CARSON CITY — With the adjournment of the 2013 Legislature early Tuesday, several veteran legislators are preparing to run for other offices while others are heading into retirement because they have been term-limited out of jobs.
Four legislators are prevented by term limits from running again. Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, also the president of the Senate, is term-limited from seeking another term.
But the impact of the constitutional amendment limiting legislators to 12 years in each house, which was approved by voters back in 1998, has already hit the Legislature hard. It prohibited five legislators, including four state senators — Dean Rhoads, Mike McGinness, Mike Schneider and Valerie Wiener, with a combined 92 years of experience — from seeking re-election in November.
Term limits meant in 2013 that many inexperienced legislators led committees in the state Senate and Assembly. In the Assembly, six second-term Assembly members headed committees, while three freshmen chaired Senate committees.
The Democratic and Republican leaders of the two houses also were new, although all four had previous legislative experience.
When these leaders failed to complete the 120-day session on time Monday night and needed a brief special session Tuesday morning to finish business, some suggested it might have been the result of term limits, which only took full effect with the 2013 session.
There was an obvious sign of how inexperience can be embarrassing.
Toward the end of the session Monday, Assembly members on a 38-4 vote approved a $12 billion authorization bill allowing the spending of federal grants and highway funds.
The problem was the state constitution, because of a voter-approved amendment sought by then-Rep. Jim Gibbons, requires the school budget to be passed before any of the five bills funding government.
Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Rick Combs quickly informed Assembly leaders of the mistake, and they had to rescind that vote and first pass the $2.5 billion school funding bill.
No way would term-limited former Speakers Richard Perkins and Barbara Buckley have made that mistake.
Then there was the chaos just before the midnight adjournment.
The More Cops bill — Assembly Bill 496 that allows the Clark County Commission to impose a small sales tax increase to hire police — remained unapproved, waiting for the two houses to agree on an amendment.
Senate Revenue Chairman Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, said early in the evening that there would be no problem. There was ample time to approve it, he said.
But legislators failed by about a minute to pass the bill, forcing Gov. Brian Sandoval to call a 75-minute special session early Tuesday.
With better management, the More Cops bill could have been passed at any time in the previous week.
“It wasn’t my first choice,” said Sandoval about calling a special session that cost taxpayers about $25,000. “But the bill failed and public safety is extremely important.”
Not one to criticize, Sandoval praised legislative leaders, mentioned how hard they worked.
They “just missed” finishing on time, he said.
Term limits mean the end of the careers of some of the best known legislators.
State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, has served the legally maximum 12 years in the Senate and now looks to a new campaign, perhaps a run for secretary of state or for the Clark County Commission.
Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, are ending their Assembly careers after putting in the maximum allowed service.
Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, also is term-limited. She suffered through serious health problems for most of the session, but received a standing ovation when she briefly joined her colleagues on the Assembly floor Monday.
Horne, 52, could have sought a state Senate seat last year, but decided not to run for a new office. Republican Mark Hutchison won the seat that Horne could have sought. Hutchison’s term does not end until 2016.
Horne now must find another office to seek or return to full-time duties as a lawyer. He will make a decision on his political future in coming months.
MORE LEGISLATOR CHURN
State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, won’t decide whether to bid for attorney general until a couple of months after the legislative session ends.
If he enters the attorney general’s race, then it would likely be against Secretary of State Ross Miller, a formidable foe in a state where Democrats hold an 89,000 registered voter advantage over Republicans.
Miller also is term-limited from running for re-election. Brower, in the middle of his four-year term as state senator, would not lose his Senate seat if he ran for attorney general and lost. Brower is a former U.S. attorney who grew up in Las Vegas.
Republican Cegavske faces the same registered voter disadvantage as Brower in a statewide race. That’s why she might decide on the Clark County Commission seat now held by Susan Brager.
But Brager said she already has launched her campaign for a third and final term on the commission.
“I am excited to run and I am going to win,” Brager said Tuesday.
Cegavske, who was honored Monday in the state Senate for her long legislative service, said she isn’t done with political life.
“I am a hard worker and I love public service,” Cegavske said. “Serving on the County Commission would allow me to live in Las Vegas, but I also could live in Las Vegas as secretary of state. They have an office down there.”
krolicki term-limited again
Krolicki also is term-limited and cannot seek re-election. He is the first state official in Nevada termed out of two offices — first as state treasurer and now as lieutenant governor. He will decide this summer with his family whether to seek another elective office.
“I like public service,” said Krolicki, who also noted that his children are fast approaching college age and he will need income to help them.
He lives in Douglas County at Lake Tahoe, and Republicans already hold the legislative seats in his area. Krolicki also was honored by the state Senate in ceremonies on Monday.
Unlike any other Republican in Nevada, Krolicki has won four statewide races, despite the Democratic registration advantage. If he wants to run for another statewide office, then he could become a candidate for secretary of state or state controller. He admits an affinity to working with numbers, which would be good for a controller.
Current Controller Kim Wallin is term-limited from seeking another term.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.