Schwarzenegger Meets With Nevada Representatives

Arnold Schwarzenegger
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California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger and key staffers met over the weekend with Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn's chief of staff to talk about the economy, Indian gambling, energy, Lake Tahoe and other "border" issues that link the neighboring states.

Guinn staff chief Marybel Batjer described the meeting Saturday at Schwarzenegger's home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles as "old home week" for her, since she worked for former California Gov. Pete Wilson and many of Schwarzenegger's top aides and advisers did the same.

Batjer said she met off and on for two or three hours with Schwarzenegger, chief of staff Pat Clarey, attorney and trusted Schwarzenegger aide Bonnie Reiss, policy adviser Joe Rodota and others.

Schwarzenegger got a good dose of Nevada over the weekend: After talking over issues that affect both states, he flew to Las Vegas where he handed out medals at the Mr. Olympia event - a body-building event he won seven times.

Batjer described the Brentwood area meeting as "setting up good relations between the two states" and a prelude to direct meetings and phone conversations between the two Republican governors after Schwarzenegger is sworn in next month. Guinn spoke with Schwarzenegger immediately after his election to congratulate him and briefly mention the two states' shared concerns.

Both states "just have so much at stake, and Gov. Guinn feels very strongly that the economic health of California is extremely important to Nevada as well as the rest of the nation," she said.

Batjer also said she saw no looming conflicts between the two governors, noting that Guinn had a good working relationship with outgoing California Gov. Gray Davis.

Besides a healthy economy - which translates into Californians with extra dollars they can spend as gamblers and tourists in Nevada - Batjer said energy is a key concern for both administrations.

"Our pipelines come in from California," she said. "We share the power grid. We're mindful of that."

Lake Tahoe is another common concern for both administrations, Batjer said. The scenic lake divides the two states high in the Sierra, and its water quality is protected by the bistate Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Batjer said there was only brief discussions about Indian gambling - a big issue for Nevada because of the threat of economic harm to this state's casinos, especially in the Reno and Tahoe areas, as such gambling expands in California.

Schwarzenegger already has suggested that California tribes should pay 25 percent of their gambling revenues to help resolve his state's budget problems. Davis' recent agreements called for the tribes to contribute 5 percent, which his administration and the tribes maintain is all that is realistic.

The head of Schwarzenegger's transition team, U.S. Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas, is expected to have a big hand in Indian gambling policies. Dreier has worked closely with former California Gov. Pete Wilson on Schwarzenegger's campaign - and Wilson opposed tribal gambling while he was in office.