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Governor’s open government plan to move forward in Legislature

By ThisIsReno

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE NEWS RELEASE

CARSON CITY — Governor Jim Gibbons today announced that his OPEN Government Plan will be introduced as a bill during the 2011 session of the Nevada Legislature. The OPEN Government Plan would change Nevada law so public employee union negotiations would be subject to Nevada’s Open Meeting Law. This would allow taxpayers the opportunity to observe union negotiations and see how their tax money is spent. Currently, public union negotiations are held behind closed doors.

“We must stop the secret backroom deals between public employee unions and state and local governments,” Gibbons said, “Collective bargaining involving public funds should be open to the public.”

The Governor had organized a committee to gather the required number of signatures to force the issue to go before the Legislature. These efforts have been suspended because certain legislators have agreed to introduce a bill and support the issue. “I want to thank all those who helped gather signatures and those who signed the OPEN Government petition,” Governor Gibbons said, “I also want to thank the members of the Nevada State Senate who support my position and have agreed to move forward with the Plan.” Nevada State Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness says the Senate’s Republican Caucus will take up the Plan.

Currently, state law exempts collective bargaining negotiations from the Open Meeting Law. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of a local government or school district budget is spent on personnel, making most local government contract negotiations hidden from the public view. Generally, except for these union negotiations, no other negotiations involving public funds are allowed to be done outside of an open public meeting.