State Senate votes for more lobbyist transparency

CARSON CITY — Taking a step toward more transparency in government, the state Senate voted 21-0 Tuesday for a bill to require legislative lobbyists to report what they spend on legislators year-round.

Now, lobbyists must report their expenditures on legislators during the four-month regular legislative sessions in odd-numbered years.

Senate Bill 203, which goes to the Assembly, would require them to report such expenditures every quarter during the periods the Legislature is not in session.

“Transparency is good for Nevada and good for the process,” said state Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas.

Jones said everyone knows that lobbyists sometimes hold private meetings with legislators during the off-session periods and may make expenditures on them.

“A great deal of lobbying goes on the interim,” he said. “We all rely on lobbyists as an important source of information. But our constituents have a right to know (if expenditures are made).”

SB203 is a version of a bill introduced two years ago by then-state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno.

That bill was approved by the Senate but then died in the Assembly in committee without a vote. Several former Assembly members, including Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, now are state senators. Segerblom led the committee in the Assembly that did not vote on Leslie’s bill.

Lobbyists are required during the session to report all gifts, meals and entertainment they spend on legislators.

During the 2011 session, lobbyists spent a combined $4,561 on legislators, or $72 per legislator.

For several sessions, many legislators have taken pride in accepting nothing from lobbyists.

Nine of the 21 senators and 15 of the 42 Assembly members accepted nothing from lobbyists in 2011.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.