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Clark County moves to fill 2 Assembly vacancies in time for special session

Five seats in the Nevada Legislature — three from the north and two from the south — will be filled through appointment by county commissioners to serve in the anticipated special session to consider public financing of a proposed NFL stadium in Las Vegas and other taxes.

Clark County commissioners aren’t wasting time to fill two vacancies to the Assembly before legislators are summoned to Carson City to consider increasing taxes to fund a stadium for the Oakland Raiders, convention center expansion, and hiring more police officers to patrol the resort corridor.

Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said Friday he wants the county well positioned should Gov. Brian Sandoval sign a proclamation calling lawmakers into special session on short notice.

“If there is going to be a special session called I think it’s important that we’re proactive, we have somebody ready to go because we don’t have another commission meeting scheduled after next Wednesday until the first week in October, and if the special session were to happen in the interim it could cause some logistic problems,” Sisolak said.

At Sisolak’s request, the county manager scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday morning to make appointments to fill two vacancies in Assembly Districts 1 and 5.

In Northern Nevada’s Washoe County, three legislative seats are empty. County Commission Chairwoman Kitty Jung said county officials could take up appointments at their Sept. 27 scheduled meeting if a special session is called for early October. For now, she’ll await word from the governor’s office.

“I don’t imagine starting the process sooner,” she said. “It takes no more than three days.” That’s the notice required under Nevada’s open meeting law.


Sisolak, meanwhile, said he will heed the advice of Commissioners Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Susan Brager on the appointments because they represent those geographic districts.

“We would look to them for guidance,” Sisolak said. “They know the districts better than we do and who might be available.”

Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, represented Assembly District 1 in the Legislature for years. She resigned in August 2015 when she was appointed to the County Commission.

Assembly District 5 was vacated by Assemblyman Erv Nelson in February. He went on to run for the state Senate outside his Assembly district, and he lost in the June Republican primary.

Brager said she was already “putting out some feelers” within the Republican Party to find a replacement for Nelson.

“I think it would be good for a nonpolitical person, meaning they understand what is happening but they’re not going to run for the seat,” she said. “I’m going to give it over the weekend.”

Under the Nevada Constitution, county commissioners appoint members to the Legislature when a vacancy occurs between elections and a session is convened. Appointments must be of the same political party as the person who created the vacancy.


While some legislative leaders have suggested a special session could come as early as the first week in October, Sandoval has been noncommittal.

On Friday the two-term Republican governor said he received the final recommendations from the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee and is beginning his “due diligence.”

“At this point, I am focused on reviewing the full scope of the five recommendations. Once my questions have been answered to my satisfaction and I am comfortable with a proposal, I will consider the options available,” Sandoval said in a statement.

On Thursday, the infrastructure committee unanimously agreed to funding for a proposed $1.9 billion domed stadium with a $750 million public investment to lure the NFL’s Raiders to Southern Nevada. The remainder of the construction costs would be paid by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, Majestic Realty and the Raiders.

Filling all the vacancies is important because some of the legislation likely will require a two-thirds majority for passage. That means 28 votes in the 42-member Assembly, and 14 in the 21-member Senate. The two-thirds threshold remains firm, regardless of how many legislators are present for the vote.

In the north, State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, resigned after the 2015 session to take a federal job in Washington, D.C. State Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, died in February. Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, resigned in January and was appointed by Sandoval to the state Board of Education.

Late Friday, Washoe County issued a statement saying it is “awaiting formal notification” from the governor’s office on any impending special session and “cannot speculate on possible appointments.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter. Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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