Bill changing police contract negotiating is vetoed

CARSON CITY -- Gov. Jim Gibbons on Tuesday vetoed five more bills, including one to make the Clark County sheriff or his designee the sole negotiator for contracts with the police officers union.

He completed signing or vetoing the bills approved by the 2009 Legislature, which adjourned at 12:25 a.m. on June 2.

His last action was letting Senate Bill 309, which allows smoking by convention attendees at tobacco-related trade shows, become law without his signature.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority had testified it lost two tobacco-related shows worth $41 million because convention attendees could not smoke. A voter-approved law passed in 2006 prevents smoking in most public places, including at conventions.

In all, Gibbons vetoed a record 48 bills passed by the Legislature. That eclipses the previous record of 33 vetoes by Gov. H. G. Blasdel in 1864-65.

Twenty-five of Gibbons' vetoes were overridden by the Legislature.

The seven vetoes he has made since the Legislature adjourned will remain in effect until lawmakers return to Carson City for the next regular session in February 2011. They then can decide whether to sustain or override the vetoes.

David Kallas, the chief lobbyist for the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, was not surprised by Gibbons' veto of Assembly Bill 130. This bill made the sheriff or his designee the sole negotiator with the union that represents 2,500 officers.

"All he is doing is rubber-stamping his anti-employee philosophy," Kallas said.

Kallas said he could understand Gibbons' veto of AB130 because of opposition from the city of Las Vegas and the Clark County Commission. But he was bewildered by the governor's rejection of Senate Bill 396, a proposal to allow police officers under investigation to copy any investigation reports compiled against them. Now, police officers can take only notes from investigation reports.

The bill also would have prevented police agencies from taking any adverse actions against officers who made statements against fellow officers during an investigation.

This was the "police bill of rights," Kallas said, and it was backed by the sheriff and local governments.

"His veto of SB396 is a slap in the face of every police officer in state," he added.

Kallas said the section about not retaliating against a police officer who made statements during an investigation was taken from a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

AB130 came under fire throughout the session. At one point, the bill was killed by the Senate. Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, then won a vote to revive it.

The bill also would have changed a current law that says two members of the Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs and the sheriff or his designee can participate in negotiations for contracts and other matters.

Typically, the two fiscal affairs committee members were elected officials from the Las Vegas City Council or the Clark County Commission. Under the vetoed bill, those officials would have only monitored the negotiations.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman did not favor the bill. Sisolak was concerned about AB130 because the sheriff might, as someone who rose through the ranks, be predisposed to siding with the union and granting larger contracts.

Gibbons said he vetoed the bill because it precluded the county and city from participating in negotiations.

"The entity responsible for funding the agreements that would result from those negotiations should have a real seat at the negotiation table," he said.

Gibbons said he vetoed SB396 because it would have slowed down the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate misconduct allegations. "While vast majority of peace officers serve their communities well and deserve the utmost respect of all Nevadans, it is sometimes necessary to immediately investigate allegations of wrongdoing in the name of public safety."

Gibbons' other actions on Tuesday included vetoing Senate Bill 143, which would have allocated $500,000 to implement the $1 billion in tax increases approved by the Legislature. State Taxation Director Dino Dicianno said he needs money to program his computers to charge the higher tax rates. He said he will continue with the work necessary to start the tax increases and bill the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee for the cost.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said legislators anticipated the veto and have money available to cover the costs.

Gibbons also vetoed AB531, which would have allowed the Legislature to create a citizens committee to study state transportation needs and propose advisory ballot questions on ways to fund highway construction.

AB451 was also blocked by Gibbons. It would have allowed the state to invest in certificates of deposit to fund a loan program for minority-owned businesses. Gibbons said he vetoed the bill because the treasurer has a duty to maximize the safety and return on state investments. The bill would have changed that "fundamental duty," he said.

Gibbons didn't kill SB309, but the smoking bill might face later challenges. A state law requires legislators to consider only one subject in each bill. The provisions to allow smoking at tobacco conventions were added to a bill on stalking.

During a news conference, Gibbons and reporters joked that the only things similar about subjects in the bill were that they were words that began with "s."

Contact reporter Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.


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