Where are the lobbyists?

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 5:41 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - In every other session legislative hallways would be more crowded with Nevada citizens, staff members and lobbyists. But this year the hallways are nearly empty and one room devoted to lobbyists is shut down.

For now, those lobbyists must remain outside of the legislative building.

“That badge gave you access inside and outside the hall,” says lobbyist Will Adler. “With relatively no restrictions. Because they knew who you were. Because you had done the registration and paid that fee. Nowadays lobbying is what most things are these days. They are virtual, they are distant,” he says.

Typically, Adler and others would register and pay a fee to be a lobbyist at the Nevada Legislature. Such registration allows them to walk the halls and introduce themselves and meet later with legislators when proposed laws come up.

For now, many lobbyists have not had face-to-face contact particularly with freshman lawmakers. And the only time in many instances them meet is through public meetings a Zoom calls.

And that has posed another set of problems.

“We have no idea really who is representing whom,” says Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro. “Other than our conversations, which you know, most folks you can take their word for it. But I think in an effort that we ensure transparency who is operating in this building on behalf of whom to us about bills; make sure that the public knows who is in this building doing those things. We really need to address the law,” she says.

AB 110 hopes to bring the process of registering lobbyist here in Carson City up to the times. The bill would allow lobbyists to register on-line instead of in person. And there are other housekeeping measures involved in AB 110 The bill also defines a lobbyist who is: it is not a person who directly contacts lawmakers infrequently. Members of groups or unions who want to express themselves to lawmakers and are not paid to do so are also not considered lobbyists.

AB 110 has already passed the Nevada Assembly and is now in a senate committee.

Many lawmakers say they want this bill on the governor’s desk soon, so they, other lobbyists and the public know exactly who is chiming in during Zoom calls, who they officially represent, and bring transparency back to the legislative process.

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