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Democrats continue pushing plan to make public records secret

The bill to make public information secret has a secret of its own.

Senate Bill 384, proposed by Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, would block the public from finding out the names of public retirees. On Thursday, the Assembly adopted an amendment that would make the names of retirees public but make confidential previously releasable information like years of service, retirement date and pension type. That information is essential to reporters and researchers seeking to find out how generous Nevada’s pensions are and identify double dippers.

But the bill contains a Trojan Horse.

The bill says all information about a “member” that is in a personnel file is confidential, no matter what other government record contains that information. The only exceptions are employee name, last employer and pension amount. Current law says that while personnel files are confidential, other documents that contain information also in a personnel file are public.

From the context of the bill, you’d assume that member means PERS retiree. Nope. Member has the definition assigned to it in NRS 286.050: A person “[w]ho is employed by a participating public employer and who is contributing to [PERS].”

In what is either a ginormous oversight or a devilishly clever scheme, that definition fits every current public employee in Nevada. SB384 would make it illegal for a government to give out compensation information on current employees. So long TransparentNevada.com.

Just one Democrat, Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro, of Las Vegas, voted to protect the public’s right to this information. Fortunately, all Senate and Assembly Republicans voted against the bill, which makes a Gov. Brian Sandoval veto all but inevitable.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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