session to divert Teach for America money to higher ed, to pass the More Cops initiative and an economic development bill. "Governor calls special session to raise taxes." Yes, indeed.

By the way, the headline on the print edition of the Reno Gazette-Journal: "A calm end to session" Not so much.

I am on a plane, headed to Vegas for a Supreme Court hearing on freedom of the press. Much more important. It is about an attempt to smear  Dana Gentry.

More later. If I am awake.

8:45 PM, Monday -- The big energy bill just passed. Here is the vote.


Winding down now. Bills going through. They can leave anytime they want. No need to go to 11:59:59, right?


5 PM, Monday: Could vetoing background checks really hurt Gov. Brian Sandoval? The pro-gun control folks want him to think so and Americans For Responsible Solutions (that's the Giffords group) commissioned a poll from Democratic veteran Stan Greenberg of 600 registered voters that was conducted May 29-June 2, 2013.

In a cover memo (it's attached here) I've obtained, it says, in part:

This issue carries some electoral bite as well. Sandoval is one of the more popular Governors in the country. Nonetheless, a 39 percent plurality, including 34 percent of independent voters, describe themselves as less likely to support him if he vetoes this legislation. Just 22 percent are more likely.

Despite the continuous citing of the 86 percent figure from a Doug Schoen poll ("Do you favor or oppose requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter whom they buy it from?") taken in February, the survey found a lesser number back the bill that is headed to Gov. Brian Sandoval

An unambiguous 72 percent support Senate Bill 221 requiring background checks on most private sales and transfers of guns, including those sold on the Internet and at gun shows. This majority includes 85 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans, as well as 76 percent of gun owners and even 55 percent of NRA households. Intensity clearly stands on one side, as 48 percent strongly support this legislation and just 16 percent strongly oppose. 

Anyone scared yet? Or feel threatened?

3 PM, Monday: The gun bill passed a short time ago, 23-19, facing a certain veto by the governor. Besides Richard Carrillo risibly saying he felt threatened (oh, boo hoo!) and Michele Fiore making familiar apocalyptic pronouncements, it was as close as anticipated. Skip Daly, Mike Sprinkle and James Ohrenschall joined Carrillo in opposing the measure. GOP Assemblyman Jim Wheeler lamented the out-of-state forces (Bloomberg group), but neglected to mention the NRA lobbyist here is from California.

And just like that, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has a new ad to pressure the governor, who is getting cover from a less-expensive robocalling gun lobby campaign:


12:30 PM, Monday: The intense lobbying on the gun bill paid off a short time ago when the background checks measure, SB 221, got out of Assembly Judiciary with Olivia Diaz, who had been waffling, voting yes to get it to the floor. It will now likely pass the Assembly and be vetoed by the governor. And then we will see what Mayors Against Illegal Guns does in 2014.

Here's an interesting, generally overlooked issue about this bill dealing with mining taxes that passed last night. After it passed the Senate, I had this exchange with sponsor Tick Segerblom on Twitter:





So does it raise taxes?

The argument, adopted by LCB to ensure that the bill did not need two-thirds, is that even though it is a new excise tax, it replaces the current net proceeds on mines and makes it clear, for legal purposes to blunt a post-SJR 15 industry argument, that it is not a property tax, which would be capped in the Constitution.

But in the measure, a new tax is created, which might argue that it needs two-thirds. And if you don't buy the mining argument that SJR 15 blows a hole in the budget by causing a tax decrease, doesn't this add money to the budget?

No, say advocates (not Segerblom, apparently!) because all this does is change the definition of the tax being extracted from the industry.

Interesting legal issue and a pretty complex bill. I'm sure the governor buys that it is not a tax increase and will happily sign it....

What's left? Final passage of the big NV Energy bill, with advocates hoping to get as many Republicans as possible to support the measure that most or all Democrats will support. That should happen tonight. Over/under set at 30.

11 AM, Monday: Medical marijuana passes the Assembly with exactly two-thirds -- 28-14 -- with ailing Peggy Pierce there to cast deciding vote. It originally passed but the tally board erroneously said it had failed, so both William Horne and Maggie Carlton quickly changed their votes to be on the prevailing side to ask for reconsideration. Conspiracy theories ensued, Tick Segerblom had a near-heart attack, but all was quickly fixed.

Then, as if to make a comedy show worse, the Assembly then broke the constitutional mandate to pass education first (thanks, Dawn and Jim Gibbons!) by passing the authorization bill first. That, too, had to be rescinded before the Assembly took a break for a few hours. It appears the members need it.

The state Senate has passed the sunrise on the expiring sunsets, allowing those taxes ($633 million worth) to continue. What kills me about this -- still, after all these years -- is that three Republicans who voted for the budget then voted against money to fund it. How do Barbara Cegavske, James Settelmeyer and Don Gustavson justify that intellectual disohnesty? I guess they don't have to as they brag to their constituents that they support education. Sickening.

And speaking of intellectual dishonesty, the speeches to pass Washoe schools bill in the Senate were something else. This has gone from a mandate to enabling purely because of Gov. Brian Sandoval's tax pledge and legislative timorousness. Either the schools need more money or they don't. I love hearing about how this is a "local problem," too. As if they don't deal with "local problems" when they fund education every session. Instead, they are voting to enable a GOP-dominated board to raise taxes and imposing a supermajority requirement. Since when does a County Commission get charged with school responsibilites? How do they say this stuff with straight faces? It passed, 16-4.

9:30 AM, Monday -- Everyone seems to be in quite the sunny mood. No Sandoval pills, just we're-getting-outta-here highs. Or maybe Tick passed some stuff around this AM from the new medical marijuana dispensary he is starting with GOP Chairman Michael McDonald. A bipartisan effort.

I asked Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick if it's possible to get done by 11:59:59 and she said, " Depends if we are just wasting time," a reference to state Sen. Greg Brower's shot at her on the admissions tax hearing. Would she hold the session up to get revenge over his snipe? Say it ain't so.

I also asked Assembly Judicary Chairman Jason Frierson if the background checks are dead and he told me, "I honestly don't know." He said members are being inundated with calls and emails. Keep hope alive?

And they just played loud country music in the Assembly. There goes my ebullient mood.....


9:30 PM -- The process is moving forward as budget/education funding bills are flying through the houses. Hearings are continuing after a tense joint tax meeting in which Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick's revamped admissions tax bill hearing was trashed by Republican Greg Brower as "a waste of time" because it is going nowhere. See my live-Tweets for details.

You can sense the tension/frustration growing after Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis followed Kirkpatrick and presented the tax study plan highlighted below that he said is not a tax study but an "examination." That later produced a great, memorable line from the Queen of Hats and Tax Knowledge, Carole Vilardo, who came to the table and declared: "This state needs another tax study like I need another hat." Indeed.

The Democrats have a hard time selling the need for s study of the tax system, not just because so many have been done and reached the same conclusion (broaden the base) but because they said as much months ago when they promised THIS SESSION WILL BE DIFFERENT. It wasn't. Nor would this study produced anything new.

There are only mechanical issues to hold things up now -- indeed, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson suggested letting many bills just expire where they sit and advocated sine dieing tonight. That won't happen, and I fear some kind of problem to gum up the works (there always is one).

But there is no good reason for the Gang of 63 not to adjourn for good by 11:59:59 on Monday evening.

(On the gun bill front, there are plans to lessen the penalties to get more votes, but that, too, would need an amendment and would require Joyce Woodhouse to return. Or maybe a Republican senator will change his or her vote because of Bloomberg fear. Yes, that might happen.)


6 PM, Sunday: Oh, for the love of God -- we have gone from this session will be different on taxes, that something will be done, to....THIS:


NV Senate Majority Leader Denis Introduces “Select Committee on Nevada Commerce Tax” Legislation


Carson City- This afternoon, Nevada Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, which will create an interim working group that is tasked with developing a broad-based and stable revenue structure for Nevada’s educational system.  On Tuesday, June 4th, Senator Denis will also introduce one of the first Bill Draft Requests (BDR) for the 2015 Legislative Session, which will implement a new, broad-based revenue stream for Nevada based on the results of the Select Committee’s discussions. Senator Denis released the following statement:


“Throughout the session, we were unable to reach a consensus on what type of long term, stable tax structure, is needed in order to adjust to the changing economy.  This Commission is not a study, rather an open and transparent means of engaging business groups, teachers, parents and labor as we create a revenue structure that adequately funds our budget, in particular our schools.”

Like the Chicago Cubs fan crying out, "Wait until next year," the Democrats cry, "Wait until next session." And then Lucy will do what she always does to Charlie Brown....


4:45, PM, Sunday -- Intrigue on the gun bill. It appears that three or four Democrats (Carillo, Ohrenschall and Diaz?) on the Assembly Judicary Committee are opposed to Justin Jones' gun bill and may be irretrievable. Democrats could afford to lose two but not three -- they have a 9-4 advantage. The only other option is to amend the bill into another on the floor -- a classic end-of-session maneuver. I asked Majority Leader William Horne about that possibility as he was walking onto the floor and he gave me quite the knowing smile. It surely would pass on the floor.

But here's the problem: The bill would then have to go back to the state Senate, where it passed 11-10. And with Joyce Woodhouse still tending to her dying husband, the measure would fail. This could be quite dramatic -- would Woodhouse come back for that?

Imagine how the Bloomberg-haters would react if the bill doesn't even get sent to the governor for a veto? Imagine how Mayors Against Illegal Guns will feel after spending all that time and money? Maybe they will find primary candidates in 2014....

(At right: Bill advocates talk in front of the building:  Griffin Bros., Billy Vassiliaidis and Jones talk a few minutes ago.)

2:30 -- After a relatively brief hearing -- check my twitter feed for details -- Ira Hansen's attempt to change the big NV Energy bill fizzled amid tepid PUC/BCP testimony and little committee support. Four other Republicans voted with him against the bill -- Hardy, Grady, Livermore and Ellison. Two of those -- Ellison and Livermore -- said they reserve the right to change their votes on the floor. What are they waiting for? A call from Warren Buffett? An NV Energy-sponsored fundraiser scheduled for the fall?

Bottom line: Nevada Manufacturers Association lobbyist Ray Bacon told me after the brief hearing: "Well, at least we tried." Indeed. But how many votes did it change? Zero.

This is done. Only question is how many GOP votes the measure gets on the floor later.....

12: 30, Sunday -- Assemblyman Ira Hansen is going all-out to amend the big energy bill -- sound and fury but can he get more than nothing? He is passing out a memo, attached here, that begins:

How many lobbyists do the 2 million+ ratepayers for NV Energy have?    NONE


How many lobbyists does the now-owned-by Warren Buffett-NV Energy have?    YOU KNOW THAT ANSWER


On SB 123, we have been told the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the protector of the ratepayer, has been heavily involved.  This is false, and the PUC has in fact been almost left out of the significant decision-making.  To prove this point, I requested a date-and-timeline of the meetings that the PUC was involved in.

Here's what I think is funny about that first question? Aren't the ratepayers supposed to have 64 very powerful lobbyists up here -- the governor and the Gang of 63? And clearly most have been perusaded/cajoled/spun that this is a good idea, right?

Hansen also is passing out a timeline of meetings provided by the PUC and more -- attached here. You may recall the amendment is attached here, too.

It's Hansen, the Nevada Manufacturers Association and some small/indie-power users vs. the world at this point. This is Harry's Bill and Brian has endorsed it, so....


11:15, Sunday: I will have premium content posted on this site early this afternoon, but I wanted to share 10 great, one-sentence summations of Session '13 from a group of lobbyists I have been polling weekly. Prepare to wince and/or laugh:

The blind leading the deaf.


Never have so many done so little for so few.


A session that could have been scripted by Lewis Carroll.


It's great to be NV Energy & Gaming.


A session starts with much excitement & optimism as new leadership will do things a new way, but quickly fizzles into same old.

The session of Civil Wars...while the Rs and Ds are working much better with each other than previously, all of the big fights have intra-party, from the mining tax with the Senate Republicans to the Planned Parenthood bill between the Senate and Assembly Ds.


Term limits were a bad idea.


Governor prevails over inexperienced Legislature.


With a few exceptions (Gaming and NV Energy) its almost like a 120 day Seinfeld episode, a show about close to nothing.

"... Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

The Nevada Legislature is a 120-day long commercial for R&R Partners. 


9 AM, Sunday: Big day today as lawmakers try to move all the big stuff, inlcuding the energy quartet of bills, inlcuding SB 123. Something dramatic will happen. Something strange will happen. Something emotional will happen. How do I know? Experience is a great teacher.

Stuff that caught my eye in the local newspapers:

Gov. Brian Sandoval veto total at 3. Last session: 36. Record: 48, by Jim Gibbons in '09. 

The "newspaper's" editorial page overseer just can't believe illegal immigrants won in the 2013 Legislature. Really?

After ignoring the Legislature for more than three months, Las Vegas Sun "boss" writes his third column, unleavened by specifics and numbers, blasting Southern Nevada lawmakers. Meanwhile, the Sun's Andrew Doughman approaches the same issue with something called facts.

And Sun political editor Anjeanette Damon, in a companion you-have-to-click-many-times-to-read-it-all piece, actually finds a bunch of interesting moments from Session '13.

Finally this AM, if you have not seen this priceless sendup by other lobbyists of John Griffin's pose for the New York Times story linked below, it is hilarious.


5:45 PM, Saturday: GOP Assemblyman Ira Hansen, who expressed concerns in committee about the PUC's lack of involvement in regulating NV Energy in the post-NVision era, has met with the regulatory staff and prepared an amendment he plans to introduce Sunday. I have posted it here -- lots of strike-throughs. I don't think it has much chance, but it could be noisy.

One noticeable change is forcing NV Energy to come back to the PUC to get carrying charges approved. 

4:30 PM, Saturday: Kelvin Atkinson emphasized the commitments for sponsorships of the CSG-West conference were made long before session. Of course. Nevertheless, some might think it looks unseemly for lawmakers to solicit sponsorships -- or just accept them -- from folks who want their vote later. Then again, they do need to pay for the conference, right?

By the way, on another topic, in case you haven't seen lobbyist John Griffin acknowledge what few lobbyists do -- he took on the Mayors Against Illegal Guns account because Mike Bloomberg has "unmatchable resources" -- this New York Times piece highlights Griffin's sartorial splendor and drinking habits (I've seen the whiskey collection, although never, alas, partaken). My favorite quote: “I don’t think we’ve ever used the word Bloomberg,” Mr. Griffin said. Personal note: After I used "Bloomberg's group" in a post on the effort, I received an email from a MAIG flack who informed me other mayors were involved, too. I kid you not. (Actual line to correct me: "MAIG is a Mayors Group or Coalition (rather than a Bloomberg Group) of more than 950 bi-partisan mayors."

There are some great quotes from other lawmakers in the piece, as well as this one from a Bloomberg aide: "We’re here for the long haul.” As in, regarding Nevada, Campaign 2014. Good news for Democrats and....TV stations.

By the way, one part of the NYT story is flat-out wrong. R&R's Billy Vassiliadis is not out of this at all, as the story says. Quite the contrary. He has been helping Justin Jones get Assembly support and lobbying very hard on the bill -- ask lawmakers -- and for free.

3:30 PM, Saturday: Comedy interlude -- one guess as to who is the "Diamond Sponsor" is of the Council of State Governments meeting next month in Las Vegas and hosted by CSG-West Chair Kelvin Atkinson. Yes, the Senate Commerce Committee boss has somehow -- I have NO idea how -- wrangled a sponsorship from NV Energy, whose megabill went through the commerice chairman's committee. Oh, and the even-bigger platinum sponsor: MGM Resorts, whose Mirage will be the venue for some conference activity. Also sponsoring at lesser levels: Various legislative special interest supplicants and lobbyists. The announcement is posted here.

3 PM, Saturday:

The big comp meals deal was just heard in a joint tax hearing. It barely lasted 15 minutes. No significant questions. Done deal. Gaming lobbyist Pete Ernaut, showing spectacular self-discipline, kept a straight face while saying the industry is "relatively unhappy" with the deal. This is an agreement that uses the threat of lawsuits for refunds, which could have blown a gigantic hole in the state budget, to escape future taxation on comp meals. So the industry probably is relatively unhappy in that it could not get this retroactively applied to 1931....

Also, there have been several instances in the past in which the lieutenant governor has been tasked with a  "casting" vote. I have attached the Kevin Powers memo from 2006 here -- it later resulted in a 2007 opinion. Bottom line: He can, if there is any tomfoolery by the GOP.

12:30 PM, Saturday -- Latest on the 10-10 Senate. LCB boss Rick Combs pointed out to Sun Political Editor Anjeanette Damon that Article 5, Section 17 of the Constitution outlines the lieutenant governor's duties: "He shall be President of the Senate, but shall only have a casting vote therein." So that would seem to conflict with the Senate rules that he can only vote on procedural matters. Guess which document wins that battle?

It's still hard to believe that becomes relevant, and I still believe if Joyce Woodhouse is needed, she will return. (There are rumblings her husband has improved, but he is still terminally ill.) And there are only a handful of bills this could affect, but the lack of trust between the leadership folks is a real problem.

I have said this already: This is a time when the human element becomes all too apparent up here and conflicts with the political animals' instincts to act politically. But GOP leaders appear to have reassured Democratic leaders there will be, as caucus boss Jodi Stephens put it, "no tomfoolery." It is truly sad -- and all too reality-inducing -- that two members are not here because of cancer -- Assemblywoman Peggy Piece (she does want to come to vote on some bills) has been absent a lot because of her recurrence, and now Woodhouse because of her husband's.

In other news, the four energy bills -- SB 123, SB 252, AB 239, AB 428 -- will all move as a package (or not) on Sunday. Assemblyman Ira Hansen has raised issues about the PUC regulation in SB 123, but I don't think all of his caucus members will go with him. NV Energy has most or all of the Democrats on the big bill.

Also, I am a sucker for a "Lost in Space" reference as this email alert went out from a doc who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate -- Annette Teijeiro -- opposed to labor/gaming's attempt to get emergency rates capped in the Constitution so Democrats can have something/anything to run on in 2014:


Now is the most dangerous time in the legislative session.

Much mischief happens this last weekend.


One joint resolution has a strong chance of passing setting the payment for emergency room charges in the hands of the Nevada Legislature.  It was introduced May 21, 2013 and is under the radar.  Can you say, DANGER WILL ROBINSON!  Today it is the hospitals; tomorrow it will be other businesses.  Do we want the state government setting payments for whatever they define as a right?  Emergency plumbing services, emergency air conditioning repair, emergency housing, emergency legal defense, you name it and they will put it into the mix.  AJR9 does not need the governor’s signature but anyone who knows the following legislators or live in their districts must contact them immediately. 

Can you say it? Can you?
(The other item affects nurse practitioners, but is not as interesting as the AJR 9 panic.)


10 AM, Saturday -- News, first broken on Twitter by Anjeanette Damon, that Democratic state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse has left the capital because her husband is gravely ill has caused uncertainty in the building. Will the Democrats be able to hold onto control of an 11-10 house by shaming the GOP into not taking advantage of a colleague's personal tragedy? Or will the ruthless nature of politics take over, thus making Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki the deciding vote and giving the GOP control?

Krolicki could only vote on procedural matters. But Democrats would need one Republicans to get to a majority. Still need 11 votes.

Said Senate GOP leader Michael Roberson: "Business as usual. Joyce and her husband are in our thoughts and prayers."

As one Democratic insider told me: "Right now is just a wait and see. We will know more throughout the day.  At this point we haven't asked what her plans are, but knowing her she will come back if needed."

And as that news was breaking, end-of-session stress was showing in an Assembly Government Affairs hearing on the speaker's North Las Vegas bailout bill. Here's how one eyewitness described it:

Dina Neal was asking questions about specific swimming pools that would or wouldn’t be funded, and then said she needed to make some remarks to explain the tone she had.  Said she had heard that the City of NLV folks had said things about her and the questions she has been asking, and wondered if this was due to her race.  That she has just as much right to ask questions as anyone, “black, white, orange, grey…”

Very heated.  The chair said afterward that it’s the end of session, everyone is tired, so tensions are high… and then wisely recommended a five minute coffee break.

Like father, like daughter....


4:45 PM, Friday -- The new admissions tax is about to be introduced. The BDR is attached here.


8 percent

All the incendiary stuff is gone -- movies, gyms, golf.

Nightclubs in.

Outdoor concerts in -- Burning Man, EDC

Escort services


Baseball out

NASCAR out, only if get 2nd race here

Gov won't sign, I'd say.  AB1 next session?


3:25, Friday:


Ways and Means just voted to restore pay raise for state employees. But after Republicans leave room, per Anjeanette Damon, they return to support. But -- this is the key to seeing the fluid negotiations -- Minority Leader Pat Hickey gives a "conditional yes," as Chairwoman Maggie Carlton puts it. Republicans don't want to be locked in just yet. Plenty of time, and need to move the process forward.





2:45 PM, Friday:


The one set of bills needed to close the session is in jeopardy over $5 million. Well, not exactly. But follow me:

Sources tell me the budget negotiations between the parties are hung up on the Democrats’ refusal to pass Gov. Brian Sandoval’s so-called Opportunity Scholarship plan beloved by conservative reformers and abhorred by the left (a voucher by any other name….). To the Democrats, this is not about the money, but the principle.

But it’s more than that, too, from what I can tell:

The governor and the Senate GOP leadership, who have not been close on all things (hello, mining taxation), are now in sync on how to close the session. That is, leave the executive budget alone.

But Democrats, especially, want to give back money to state employees, but don’t want to take the money out of education, thus undermining their session’s purpose. (If they were to do so to help state employees, imagine how long it would take for the Republicans to, shamelessly, pounce. I understand that right now, they don't think that is necessary, that they can patch the budget together and keep education whole. But they have no money left over for anything else.)

See, this is the box you get yourself in when you don’t have a plan.

I hear the GOP has vowed not to pass the sunsets bill ($620 million) or the pay bill until these issues are resolved.

Of course, the pay bill, due out soon, can be passed with a majority vote -- no need for Republicans. Would the governor actually veto it to save his $5 million program, thus causing a special session? Would he veto the budget over that? Hard to imagine. 

Coincidentally, the governor’s proposed payroll tax cut and the money needed for state employees to get their pay restored is about the same amount of money -- $25 million or so. That, too, is in play. My guess is the governor gives up bragging about that (doesn’t he have enough?) to get his $5 million NPRI trinket. Thus, Democrats help state employees and keep education whole (they wouldn't have to take money from elsewhere to do so if they got the payroll tax cut excised).

Meanwhile, the speaker’s revised admissions tax is expected soon. And there is more and more of a feeling that it may not pass, even if it’s just a streamlined Live Entertainment Tax.

That would be something: The speaker’s major priority scuttled.

More later….