Notes on a Legislature -- Week 5

It’s not quite the Seinfeld Session yet. But they are trying.

Lots of hearings about Democratic values or agendas or blueprints or MOST IMPORTANT BILLS EVER. Lots of attempts by Republicans to say, in an almost Seussian cadence, “We matter, too! Really, we do!”

I hear veteran lobbyists shaking their heads about how little is going on. Is it different? Yes, they, say, NOTHING is going on.

This is my 15th, and it sure seems that way. But, beyond the great explanatory journalism and low-profile but important issues my amazing team (point of personal editor’s pride) is covering, I sense ripples developing on the otherwise still waters.

Maybe there’s nothing submerged and coming to the surface. Maybe it’s just the wind. But I feel something substantive this way comes. Or at least something interesting (beyond Aaron Ford and Michael Roberson exchanging more than texts or hand gestures).

Some thoughts:

---I hear rumblings from lobbyists who range from lamenting “this will be the most anti-business session ever” to hopeful ones wondering if “this could be the most anti-business session ever.” Is this the revenge of the trial lawyers (if only Robert Eglet had a friend in the building) and unions and taxi companies?

----Speaking of the cabs, this is an Uber-good bill for them. And what more is there to come? Will their 2015 champion, state Sen. Mark Manendo, who, coincidentally, may run for the Clark County Commission, run some bills for the taxis?

----Some bills just flabbergast me. As Roberson runs so far to the right that he will make Don Gustavson look like Bernie Sanders, decrying sanctuary states and criminal coddling, the leadership bills to restore ex-felon rights seem like no-brainers to me. Why in the world should anyone who has paid his or her debt by serving time be denied the right to vote? Is this really about Republicans thinking most of these folks will be Democrats? It can’t be that shallow, right? I hope not, and I know there are some principled arguments and foes. I have to believe there is a way to get Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has law and order bonafides but was a compassionate conservative before it was cool, to sign something here.

----I acknowledge the personal connection here, but I was very happy to see Assemblyman Nelson Araujo’s two bills dealing with LGBT rights pass the Assembly this week. One would mandate foster parents get training about transgender kids and the other would put same-sex marriage in the Constitution. Both make a lot of sense, even if you don’t know much about LGBTQ issues. Alas, Araujo did not have a perfect week, though, as he introduced this silliness, too. What a misguided endeavor, one the Founding Fathers would have hated. But two out of three ain’t bad.

----I have noted that Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson is holding weekly media availabilities, which is very smart. Anderson, who ran the lower house last session, developed a reputation as a man of his word and someone who would make a deal. Anderson and Speaker Jason Frierson are both low-key workhorses, and the former will be a much bigger player in the endgame than anyone realizes. If Frierson can get Anderson signed on to compromises on a variety of issues, Senate Republicans are more likely to agree, despite what Roberson The Right says. And Sandoval will be much more likely to holster his veto pen.

----Finally, we were reminded this week that what happens in DC doesn’t stay in DC as chatter about the ACA repeal induced Rep. Mark Amodei to suggest (again) a special session could occur, especially if Medicaid funding is stripped or altered. Gov. Brian Sandoval would never allow his legacy to be hundreds of thousands of Nevadans losing their health care, and Sen. Dean Heller is now indicating he agrees, even though his spokesman was not quite that explicit in statements given to the RJ’s Steve Sebelius and The Huffington Post. But with the Sessions Pot Posse perhaps riding into the state, too, thus destroying the budget, I am glad the weather in Carson City is starting to turn and reminding me how beautiful it is in the capital come July.

That would be no Seinfeld Special; it would at least be a Session of Something.