The 2019 Legislature is barely two weeks old, but the bad bills are already piling up in Carson City. Special recognition goes to state Sen. Julia Ratti for taking the early lead in the race to sponsor the greatest number of dreadful legislative proposals.
Sen. Ratti, a Democrat from Washoe County, is participating in her second session after serving eight years on the Sparks City Council. She distinguished herself in 2017 by tirelessly lugging water jugs for the government unions and offering a bill mandating that certain information about public pension payouts be kept confidential from the taxpayers forced to fund those benefits. On Monday, she introduced the same awful measure, this time known as Senate Bill 224.
That came only a week after Sen. Ratti authored an amendment to Senate Bill 103 that would authorize any Nevada local government to “use rent control as part of its plan for maintaining and developing affordable housing.”
Sen. Ratti has seized the mantle in defense of rent control and government secrecy. That’s quite the daily double. It’s difficult to judge at this point which is worse.
SB224 would exempt various data regarding public pensions from the state’s open record statutes. In essence, it would make it more difficult to determine retirement payments for specific workers. It’s a blatant attack on open government, accountability and transparency, concepts vital to maintaining confidence in our public institutions.
Sen. Ratti and union leaders maintain the proposal is intended to shield elderly retirees from scams and fraud. In fact, it’s a ham-fisted attempt to limit information that might help fuel efforts to reform hemorrhaging public pension plans and rein in skyrocketing benefits. Simply put, private-sector taxpayers have a right to know the details regarding the government retirement benefits they supply, just as they have access to the specifics surrounding salaries and perks paid to active public-sector workers.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ratti’s amendment to SB103 cracks the door to allowing local elected officials and government bureaucrats to determine “fair” rents for housing.
Rent control has long been favored by authoritarian progressives, but in practice the intervention has proven a dismal failure because it discourages the private investment necessary to create a robust housing market. If there’s a commodity shortage, a sure way to exacerbate the problem is to slap price controls on it. Perhaps it simply reflects Sen. Ratti’s sense of humor that she would attach a rent control rider to a bill ostensibly designed to increase the state’s supply of “affordable housing,” but probably not.
Democrats enjoy full run of the Legislature with commanding majorities in both houses. We’ll know by June the extent of the damage. If Sen. Ratti’s busy agenda is any indication, it won’t be pretty.