CARSON CITY — The 2009 Legislature reached its midpoint today, with lawmakers trying to cope with worsening revenue projections and getting their last day of pay.
Legislators are paid for only the first 60 days of their 120-day sessions. Those elected last year had been getting $144 a day while senators elected or re-elected in 2006 were getting $139. They’ll all continue to get $167 a day to cover expenses during the session.
The pace has been fast, with more than 900 measures being introduced and starting to go through the committee hearing process. However, proposals that have won final legislative approval have been more ceremonial than substantial.
“We’re on a high-speed train running about 350 mph,” said Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas.
Staying on track is the big issue as the lawmakers try to approve a budget for the coming two fiscal years. They can’t make any final decisions on the spending plan until the state Economic Forum makes its official tax revenue projections May 1.
Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley said “substantial progress” has been made on the budget, adding that money committees have never been this far along at the midpoint of a session.
Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, adds, “I think we’re really moving along. I think we’ve accomplished a lot for the first half of the session.”
More than 300 bills already have won approval in the first committees to which they were routed after being introduced. By April 10, those first-round committees must act on remaining bills that aren’t exempt from that deadline, and that will greatly increase the number of measures that can come up for floor votes in the Assembly and Senate.
The deadline also will result in many bills being killed rather than advanced. So far, committees have shelved only a handful of proposals.