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July 28, 2014

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Assembly passes resolution to institute annual legislative sessions

AJR5 won the support of all the Assembly Democrats as well as three Las Vegas Republicans - Dennis Nolan, Jack Close and Merle Berman. Every other Assembly Republican voted against the measure Friday, bringing the final tally to 28-14.

AJR5 would establish 120-day legislative sessions in odd-numbered years and 45-day sessions in even-numbered years. The 120-day sessions would be used to formulate the budget, while the shorter sessions would be used to make any amendments or changes to the budget.

Because it requires an amendment to the Nevada Constitution, AJR5 must pass this Legislature and the 1999 Legislature and then go on a state ballot before taking effect.

"I really believe that the people of Nevada would like us to be here less time, not more," said Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, who argued that the bill was just an excuse for longer sessions.

But Close pointed out that the 1995 session lasted 169 days - the same time proposed in AJR5. Close also argued that some people can't currently serve in the Legislature because they can't take 169 days off work at a time.

"This session could have ended June 1," Close said. "If we have 120 days, we'll get it done in 120 days."

Assemblyman Bob Price, D-North Las Vegas, who has pushed for annual sessions for more than a decade, said people in other states wonder how Nevada continues to operate with a biennial Legislature.

"Nevada is a state that has full-time needs, full-time problems and a part-time Legislature," Price said.

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