Twin peaks? Lawmakers may compromise on Nevada mountaintop bills

WASHINGTON — Republicans want to name a mountain peak outside Las Vegas for Ronald Reagan. Democrats want to name one after former Nevada Lt. Gov. Maude Frazier. A compromise being discussed in Congress might make everyone happy.

Lawmakers and staffers on the House Natural Resources Committee have talked about coupling the two proposals when they convene a business meeting on Wednesday, according to congressional officials.

There were conflicting reports Tuesday whether an agreement had been reached, and it may not become clear until the committee meets. If so, it would apply a bipartisan shine on a matter that might otherwise split the Nevada delegation, and make it easier to pass the bills together as each would most likely fail if considered separately.

Chuck Muth, a Las Vegas activist who has promoted naming a peak on Frenchman Mountain on the eastern edge of the Las Vegas valley for the former president, said he received an email Monday from Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., asking if he would be okay with a deal.

“I told him that was our full expectation all along,” Muth said. “We were going to have to give something to get something. We don’t have anything against Maude Frazier. We both win and that’s about as good as it gets in DC these days.”

Heck, who introduced the Reagan bill, said naming both peaks “is a compromise that makes sense.”

“President Reagan’s legacy as our 40th President is worthy of recognition and naming a peak on Frenchman Mountain in his honor is a fitting tribute,” he said in a statement. “Everyone involved should agree this bipartisan solution is the most effective way to get the legislation passed.”

The bill to name the highest peak on Frenchman Mountain after Frazier, the first women to serve as lieutenant governor (in 1962-63), and the driving force behind the establishment of what became the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was sponsored by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.

Some House officials, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss talks behind-the-scenes, said they believed a deal has been reached. Titus on Tuesday said otherwise.

“The last I heard that was not the case,” said Titus, whose staff was working with Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee. “If they move the Ronald Reagan bill and not the Maude Frazier bill we are going to have to fight that.”

The “Mount Reagan” bill is on the Natural Resources Committee agenda for Wednesday. A committee spokeswoman said no amendments to the bill had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon but it would not be unusual for one to be submitted later if it was the product of a bipartisan agreement.

Muth campaigned last year to have the highest peak on Frenchman Mountain named after Reagan but Titus, no fan of the 40th president, headed him off by introducing the bill to name it after Frazier instead. Heck then sponsored the bill to name the next peak over for the conservative icon.

Titus said one thing was for certain: There is too much discussion about naming mountaintops when the House has a full plate.

“At this point we have a lot more important stuff to do than be quibbling over this,” she said. “We need to pass unemployment insurance, minimum wage (increase), fair pay for women. That’s what we should be focusing on.”

Contact Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.