Las Vegas Sun

September 30, 2014

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CARSON CITY:

Court fast-tracks ethics complaint resolution

The Nevada Supreme Court has agreed to accelerate the resolution of a dispute between state Sen. Warren Hardy and the Nevada Ethics Commission.

Richard Miller of Henderson filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission against Hardy, alleging he had conflicts of interest in voting on bills involving contractors during the 2005 and 2007 legislatures. Hardy, a Las Vegas Republican, is president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Southern Nevada.

Hardy filed a lawsuit to stop the Ethics Commission from hearing the complaint. Then-District Judge Bill Maddox ruled that the commission did not have authority over members of the Legislature because of the separation of powers doctrine.

The Ethics Commission appealed Maddox’s decision to the Supreme Court.

Hardy has asked the court to decide the case “as expeditiously as possible” because the Legislature is in session.

Hardy wants the court to “remove any doubt and uncertainty” that lawmakers are immune from disciplinary actions administered by an agency in the executive branch. The Legislature has its own rules to punish members for improper conduct, he noted.

The Supreme Court ordered that the filing of briefs be expedited and that the full court, and not a panel, decide the issue.

The court has ordered the Ethics Commission counsel to file an opening brief by Feb. 23. Hardy, who is represented by attorneys of the Legislature, must submit the answering brief by March 9 and the commission must file its final brief by March 16.

•••

A Sun story last week reporting that the Legislature won’t vote on a bill to legalize prostitution in Las Vegas jarred loose some memories.

Bob Stewart, who was Gov. Mike O’Callaghan’s press secretary and administrative assistant during the 1970s, recalled an interview the governor granted to CBS’s Mike Wallace.

The conversation turned to prostitution, Stewart recalled in an e-mail.

“Wallace said something to the effect of ‘Here’s a business transaction taking place, a purchase, and the state isn’t getting any part of the action. Why is that?’ ”

Stewart, who lives in Carson City, said that although he doesn’t remember the exact wording of Wallace’s question, he will always remember O’Callaghan’s reply: “He turned his head to look directly at the camera, and said ‘We don’t need whore money in Nevada.’ ”

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley — whose opposition to the bill that would have allowed up to three brothel licenses in Las Vegas spelled its death — was direct in her opposition as well.

“I do not support legalizing prostitution,” she said when asked why the bill would not be heard.

•••

Sen. Bob Coffin has tried for 20 years to require public school students to wear uniforms.

This session, he’s trying one last time.

Senate Bill 135, as drafted, would require public school students in kindergarten through third grade to wear uniforms. Coffin said the bill will be amended to require uniforms in all grades.

The Las Vegas Democrat said he has 200 signatures from members of the Valley High School community in support of requiring uniforms.

“Lots of parents want this,” he said. It “would be a lot cheaper” for them.

He acknowledged receiving one complaint from a mother who wanted to continue sending her daughter to school dressed in “fuchsia and pink.”

From the floor of the Senate, Coffin asked whether any fellow senators wanted to co-sponsor the proposal. No one raised a hand.

“Nobody wants to jump in without reading the bill,” Coffin said.

The bill was referred to the Senate Health and Education Committee.

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