Friday, March 29, 2013

The Biggest #NVLeg Story You Haven't (Yet) Seen

I know this week has been chock full of hot Nevada Legislature stories. One in particular continues to grab headlines. However, there's one major story that saw an exciting development on Tuesday... Yet hasn't received much attention.

Let's change that.

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Remember when we discussed this session's flurry of ethics & campaign finance reform related bills? One of the bills we looked at was Senator Justin Jones' (D-Enterprise) SB 203, which requires lobbyists to file quarterly activity reports.

I just happened to be on the Senate floor when SB 203 was being considered there. Senator Jones rose to speak on his bill. And there was some banter going back and forth among other Senators on the matter. And I was wondering how this would turn out. After all, ethics and campaign finance bills don't always have an easy ride in Carson City.

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However, this time was different. I was stunned as the vote was called. At first, the vote looked like it was going to be painfully close. But then, this happened.

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It was unanimous! How often does the Nevada Senate unanimously agree on anything? And this happened for a bill that requires lobbyists to file quarterly reports?

I know, I know, this is just a small niche of policy. Perhaps others just consider this a "baby step". But when considering how difficult it had been to pass any kind of reform in past sessions, what happened in the Senate on Tuesday may truly be huge news.

We've seen this constantly in Carson City. Corporate lobbyists run around the Legislature Building and privately cut their deals with lawmakers. So much has been so secretive. Yet this week, the Nevada Legislature made a major move in curbing this by calling for more transparency in lobbying activities.

Of course, there's still more to do. SB 203 must now go to the Assembly for approval. The fate of the other ethics & campaign finance bills is still unknown. And signs of scandal continue to loom over Carson City.

But at least on Tuesday, signs of hope emerged. Perhaps this time, the Legislature can take steps to end the rampant culture of corruption. It would be nice to see a happy ending to this kind of story for a change.

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