Nevada’s 75th Legislative Session Wraps-Up

I don’t think there is anyone who would say that this year’s legislative Session was boring by any means. Truthfully, I’ve never seen or been a part of a legislative session that was–it’s always interesting and sometimes entertaining!Nevada’s 75th Legislative Session turned into one of the most important legislative sessions since 2003, when then Governor Kenny Guinn had to sign an $800 million dollar tax increase. I was fortunate enough to be serving my Public Service Internship in Governor Guinn’s office during the 2003 legislative session. One of the most remarkable things I witnessed while serving in Governor Guinn’s office, was his steadfast and unwavering leadership. As a 26 year old, you can’t help but be a little star-struck at watching the Governor walk into the office everyday, but I think I was more amazed at how calm, cool, and collected the Governor was during such a stressful time.

While I sit here thinking about this years session, I can’t help but notice the stark contrast between Governor Kenny Guinn’s leadership and Governor Jim Gibbon’s lack there-of. In many ways, the contrast between these two men truly highlights the difference between true political leadership and unadulterated stubbornness.

I don’t want to spend much time beating up on Governor Gibbons, because there are plenty of folks in the media that are doing a pretty good job at that. The only criticism that I’ll lend to the Governor, is that he shouldn’t have boxed himself into a corner before the legislative session even started. I’ve been around politics long enough to know that you never want to limit your ability to make crucial decisions in order to meet the needs of the people. While I’m extremely against new taxes and the raising of fees (another word for taxes), I do understand that government does serve a purpose and most taxpayers expect their government to provide the services necessary to sustain a viable and functioning community. The Governor’s “no new taxes” pledge, didn’t give him any room to negotiate with legislators on fixing the states budget crisis.

In my analysis of the job our State Legislators have done, I gave them a grade of “B”. Frankly, I didn’t admire the challenges they had facing them; especially Republican Legislators. Many of the GOP members of both houses of the legislature faced wicked and sometimes brutal attacks from the anti-tax lobby, business community, and mean-spirited bloggers. From e-mails, phone-calls, and in your face threats, Republican Legislators were dealt a difficult hand. I must commend many of my fellow Republicans in Carson City, who had to take on the party establishment in order to make important decisions on behalf of Nevadan’s. As an elected official, you’re tasked with making tough and sometimes unpopular decisions–veteran legislators understand this and showed their commitment to Nevadan’s this legislative session.

I wouldn’t be honest if I said I was happy about all the decisions made in Carson City this year. Truth be told, no matter what legislators did this year someone was going to be upset. I remember my Grandfather telling me that I needed to be careful when criticizing someone because I didn’t know what it was like to be in their shoes. I always agreed with that, but in politics, this rule is broken all the time–public policy debates have and always will be contentious.

Finally, I would like to recognize some of fellow Republicans–lawmakers that showed true leadership in the face of adversity.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio: While you were criticized by those who know nothing about the challenges you faced this session, you stayed strong and led your caucus–you showed why so many refer to you as a true statesman. Thank you for your leadership and years of service!

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert: You were high on the list this year of legislators getting beat-up for making tough decisions. I’ve read a lot of the unwarranted criticism that you faced and admire your ability to stay strong. I know your commitment to Nevadan’s is honest and sincere–congratulations on taking the punches, but not letting anyone knock you down.

State Senator Dennis Nolan: Thank you for always being concerned about the safety of Nevadan’s. You consistently address public safety concerns and your leadership in this area is truly appreciated.

Assemblyman Chad Christensen: Your leadership and commitment to education is something that should be recognized. Since you were first elected, you have never wavered in your support for parental choice when it comes to educating their children. Unlike many lawmakers who haven’t been consistent on the issue of education, you have remained a strong advocate for students, teachers, and parents–Thank you!

There are so many others I could recognize for their hard work on behalf of Nevadan’s, and I can only hope I’ll get the chance to thank them individually soon. Just a few more days Senators and Assemblyman and you can take your summer vacation–get some rest!

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