GOVERNOR’S OFFICE NEWS RELEASE
CARSON CITY – Governor Jim Gibbons today announced the Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative (Open Public Employee Negotiations) petition has survived its challenge period and is moving forward with signature collection. The initiative petition amends the Nevada Revised Statutes to subject public employee union negotiations to Nevada’s Open Meeting Law.
“All around Nevada hundreds of hard working public servants are losing their jobs because their union leaders will not re-open their contracts and accept salary reductions and benefits adjustments,” Gibbons said. “We are losing talented government workers to the unemployment rolls. Unions have a stranglehold on local government, and it’s time for that to stop. Collective bargaining involving public funds must be open to the public. Secret backroom deals between public employee unions and state and local governments must stop. The people of Nevada should expect no less from their government.”
The Committee has until November 9, 2010 to gather the 97,002 necessary valid signatures from Nevada’s three Congressional districts to place the petition initiative before the 2011 Nevada Legislature. Should the initiative petition not be approved by the Legislature, it will go forward to a vote of the people in the 2012 general election.
“My office has been flooded with calls from people who want to help circulate petitions and enact this initiative into law. Please contact us now as we move quickly forward to gather signatures,” Gibbons said.
Governor Gibbons has set up a special e-mail address to contact the OPEN Government Initiative at [email protected] . A web site will follow in the next few weeks. Those without e-mail access can call 775-684-5670 or send a letter to P.O. Box 4807, Carson City, NV 89702.
Governor Gibbons twice tried during the 26th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature to have legislators amend laws relating to government collective bargaining – first, to remove collective bargaining and second, to make negotiations involving public unions and public funds subject to Nevada’s Open Meeting Law. A major effort to pass this reform was made by the Assembly Republican caucus, but Democrat legislative leadership refused to even introduce the proposals despite Governor Gibbons including these items on the Governor’s official calls to session. The Governor is the only state officer under Nevada’s Constitution who has the authority to call a special session of the Nevada Legislature and set its agenda.
“It’s time for the people of Nevada to step up and do what their elected Democrat legislators will not, and that is provide for accountability in public spending,” Gibbons said.
Currently, state law exempts collective bargaining negotiations from the Open Meeting Law. Generally, between 70 to 80 percent of a local government or school district budget is spent on personnel, making most local government spending hidden from the public view. Generally, except for these union negotiations, no other spending of public funds is allowed to be done outside of an open public meeting.
The Steering Committee for the Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative includes Governor Gibbons, Nevada Republican Party Chairman and State Senator Mark Amodei, former State Senator Bob Beers, and Republican Party Executive Director Cory Adair.