Saturday, May 25, 2013

SB 229 Secures Final Passage, Will Repeal "Trash Tahoe Bill"

This week has truly been a wild one in Carson City. We've seen plenty of action as the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature comes to a close. And yes, we even saw major progress on saving Lake Tahoe.

The Assembly voted 40-1 to pass SB229 which repeals a law passed by the 2011 Legislature that paved the way for Nevada to exit the Tahoe Compact created in the late 1960s to regulate development and oversee environmental controls in the Tahoe Basin that straddles Nevada and California. The Senate passed the measure in April.

"We have found new ways to cooperate, and SB229's repeal of the timetable of withdraw sends a strong message that Nevada supports working together with California to protect the lake," Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, said while urging his colleagues' support on the floor. [...]

Bobzien urged lawmakers to support a plan to withdraw Nevada's threat to leave the Tahoe Compact with California. The Assembly approved the measure 40-1. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

The bill was ushered through the Legislature after Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and California Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced an agreement to protect Lake Tahoe's delicate ecosystem while also considering the economy when making land use decisions.

"Tahoe is a natural beauty we have to be proud of in our state and I'm glad everybody could come together to work together," said Nevada Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas. "I'm glad that Tahoe will stay blue and we have good compromise, and I'm glad the governors worked together as well."

"The timetable for withdrawal from the compact was just always a problem," Bobzien said. "The forum for cooperating has always been the compact, so if you make the statement that the compact should be dissolved, how do you expect people to cooperate."

This has been a long time coming. In 2011, the Legislature voted for SB 271. And in turn, that launched a protracted war with California as environmental advocates on both sides of the state line were horrified by this brazen attempt to dismantle safeguards meant to preserve Tahoe.

So this session, SB 229 was introduced to repeal the 76th session's SB 271 and preserve regulatory safeguards for Lake Tahoe. Yet even as SB 229 passed the State Senate last month, its future remained uncertain as Governor Brian Sandoval (R) made veto threats. After all, since corporate developers pushed Tahoe to the brink, they seemed hungry for more.

But then, we saw a surprising twist of fate. Earlier this month, Governor Sandoval announced an agreement with California Governor Jerry Brown (D) to pass SB 229/repeal SB 271. Apparently, California's threats of unilateral regulation and the continuing law suit against the recent revisions to Lake Tahoe's master plan proved to be too much for Governor Sandoval to ignore.

And now, we have overwhelming Assembly passage of SB 229. And under the agreement secured from California Governor Brown, Nevada Governor Sandoval has reversed his stance and promised to sign it into law. While many questions remain over the future of oversight and over-development at Lake Tahoe, at least the lake's advocates can celebrate the end to the all out assault on the entire regulatory framework meant to save Tahoe.

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