June 15, 2009

NV legislature gets good marks for opening up state gov't

from Nevada Press Association executive director Barry Smith.

The good:

Passing AB496 which "gets rid of a law that said you couldn't tell anyone if you filed a complaint with the Judicial Discipline Commission against a judge."

Passing SB267 (discussed previously) which places workshops and public hearings under Nevada's open meeting laws.

The Legislature also kept government open by not passing SB32 which would of made personnel evaluations of city managers by city councils and county commissioners private. While we part ways on this, Smith also holds that the defeat of AB307 (also previously discussed) ultimately was good for open government.

The bad:

One was AB50, introduced by the State Contractors Board, which would have allowed the public to see complaints filed against contractors. It died in committee.

A second opportunity was a bill by Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, to make campaign finance reports more timely and easier to read. It was a good idea and, unfortunately, went nowhere.

The ugly:

The other chance for the Legislature was to hold more of its discussions of controversial tax plans in public. Although there were formal opportunities for debate and public comment, we know that much of the wheeling and dealing among legislators went on behind closed doors.

The public should be especially upset that legislative leaders chose to negotiate the biggest tax hike in Nevada's history behind closed doors. Whether you opposed the tax hike or thought it should have been larger, the discussion should have been public.