As a legislator, I’m being approached concerning State Question No. 1 and what it means.
Question No. 1 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, which means it required only legislative approval to put the issue before the voters. Passage of this measure would amend our Nevada Constitution to grant the Legislature authority to call itself into special session.
Question No. 1 was given life by Assembly Joint Resolution 5, and its courtship in the Legislature was a rocky one, met with opposition but welcomed by the promoters who routinely embrace bigger government.
The powers-that-be say we need this amendment should “extraordinary situations” arise. I suppose a rainy day in Las Vegas could be considered an extraordinary situation, but this type of express power is already granted to the governor, and Nevada has already witnessed 26 special sessions, more than one-third the number of regular sessions.
Passage of Question No. 1 would open up a new can of worms: Currently the governor calls for special sessions and limits the subject matter, an action that facilitates decorum. Take note, however, that language inserted into AJR 5 reads: “A special session convened pursuant to this section takes precedence over a special session convened by the Governor.” Thus, this newly applied express power would have the potential to render useless the governor’s constitutional role regarding special sessions.
The argument that this passage is required to address an executive veto is pointless so long as we tend to our legislative calendar and pass out all final bills to the governor’s desk in a well-timed manner.
The largest argument that the proponents are peddling to persuade the public to support this measure is a hypothetical scenario that involves impeaching a governor. This scenario is rare, and I would remind the proponents that we the people already have the ability to recall a governor. If that were the genuine intent of AJR 5, then this should have been the sole content, rather than a red herring.
Though often credited to Mark Twain, it was former New York State Assemblyman and Secretary of State Gideon John Tucker who wrote in 1866: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” Our constitutional roles were structured in the manner they were because the framers recognized the advantage of setting limits within which citizen legislators must conduct our duties. If more legislating is beneficial, then why not have a full-time legislative body like our neighbors to the west? Has that worked well for California?
Republican Don Gustavson represents the Sparks area in the Nevada state Senate.