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October 23, 2014

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State Sen. Hardy resigning to cut costs at day job

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Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas

State Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, is resigning his seat today.

This ends back-and-forth speculation in Nevada political circles about whether Hardy would seek re-election in 2010.

Hardy, who is also president of the Associated Builders and Contractors, said he needed to cut costs at the trade association by ending lobbying and consulting contracts and doing the work himself.

That made serving as a state senator at the same time untenable. Hardy's day job has always created controversy because of the trade association's lobbying efforts in support of nonunion construction firms.

He was dealt with an ethics complaint for mixing his roles as trade association president and senator during the 2007 session, but was cleared in a landmark state Supreme Court ruling this year that said the ethics commission, as an executive branch agency, does not have the power to regulate the legislative branch.

During the session that just ended, Hardy frequently disclosed and abstained from voting on issues that would affect his trade group or its members. Hardy became a leader in his caucus this year, negotiating for much of the session on key budget issues. He and four other moderate Republicans in the state Senate joined Democrats in rejecting the budget of Gov. Jim Gibbons, the first-term Republican.

They added significant spending to Gibbons' budget, which would have cut higher education 36 percent and state worker and teacher salaries 6 percent.

Instead, they cut higher education 12.5 percent and state worker pay 4.6 percent, while adding $1 billion in taxes in the form of payroll, sales and hotel room levies.

Grass-roots Republicans have sharply criticized Senate Republicans for voting for higher taxes. Hardy said that had no impact on his decision.

"I've got to try to make ends meet," he said of his decision. Hardy was first elected to the Assembly when he was still in his 20s in 1990. He was later elected to the state Senate in 2002.

"It was the honor of my life, and an experience I'll never forget," he said.

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