Lawmakers fill posts on a dozen interim committees

Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden, is leaving his long-held position on the Marlette Lake Water System Advisory Committee.

Instead, Jacobsen, longest serving legislator in Nevada history, has been named chairman of the continuing Lake Tahoe Oversight Committee.

That makes room for Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, to join the Marlette committee along with Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, and Assemblyman Joe Dini, D-Yerington.

Amodei will also be a member of the Tahoe committee.

Those and other appointments to a dozen different continuing and one-time interim committees were worked out Thursday by the legislative commission.

The lengthiest debate in the four-hour meeting was over membership of a committee to study the death penalty in Nevada and DNA testing practices.

Assemblyman Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, made it clear he wanted on the committee. But Democrats including Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, and Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, preferred longtime Elko Republican John Carpenter.

Nolan went so far as to call Carpenter to get his concurrence before winning a narrow vote to take his place on the panel.

And Amodei suggested several times that, because Sen. Mark James, R-Las Vegas, led the charge to impose a moratorium on executions in Nevada while studying the death penalty, he should be on the study committee. James pushed the study through the Senate, but the moratorium died.

James had earlier deferred to Sen. Bill O'Donnell, R-Las Vegas, but finally agreed to join the study, joking, "OK, I'll do it if we can have a moratorium we can get out of the Senate."

O'Donnell finished the session with a filibuster designed to kill legislation balancing the budget and in a fight with Gov. Kenny Guinn over whether legislators should create a committee to oversee the transportation department. He asked to be a member of 16 interim committees.

Since then, he announced he won't seek re-election and bitterly denounced the leadership of Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno.

When the voting was done, O'Donnell didn't receive a single interim committee assignment.

In addition to the ongoing review of Tahoe's situation and the death penalty, studies to be completed before the 2003 Legislature include a review of misdemeanors and the various penalties imposed for them, competition between local governments and private enterprise in providing certain goods and services, suicide prevention and services to the disabled.

There are other ongoing statutory studies as well, including health care, public lands and local government taxes and finances.

The Legislative Commission agreed to a major addition to the Public Lands Committee's responsibilities, creating a Wilderness Subcommittee to review and recommend which portions of BLM land in Nevada should or should not be considered for designation as wilderness areas.

Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, told the commission some 4.4 million areas of BLM land in Nevada are considered wilderness study areas but that no congressional action has occurred since passage of the wilderness act in 1964 to make any of those designations official.

He said Nevada's congressional delegation has consistently said they will process federal wilderness legislation for Nevada only after they are presented with some consensus on which areas should be included.

"The goal of the subcommittee is to begin developing this consensus by bringing the interested parties together in an effective, balanced and comfortable forum," he said.

The commission created a six member committee including Rhoads and financed it with a $40,000 budget.

Budgets for the other study committees are mostly $7,400 except the Tahoe Compact review at $9,520, the government-business competition study at $9,700 and the death penalty study at $11,540.

All are charged with preparing reports and recommendations in time for the 2003 Legislature.


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