Nevada Legislature: Local governments see chance for more home rule
February 9, 2015
Nevada state senators were urged on Monday to oppose a plan giving local governments more autonomy in handling certain issues currently controlled by the state.
Spokesmen for industry, homebuilders and trucking all said they rely heavily on consistency from local government to local government and the proposed legislation could result in widely different rules for a variety of businesses.
"Uniformity is important to us, especially since we cross multiple jurisdictions daily," said Paul Enos of the Nevada Trucking Association.
He was joined by Ray Bacon of the Nevada Manufacturers Association who said there have been instances where local jurisdictions attempted to ban trucks from roadways that service industrial parks. Bacon said those bans would have seriously impacted manufacturers.
Reno developer Greg Peek said the rule which centralizes local government decision making under state control "provides meaningful checks and balances" builders can rely on.
He said Nevada has a good climate for business "because we do have consistency across the state." He said Senate Bill 11 releasing some of that authority to local jurisdictions could seriously compromise that consistency.
The bill was brought by Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, who said it has nothing to do with raising or creating new taxes, service charges or fees. He said it would simply allow local governments to have control over "functional" issues without having to wait for the Legislature to fix a problem.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is about functional home rule, not financial," he said.
"Everything that's is in statute today doesn't go away. There's nothing in this bill that reverses anything."
Wes Henderson of the Nevada League of Cities and Jeff Fontaine of the Nevada Association of Counties both said it would simply allow local governments to respond to changing needs and issues much more rapidly than they can now.
"I would call this bill common sense home rule," said former Sen. Warren Hardy, now representing the city of Mesquite.
Fontaine said as an example that it made no sense local government had to ask legislative permission to ban jail prisoners from having cell phones.
Carole Vilardo of the Nevada Taxpayers Association said that organization has supported functional home rule in the past.
Goicoechea said he was willing to work with the different parties to ensure the legislation is tightened up enough to relieve opponents' concerns. He pointed out that similar measures have passed the Nevada Senate in both the 2011 and 2013 sessions before stalling in the Assembly.
The committee took no action on the bill on Monday.