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Nevada Legislature’s quieter session a change of pace for lobbyists and local businesses

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 1:11 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Silver State’s lawmakers have convened in Carson City, but Nevada’s 81st Session of the Legislature is operating at a bare-minimum capacity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“In normal times, you will have hundreds of people coming out of that building any moment of the day,” said Will Adler, a longtime local lobbyist and Principal of Silver State Government Relations. “It is the People’s House, it’s where the laws and regulations begin for Nevada.”

While many of the state’s representatives and their staffs are in Carson City, much of the legislative process will still take place virtually. This includes lobbying, which greatly reduces the amount of foot traffic in and around the state’s capital city.

“Sadly this year we are limited, as everybody else is, in what interactions we can have with that public building,” said Adler. “So it’s a bit of a ghost town around here.”

Adler also says the drastic change in operations has led to “changes to what it means to be a lobbyist and what it means for the Legislature to have us interact with them.”

“We’re all learning the rules at the same time they’re writing them because it’s changing in real time,” said Adler.

Located directly across the street from the legislative building is Comma Coffee, a cafe full of character and with a full menu. In 2020, owner June Joplin celebrated 20 years serving the Carson City community while also fighting to keep her business afloat.

Losing a busy session just adds to the “hits,” as she puts it.

“We’d be full right now,” said Joplin, with roughly a half-dozen patrons in her restaurant at noon, one operating at 25% capacity per the ongoing state restrictions. “Lots of suits and high heels. We’d be bustling.”

Joplin says the lack of a busy session won’t completely devastate her earnings, but adds she does miss all the interactions that come with it. The limited access to the building also hurts her catering opportunities, though Joplin is thankful there’s anything happening in-person at all.

“I can still deliver to the lobbyists and offices that are around,” said Joplin. “So I’m glad it’s here, be it as it may.”

Nevada’s 81st Session of the Legislature began February 1st and lasts for 120 days.

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