CARSON CITY, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) – On the last day of the legislative session in 2011, lawmakers sent more than 90 bills to the Governor’s desk and considered hundreds more. In those piles of bills from the last day are several impacting your pocketbook and even personal safety. For example, there’s one raises your utility bill to build a new transmission line, another changes the punishment process for people breaking criminal laws and yet another one allows people to carry guns in more public places.
“Taxpayers just don't know what's in it until after it's been passed,” Victor Joecks of the Nevada Policy Research Institute said.
He thinks this is a side-effect of the state legislature not having to follow open meetings laws like local governments do.
“The last 2 hours of session are the exciting because it's when everyone tries to slip things right through because no one has time to find out what's in them,” Joecks said.
At Reno City Hall, if they want to consider a change in law no matter how small, they have to publicly post meeting agendas at least 72 hours in advance. However at the state level several lawmakers say over the phone they don't have time to follow this process because there's too much to cram into the four months sessions.
“We make every effort to be as open as we can,” former State Senator Shelia Leslie says lawmakers aren't trying to be sketchy. It's just the way the process is set up in the silver state.
“Voting on major piece of legislation in the last 24 hours has become just a circus. I personally think we need to put some rules in place that say we can't do that anymore. That the public needs to be able to have time to review a bill,” she said.