CARSON CITY – Assemblyman Steven Brooks did an about-face Tuesday and decided not to take a leave of absence from the state Legislature, Democratic leaders said.
The surprising development was announced by Assembly Majority Leader William Horne and Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who met with Brooks for 45 minutes in his office.
“He says he’s ready to come and participate,” Horne said at a news conference after the meeting.
Earlier Tuesday, Brooks told his attorney and legislative leaders that he would agree to take a leave of up to 60 days so that he could take care of his medical issues.
Both Horne, of Las Vegas, and Kirkpatrick, of North Las Vegas, said they believed Brooks needed time to take care of unspecified medical issues. Horne said Brooks insisted Tuesday that he is ready to serve, although on Sunday, he approached Democratic leaders and asked to take a break.
Kirkpatrick said she has no concerns about serving alongside Brooks, who was arrested in Las Vegas on Jan. 19 on allegations that he threatened her. The arrest has led to the controversy surrounding his participation in the Legislature.
“I absolutely feel safe,” Kirkpatrick said.
BROOKS EXPECTED TO WORK HARD
Horne said Brooks will be expected to attend all of his committee assignments and to work as hard as the 41 other members of the Assembly.
The first test will come today when a joint Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means budget subcommittee convenes at 8 a.m. Brooks is a member of the subcommittee on general government.
Also, an Assembly floor session is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
In addition to Ways and Means, Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, serves on the Transportation and Health and Human Services committees.
Brooks did not attend the
8 a.m. Ways and Means committee hearing Tuesday.
The Transportation Committee held a hearing Tuesday afternoon, but Brooks had a medical appointment that conflicted, Horne said.
Horne said Brooks had arrived at the Legislative Building about noon. Democratic leaders expected him to sign an agreement giving him a leave of absence with pay for up to 60 days. Lawmakers are paid $146.29 a day for the first 60 days of the session.
“I’ve known Mr. Brooks for a little more than three years,” Horne said. “In my opinion, Mr. Brooks is not the same gentleman that I’ve grown to know. I wish Mr. Brooks well.”
PANEL STILL will BE APPOINTED
Horne said a select committee will be appointed this week to review Brooks’ conduct over the past several weeks, although it is not expected to delve into the felony criminal charge he faces on the threat allegations.
Brooks’ attendance at committee meetings and floor sessions could be a factor in any decision made by the select committee, Horne said.
“We anticipate and expect him to work just as hard as anyone else in this body,” he said.
The actions of the committee could range from no findings to expulsion, Horne said.
Brooks was sworn into office Monday but was then expected to take the leave. A contingent of media followed Brooks every time he left the Assembly chambers, including a visit to a restroom, where media members waited outside.
Brooks attempted to use back rooms and side doors to avoid questions and the television cameras trained on him.
“We have been friends with Mr. Brooks for some time,” Horne said. “And we believe that we were trying to help a friend to deal with this difficult decision to make whether or not he should take a leave.
“Frankly, we believe that the media attention has been hampering him on making that decision,” Horne said. “It hasn’t been helping.”
Horne will serve as chairman of the select committee, which probably will be made up of seven members from both parties.
He said the committee will try to do its work quickly.
The other committee members have not yet been selected, and the scope of the review is being formulated, he said.
panel will act quickly
Horne said he would like to forward any recommendations to the full 42-member Assembly within two weeks or less.
“We want to get it done swiftly, but efficiently and fairly, because we have a lot of other issues the state is looking towards us solving,” he said.
Whatever the recommendations are, “we’ll live with those and then we will move on with the state’s business,” Horne said.
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