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Web viewers can see legislators in action

CARSON CITY — The budget bloodletting will be broadcast. On the Internet, at least.

When lawmakers gather today at 10 a.m. for the 24th special session in Nevada history, the occasion will be accessible to those with access to a computer.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the Assembly and Senate floor sessions, and any committee meetings deemed necessary, will be viewable live by visiting the Legislature’s Web site.

But don’t expect much to happen at 10 a.m. Despite pressure to move quickly to cut the budget by tens of millions of dollars, lawmakers usually get off to a slow start.

The process has its own rules, some of which can seem arcane. Both houses may choose to appoint committees to walk over to Gov. Jim Gibbons’ Capitol office to let him know, in person, that they are ready to convene.

But Malkiewich said the session should get under way fairly quickly. There are no new members to swear into office, which can take some time.

The Senate and Assembly will meet separately but probably will consider cuts as "committees of the whole," meaning all lawmakers will be included in the budget-cutting debate in their respective chambers.

Lawmakers will have wide latitude on how to balance the current two-year budget, which already has seen spending cuts and other measures to cover a $913 million shortfall. Now lawmakers must find as much as $275 million more.

The proclamation issued by Gibbons calling the 63 lawmakers to Carson City is broad enough to allow for all types of actions, even tax increases, but Gibbons has vowed not to sign any such increases.

A tentative plan has been devised that would avoid eliminating the 4 percent raise for public school teachers.

Most lawmakers will receive just under $138 a day in pay for the session. Some members of the Senate, who have not yet been re-elected, will get a lower amount of $130. Lawmakers can be paid for the first 20 days of a special session only, but they can meet indefinitely.

Most lawmakers also will receive $155 a day in living expenses.

The plan is to try to craft a plan to balance the budget in three days, but the session could last only one day. It will cost an estimated $100,000 for one day, plus $50,000 for every additional day lawmakers meet.

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