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Political Eye: Nevada lawmakers must do or have bills die

Today will be the first day in the 43-day-old 2013 legislative session when lawmakers work late into the evening.

Under their rules, it’s the final day for individual legislators to introduce bills for consideration this year. Expect hundreds of bills to be introduced. Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, already has warned his colleagues to be prepared to work late.

There is a good reason for that.

Records show legislators have asked lawyers to prepare 1,198 bills for this session. As of Thursday, only 559 of them — 301 in the Assembly and 258 in the Senate — had been introduced. That means lawyers have a lot of work due by today.

But in reality, it means many of those bills will die. That’s because even if the bills are introduced, rules require bills to pass out of committee by April 12, or 25 days from today.

Most committees meet only two or three times a week, so it is virtually impossible to hold hearings on 500 more bills, approve amendments and send them to the floor for a vote.

Expect a lot of legislators, particularly freshmen, to go away unhappy because their bills never arrive.

Five hundred bills became law in 2011.

— Ed Vogel

HENDERSON CHAMBER

It should come as no surprise to state lawmakers that the top concerns of members of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce for the 2013 legislative session are job creation and economic diversification, with taxes coming in a close second.

Those issues ranked at the top of a survey of chamber membership taken before each legislative session. Members are asked to rank issues based on a scale of “extremely important” to “not important.”

The survey, distributed to all of the chamber’s 900 members via email, had 74 responses for an 8 percent return rate.

This year, Henderson businesses are looking for leadership from lawmakers on job creation, business taxes and raising Nevada’s education standards and graduation rates.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents picked economic development and redevelopment as very important or extremely important.

“The economy is of vital importance to our members,” said Scott Muelrath, president and CEO of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce. “Growing Nevada’s economic opportunities through job creation and diversification is vital to not only local businesses, but to the communities they serve. It’s through initiatives that support these issues that we can achieve a healthy, prosperous future for everyone.”

Following closely was taxes, with 73 percent citing the issue as being very important or extremely important. Education was third at 70 percent, with graduation rates and skill gaps cited by 82 percent of the businesses.

Health care was next at 66 percent, with 82 percent citing health care costs as the reason for concern; infrastructure was fifth at 56 percent with the region’s water supply cited by 74 percent; and energy was sixth with 44 percent, with energy costs cited as the primary concern by 72 percent.

— Sean Whaley

LATINO MUSEUM

Republicans and Democrats in Washington can’t agree on a budget.

They can’t agree on gun control legislation.

And they can’t agree on immigration reform.

But all is not lost. The two sides have come together to back creating the Smithsonian American Latino Museum.

This may have something to do with the growing power of the Hispanic vote in Nevada and nationwide.

At any rate, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is among the co-sponsors along with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is a potential 2016 presidential candidate and one of the nation’s rising Latino political stars.

Reid has credited his 2010 re-election to Hispanic voters’ support. And Rubio is considered one of the Republican Party’s great hopes for wooing Latinos back to the GOP, which has been losing the Hispanic vote to Democrats for decades.

Other lawmakers who reintroduced the bipartisan legislation to create the American Latino Museum include U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., who also is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

The legislation proposes locating the new Latino museum at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries building on the National Mall. The new museum was recommended in a May 2011 report by the bipartisan Commission to Study the Potential Creation of the National Museum of American Latino, according to Reid’s office.

The museum would have to be built through private funds.

“It is time for our country to have a special place where the Hispanic culture and its people can be honored and recognized for being an integral part of our national identity,” Reid said in a statement.

Rubio said the museum would recognize America’s history of welcoming immigrants.

“This will be an enduring monument as much to the people who have found opportunity and refuge in America as it is a tribute to our exceptional country that has always welcomed people and helped them realize their dreams like no other place in human history,” Rubio said in a statement.

— Laura Myers

Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal
.com or 775-687-3901. Contact reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter.

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