Counties meet deadline to ask for legislation in 2001

Carson City, and Lyon and Douglas counties each met today's deadline to submit two bill draft requests each for the 2001 Legislature, some of which could have statewide implications.

Since voters imposed a 120-day limit for legislative sessions two years ago, the Legislature reduced the number of bills counties may ask for from five to two.

If a county needs more legislation or misses the Sept. 1 deadline, it may still submit bills through a legislator until Dec. 15, said Mary Walker, lobbyist for Carson City, Douglas and Lyon counties.

"All three were able to put ideas forward," said Walker, adding that working together made some bill draft requests better. "It's not so much duplication but expansion of an idea."

Walker said the two-year-old bill draft rules improved the quality of bills requested. In exchange for fewer drafts from counties, the Nevada Association of Counties may submit more requests, up to 20, on behalf of counties.

With NACO rising to the forefront, similar bills that several counties may have submitted on their own are now submitted by NACO as one bill after compromises are negotiated among the interested counties.

Carson City's two bill draft requests deal with routine city charter amendments and establishing a funding source for transit and storm drainage. The city is seeking the state's approval to raise the fuel tax or sales tax to pay for transit, Walker said.

Lyon County's two requests each deal with increasing the number of members on the Regional Transportation Commission and the Lyon County Fair and Recreation Board. These boards are being expanded in anticipation of Fernley becoming an incorporated city.

The transportation commission would increase from three to five members: two county commissioners, two city representatives (Yerington, Fernley) and a resident at large. The fair board would increase from five to seven members: two from the cities, two hotel/motel operators, one commercial business person, one county commissioner and one resident at large.

Douglas County's two bill draft requests have statewide implications for rural counties. Douglas is asking to increase airport leases from 50 years to 99 years to present a more attractive economic development tool, Walker said.

Douglas will also ask to make design-build regulations a realistic option for rural counties. Design-build is a big-city concept that allows governments to hire a team of architects, engineers and contractors with one contract rather than having to go to the low bidder for each.

Current law only allows design-build in rural Nevada counties on projects in excess of $30 million. Carson City has never had a $30 million construction project and neither have nearly any rural counties in the state.

If passed, the Douglas proposal would allow rural counties to enter into design-build contracts for one project a year valued at between $1 million and $7.5 million.

The three counties together, through NACO, are asking for clarification on how long the term is for county commission chairmen. The law is silent on the matter. Some commissions have one-year chairs, some two-year chairs.

The counties are asking for specific language to allow the county commissioners to determine how long a chairman serves, Walker said.


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