Senate rules change sparks partisan fight for Nevada lawmakers

CARSON CITY – Partisan divides percolated on the opening day of the Nevada Legislature on Monday when Republicans and Democrats in the Senate clashed over rules that will govern how the session is conducted.

The Republican minority objected to a provision of Senate Resolution 1 that sets out procedures. In particular, they opposed a rule that limits the power of the lieutenant governor to cast a vote in the event of tie.

The new rule — which mirrors one in effect in 2013 — says the lieutenant governor who presides over the Senate but does not vote can cast a deciding vote when the chamber is “equally divided on any question except the passage of a bill or joint resolution …”

Democrats hold an 11-9-1 majority in the upper chamber.

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison is a Republican and was seen as a possible influencer of vote outcomes.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, issued a statement saying Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, “unconstitutionally stripped the lieutenant governor of his right to vote as the tiebreaker on legislation.”

Democrats contend the constitution is vague on what matters the lieutenant governor votes on.

Republicans also took exception to a rule that would give the majority leader authority not to appoint a conference committee to resolve differences in legislation approved by the separate houses.

If no conference committee is appointed, a bill in that case technically dies.

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