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August 1, 2014

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Bill would increase Legislature’s oversight powers to ensure laws being followed in off-season

CARSON CITY – The Legislature needs increased power to oversee state agencies and local governments during the off-session, a Senate Committee was told Tuesday.

But local governments disagreed, voicing their opposition to a bill by Assemblyman Skip Daly, D-Sparks, that would create an oversight committee.

Daly said the Legislature needs to ensure the agencies and local governments are following the intent of the laws passed. Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, echoed Daly’s remarks, saying good laws get ignored by state agencies.

Assembly Bill 150 would create a Legislative Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability to determine if state agencies and local governments are following the will of the Legislature.

Manendo said the laws are sometimes totality ignored by agencies who fail to pass regulations to put them into effect. He called this bill “a type of hammer” over the agencies.

Yolanda King, director of budget and financial planning for Clark County, said there already is oversight of local governments. The Clark County Commission meets twice a month and hears from the public. And there are audits to see that the county is complying with state laws.

Wes Henderson, executive director of the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities, and Steve Walker, lobbyist for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, also noted that there was sufficient oversight of local governments.

Sen. James Settlemeyer, R-Minden, said he was worried this “could turn into a fishing expedition” on the part of this proposed new committee. And he didn’t like the bill extending the oversight to local governments.

“We need to go back and investigate” whether the agencies are following the intent of the approved laws, Daly said.

The Legislature already has the power to require agencies to report their progress, and there are interim committees that help oversee specific issues.

In addition, any regulation adopted by a state agency to comply with the law must be approved by the Legislative Commission.

In other news, the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections also heard a bill aimed at having annual sessions of the Legislature instead of meeting every two years.

Senate Committee Resolution 8, pushed by Sen. Tick Segerblom on Tuesday, would set up an interim committee of the Legislature and the general public to look into such things as annual sessions and the pay of lawmakers.

It would study the “timing, frequency and length of regular legislative sessions,” now limited to 120 days, and the “efficiency and effectiveness of annual regular legislative sessions.”

Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, has already sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to have annual sessions, raise the pay of lawmakers and allow the Legislature to meet in Las Vegas. That passed the Senate and is before the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee.

The Senate committee Tuesday did not take any action on the measures.

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