Notes on a Legislature -- Week Two

The second week began with much sound and fury, just as the first one did.

But while the torrent of bill introductions on Monday may have been more substantive and lasting than Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford’s opening day broadside directed at Minority Leader Michael Roberson, in the end that legislative flood may also signify nothing.

It might be too cynical to suggest that the Bard’s line is shorthand for every legislative session. (Or that many tales are biennially told in that building by idiots.) Yes, some sessions have had sound and fury that truly signified something – 2015 was the perfect example. But most? Not so much.

But considering the basic setup, this will not change: The Democratic leaders must find a balance between pleasing their constituent groups that helped them recapture the Legislature and accommodating Gov. Brian Sandoval, who can with the stroke of a pen stop anything they want to do.

That, of course, presupposes that neither Ford nor Speaker Jason Frierson could pick up enough GOP votes to override vetoes. And while I suppose that is possible in 16 weeks or so, it is hardly likely.

-----Frostbite warning: I sense no thaw in the Roberson-Ford relationship. Indeed, if they are standing in any proximity to each other, stay away lest you catch a chill. Neither is quite used to his new role yet – Boss Ford and Bomb-Thrower Roberson. Ford needs more time to adjust, I think, but Roberson is already where he wants to be.

----Our plan is better: The release this week of the Assembly Republican plan and the Democrats’ BLUEPRINT (all-caps necessary because it has been so LONG-AWAITED) was an exercise in pure political theater. The Republicans quietly released their plan, which would be better dubbed Going Nowhere Ideas than Battle Born Priorities. But the Democrats crowded into a room on the third floor of the Legislative Building and lined up behind Ford and Frierson, while some patient media folks and a bunch of Democratic operatives probably whispering about “great optics” looked on. This was pure virtue-signaling by both parties, full of…. well, you know.

----Can we talk? The most interesting moment came when Ford and Frierson were asked about a $15 minimum wage, which has been introduced in the Assembly. Neither would commit to supporting the measure, and when pressed, Frierson kept talking about “having a conversation.” Well, talk is about as cheap as $7.25 an hour, no? Granted, Frierson is like Sara Lee: Nobody doesn’t like him. But at some point, all of these conversations have to turn into….votes.

----Awkward: So state Sen. Patty Farley, who is now Independent Like Nevada (someone should use that slogan) introduced a bill this week that reprises her effort essentially to outlaw daily overtime. That is, you can get overtime for working 43 hours in a week, but not 10 hours in a day. Lots of noise around that last session. But what’s interesting is that now that Farley is caucusing with the Democrats, sitting right there in that room with her is state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, who spent a lot of time in 2015 as a union lobbyist trying to kill that measure and not let it be a poison pill to entomb the minimum wage. All for one and….

----Amendments needed: Perhaps state Sen. Becky Harris has been reading too many dystopian novels, but her bill this week to outlaw microchipping of humans seemed otherworldly, even for this place. So many thoughts come to mind: One, is this a solution in search of a problem? Two, if someone wants to microchip somebody, they already have a big enough problem that I doubt they will stop and say, “I wonder if this is legal.” And three, maybe we can amend the bill to exempt politicians because we at The Nevada Independent have been working on this cool new tracking technology….