Gibbons: Legislative Process Poisoned

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons can claim
few victories from the 2009 Legislature but that's mainly because
the process was "poisoned" by the lawmakers' Democratic leaders,
a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.

Dan Burns added that Gibbons was disappointed by the $781
million tax increase plan and $6.8 billion two-year budget approved
by lawmakers over his vetoes, but added the tax increase "would
have been even larger had he not been very vocal and adamant" in
opposing it.

Burns also said Gibbons succeeded in getting key renewable
energy plans approved. Those proposals, including SB395 which
barely won approval before lawmakers adjourned early Tuesday, were
part of a joint effort involving both Gibbons' staff and
legislators.

Many GOP lawmakers signed onto some of the record 25 veto
overrides of the record 41 vetoes by Gibbons, but Burns said that
doesn't show there was a disconnect between the governor and those
lawmakers or that he was disengaged from the Legislature.

"If we didn't have so many bad bills sent over, we wouldn't
have had so many vetoes," Burns said, adding that Gibbons wasn't
rejecting measures out of spite and "stood up for what he believed
in."

Burns also said Gibbons tried to work with legislative leaders
early on but the process was "poisoned from the beginning by
(Assembly Speaker) Barbara Buckley and (Senate Majority Leader)
Steven Horsford."

The lawmakers' final action on bills was the Senate's approval
of SB395, the alternative energy plan sought by Gibbons. Other
bills approved on the 2009 session's last day included AB140, part
of an effort to help ease Nevada's highest-in-the-nation
foreclosure rate.

Lawmakers also approved SB269, which provides for immediate
license suspensions of medical professionals convicted of felonies.
The measure is a response to a hepatitis C outbreak in Las Vegas
caused by shoddy injection practices.

Lawmakers also granted state workers some collective bargaining
rights - excluding talks on wages or other economic matters.

Lawmakers also revived and approved part of a once-rejected
proposal to roll back a voter-approved smoking ban in public
places. An amendment tacked onto AB309, which deals with stalking,
allows smoking at tobacco trade conventions.

Among the measures shelved in the final hours of the session was
SB52, a bill to bring the state into line with terms of the federal
Real ID Act. Critics said there was potential for "Orwellian"
intrusions into Nevadans' privacy.

Also lost in the last-minute shuffle was a plan to prohibit
Nevada motorists, including police and emergency personnel, from
text-messaging on cell phones while driving. The proposal was
amended into SB309, which dealt with motorcycles and mopeds, but
advanced no farther.

Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, told fellow senators that the 2009
Legislature didn't fix "all the problems. But I am here to tell
you that we have kept the fabric of this state together."

"Just look at this session," said Buckley, D-Las Vegas. "We
were faced with a challenge never before faced by our state."

"But look at how we came together," she added. "We all came
together to attack the unprecedented challenges facing our state."

Besides the veto overrides that preserved the lawmakers' state
budget and tax plan, they also overrode Gibbons' veto of SB283,
providing various legal rights for domestic partners.

Also rejected was Gibbons' veto of AB463, aimed at blocking
unwarranted use of high-priced consultants by state agencies; and
his veto of AB121, calling for hospital staffing plans to ensure
adequate nurse-to-patient ratios and safety of patients.

Legislators also overrode Gibbons' veto of AB493, a plan to
track investments by the state Public Employees' Retirement System
into Iran's oil-energy industry; and his veto of AB304, which
requires spending of millions of dollars in redevelopment funds to
reopen F Street in Las Vegas.

Several of Gibbons' vetoes were upheld, among them his rejection
of AB458, which sets up a rainy-day fund for public education, hard
hit by the economic downturn.


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