PLAYING GAMES ON THE ROAD BILL
Never underestimate the yearning of politicians to grab the spotlight.
Take state Senate Democrats, for instance.
Silent for most of four months on the issue of transportation funding, they finally found their voice in the waning days of the Legislature ... after it appeared that Gov. Jim Gibbons had grabbed control of the issue. And they certainly couldn't let that happen -- especially Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, still stinging from her electoral beating at the hands of Gov. Gibbons in last November's gubernatorial race.
Last week, just days before adjournment, Assembly Democrats and Gov. Gibbons reached agreement on the state's most vital business. Revenue was identified to pay for the widening of Interstate 15 and part of U.S. Highway 95 in the Las Vegas Valley -- without increasing any taxes. ... The measure appeared poised for easy passage in the Senate.
But Democrats ... suddenly decided that the bill which had passed the Assembly wasn't good enough. Instead, in a transparent political ploy designed to position themselves as warriors in the battle against Southern Nevada gridlock, Senate Democrats offered a series of amendments that slowed the bill's progress.
Their amendments included a demand that voters face an advisory question on raising the diesel fuel tax to pay for road improvements and that a tax break given to golf course owners be rescinded with the money being redirected to transportation. ...
Southern Nevada lawmakers dawdled around the challenge for months. The Legislature didn't make any headway on the issue until Gov. Gibbons proposed diverting room tax revenue from the convention authority. His proposal was roundly mocked, initially, and declared all but dead by a handful of lawmakers. Now a version of it is ... law.