Notes on a Legislature -- Week 6

I could almost sense the calm before the….calm.

Six weeks down, and we are about to enter the phase of the session known as Bill Flood. And it’s still not that….exciting.

Many bills were introduced this week -- some are even substantive! – and with the introduction deadline Monday at midnight, lawmakers will earn every penny of their $146.29 daily salary.

The two Senate leaders – Aaron Ford and Michael Roberson – actually said more than three words to each other this week, but no beer summit yet. Two legislative bosses in the same house have such a frosty relationship that they can barely talk to each other? Unprecedented in recent history. This cannot end well, which also raises a key question: How are they going to close this session?

Thoughts on the week:

----A hearing on the so-called weighted funding formula was quite illuminating. It’s arguably the most far-reaching bill of the session, and it may affect the state’s sad educational system the most. It would cost $1.2 billion to fully implement and help the kids who need it most.  But that would require taxes, so it ain’t happening after The Big Increase of 2015. Democratic leaders hope to get one-sixth of it funded. But finding $200 million lying around in the budget isn’t so easy….

----Another major bill that appeared this week and could chew some scenery is a measure to create transparency in the pharmaceutical industry and do more, too, including price controls on some meds. This is right in freshman Sen. Yvanna Cancela’s wheelhouse, supported by her old employers at the Culinary Union and the Health Services Coalition, which also includes gamers. I expect national attention and Big Pharma pushback, which will be more fun than most battles this session.

----Cancela’s profile, which already has been raised by a law enforcement bill derided as a “Sanctuary State” measure by foes, is a case in point of how freshmen have not been on the sidelines this session. One old-schooler expressed surprise that so many rookies were not being more respectful of veterans, learning the ropes and not pursuing their own agendas. Indeed, Cancela is far from alone: Julia Ratti and Nicole Cannizzaro in the Senate already have made their presences known, and several of the Assembly frosh, including Steve Yeager and new Democratic Chairman William McCurdy, have made headlines. Or at least made a lot of tweets. It’s going to be interesting to watch how all of these newcomers react when leadership, inevitably, pulls on the reins.

----There are more rumblings this week that lobbyists and others are fretting this is going to be THE MOST ANTI-BUSINESS SESSION EVER OF ALL TIME IN HISTORY. These fears may turn out to be well-founded or…nonsense. Gov. Brian Sandoval will not sign measures that roll back what happened in 2015, but what will he let go through? As much as he admires Jeb Bush, I don’t see him becoming what the exclamation-pointed former presidential candidate did in Florida: Veto Corleone. Sandoval is a lover, not a fighter. Mostly. The question is: What are Ford and Speaker Jason Frierson? It’s way too early to tell.

----The week ended with a surreal hearing on state Sen. Tick Segerblom’s measure to change the name of the Las Vegas airport from “McCarran” to “Reid.” I say that because after the expected testimony from Democratic partisans, the parade of foes was like a who’s who of gadflies and nincompoops. My favorite was failed candidate and fake news purveyor Rob Lauer, now running a Newsmax website, who went off about Harry Reid and defended Pat McCarran. These opponents kept talking about “allegations” that McCarran was an anti-Semite, showing they have never read a book. Even if you defend McCarran’s legislative accomplishments, he was a nativist and anti-Semite who was Joe McCarthy before Joe McCarthy was Joe McCarthy. His name should not be on the airport, much less any building, so the only question is whether Reid’s should. The longtime senator also had great influence, but he was as polarizing figure as anybody in Nevada has been. I doubt we’ll have that debate, though, as the bill will likely be approved along partisan lines. But will Sandoval, who worked well with Reid on many issues, sign it?

That’s going to be fascinating to watch.