Question One: A Matter of Balance of Power?

In some respects question one poses a series of what ifs.

What if there were a compelling reason, an issue, an extraordinary situation that couldn't wait for another biennial session and the sitting governor declined to address it?

Or what if the governor or another member of the executive branch WAS the issue. Would a sitting governor call a special session to consider his or her own impeachment?

That last scenario may seen less far fetched since the last time Nevada voters had this question before them.

They've been able to watch as Illinois Governor Rod Blagoyevich. was charged with attempting to sell a U.S. Senate seat. And they watched as he was Impeached,. convicted and imprisoned.

What if, Nevada lawmakers were asked during hearings on this issue, God forbid, we ever had such a governor?

But that other what if is even more likely.

A governor vetoing bills after a session's end has the lawmakers in a bind. They're limited to 120 days. Any override would have to wait for a year and a half and a whole new legislature, including some of whom would likely be new to the job.

Governor Jim Gibbons, for instance, vetoed a record number of bills and even made a show of it on the capitol steps.

If the lawmakers had felt any one of them vetoed after the session was important enough to override, they'd have to wait until next session. Thirty four other states give their legislators an option to call themselves into session.

"Most states have this," says former State Archivist Guy Rocha, a lifetime observer of the Nevada political scene.

And he says that number includes other small states with conservative populations.

"They just want to restore a balance of power and they don't want a chief executive to have that kind of power over the legislature."

The arguments against passage include the fear that this would lead us to having a full time professional legislature. Rocha says that hasn't happened in similar states like Wyoming and Alaska

In any case, the bar the lawmakers would have to meet is set fairly high. Two thirds majority in both houses would have to sign off on it. The session would be limited to one subject and they'd have 20 days to do something.

"For any particular legislator that wants to move in that direction to get two thirds of both houses, Republicans and Democrats, north and south. It's going to have to be of the highest magnitude to ever be invoked."

Rocha says at its core its a question of balance of power. Nevada's constitution, he says, tilts the field in favor of the executive branch.

The question has enjoyed support from both sides of the political spectrum. It passed with a strong bipartisan vote in 2009, but saw a narrow party-line vote last year.

A yes vote by the public puts it into the constitution. A no vote rejects it.

A similar measure failed in 2006 by a 52 to 48% margin.


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