Nevada legislators are debating whether the state should keep the door open to withdrawing from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The Nevada Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources heard Senate Bill 229 for the first time in Carson City on Tuesday. The committee did not take a vote on the proposed legislation that would repeal 2011’s SB 271.
SB 271 allows the Nevada governor to withdrawal from the TRPA’s Compact in October 2015 if certain conditions, including passage of a new regional plan and changes to the TRPA Governing Board’s voting structure, aren’t met.
Nevada TRPA Governing Board member Steve Robinson, like several of the opponents of SB 229, argued the specter of the state pulling out of the regional planning agency was critical starting a dialogue between Nevada and California that led to the passage of an updated regional plan in December. The plan had not been updated for more than 25 years prior to the long-awaited approval.
Robinson said that, while withdrawal from the TRPA remains a remote possibility, the state should keep the door open to the option to ensure California continues to collaborate.
“It should remain in the governor’s hands,” Robinson said.
Proponents of SB 229 urged legislators to pass the bill, saying a collaborative effort by both states is necessary to protect Lake Tahoe. Despite litigation surrounding the new regional plan, the surge in collaboration surrounding management of the lake can continue without the threat of Nevada leaving the planning agency, said Kyle Davis, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League.
Changing the TRPA Compact, which would be required to change the voting structure of the Governing Board, requires approval from both states, as well as the U.S. Congress and the president. Davis said he was concerned protection of the lake could be held up by the requested changes that are unlikely to happen.
Although SB 271 allows for an extension of the possible withdrawal to 2017, opponents of the SB 271 have urged legislators to repeal the bill during this legislative session, contending a last-minute withdraw presents a danger to the lake.
Several supporters of SB 271 said it’s too soon to see whether the updated regional plan will have the desired effect of meeting the TRPA’s environmental goals, while also allowing improvements that have been bogged down by previous rules.