By Lucia Starbuck and Bob Conrad | Video by Don Dike Anukam
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The second 2020 special session of the Nevada Legislature began today with Republicans in both houses accusing Democrats of foul play.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak called the session after 5 p.m. yesterday. The proclamation came after uncertainty about the start date that had legislators already in the capital and ready to meet.
“I again look forward to collaborating with Nevada legislators to meet the challenges that are unfortunately before us,” Sisolak said. “In order to protect the time necessary to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, my expectation is that this special session will be thorough and as efficient as possible.”
Sisolak said the focus of the session is to address criminal and social justice policy reform, unemployment and business protections, and voting rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rule changes criticized
Senate Republicans accused Democrats of suppressing “the voice of minority representation and further [consolidating] power in the hands of the majority party.” Democrats hold a majority in both legislative houses.
Among the rule changes is Rule 37, which, Republicans said, singles out the Senate Majority Leader as the person empowered to request amendments to legislation.
“It’s clear that unilateral control over the executive and legislative branches of government is simply not enough power for Nevada Democrats,” said Senator James Settelmeyer (R-Gardnerville). “These rule changes cast aside the standards of legislative process that have been in place since statehood because the majority party can’t be bothered to respect the traditions of the Nevada Senate.”
Republican spokesperson Jessica Hanson said in media interviews before the start of the session that the party filed a complaint against Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro for an “election integrity violation.”
The complaint alleges Cannizzaro “circumvented the contribution limits by utilizing a political action committee to ‘make a contribution to a committee for political action with the knowledge and intent that the (PAC) will contribute that money to a specific candidate which, in combination with the total contributions already made by the person for the same election would violate the limitations on contributions.’”
Prior to the first special session, the state government employees union contributed more than $250,000 to democratic lawmakers, including through political action committees.
Democratic representatives were not available for comment.
Feature Image: State Senate Minority Leader James Settlemyer on Friday, July 31, 2020 during the first day of the 32nd Special Session of the Legislature in Carson City. (Pool Photo by David Calvert/Nevada Independent)