Wrapup: 2009 Session Ends in Ethics Twists

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The end of the Nevada 2009 Legislature
was marked by curious twists in legal ethics issues, including
last-minute decisions that resulted in lawmakers voting on a
crucial tax bill despite initial conflict concerns.

The biggest ethics clash came when two Republican senators,
whose votes were critical in order to pass a $781 million tax
package, were confronted with conflict-of-interest questions just
days before the vote.

One was Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, who was faced with an
ethics complaint that he shouldn't have voted on bills in the 2005
and 2007 sessions because of his connection with the Associated
Builders and Contractors.

The issue was resolved when the Nevada Supreme Court upheld a
lower court ruling that limited the state Ethics Commission's power
to discipline lawmakers. The decision was issued the day before the
critical tax vote, allowing senators to vote just in time.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, also cast what was
seen as an essential vote to pass the tax measure. Raggio at first
planned not to vote, but senators then adopted an exemption to the
conflict rules.

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