Jacobsen feels AB616 could have been killed; story not over yet
As the memory of the 69th session of the Nevada State Legislature begins to fade, some may be wondering exactly what happened that will affect Douglas County and its surrounding areas.
The bill causing the largest commotion in Douglas County is AB616, which cuts the amount of room taxes Carson Valley will receive.
“It was the most disastrous,” said Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden.
“I think it’s a rape of Douglas County,” he said, “for one segment to dominate the rest of it all for gaming.”
“I don’t think the legislature should tell Douglas County how to allocate their funds. That’s a local issue,” he said. “I don’t think the legislature has the right to take county money. I just don’t think it was well thought out.”
Jacobsen said he was approached by colleagues after it was passed and was told they could have killed it early on.
“I kind of blame myself,” he said. “If I would have known there was enough support to kill it, it might have been stopped.
“I think if we (Jacobsen and Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville) would have got our act together and played our cards right, we could have beat them. We could have beat them if we would have gone together.”
Hettrick was involved in the negotiations of the bill, trying to prevent the county from splitting in two, while Jacobsen was opposed to the bill entirely.
“The impact of this is a long way down the road,” Hettrick said. said. “The concerns need to be addressed now, and we need to plan for what the future will bring.”
“I don’t think the story has ended,” Jacobsen said. “I think down the road somewhere, some portion of that (AB616) will be unconstitutional.”
Jacobsen said he was very impressed with the involvement of the Douglas County School Board members in trying to prevent the split between Tahoe and Douglas, and thinks that it could have some impact on fighting the unconstitutionality of AB616.
“I was really impressed with the school board,” he said. “They were tenacious. Cheri Johnson, she was first class.”
He said it shows it is possible to win if people speak out.
Hettrick presented three bills in this legislative session: AB190, AB198 and AB594.
“Those are the bills I think will have specific impact on Douglas County,” he said.
“AB190 and AB594 changed the laws in regard to river bank clearing and allowed for matching funds,” Hettrick said.
AB190 allows for a fund of $250,000 to be available for channel clearance, surveying and marking boundaries.
“It will allow us to maintain these river banks better and not end up in the situation we were last January,” he said.
Hettrick referred to problems experienced with fallen trees and damage to riverbeds caused by the flooding earlier this year.
“We’re hopeful these bills will eliminate some of these problems,” he said.
AB198 changed a previous law which allows a county commission to impose a tax on residential construction in order to provide for changes to schools. The bill changes the amount able to be collected from $1,000 to $1,600.
Along with these three bills, Hettrick was a driving force in getting $150,000 donated to Western Nevada Community College to finish the Douglas campus.
Among the many things Jacobsen was involved with in this session was a $710,000 multipurpose center for China Spring approved, along with a northern Nevada fire training center in Carson for firemen in 20 different agencies to train under actual conditions. This center will cost $610,000.
He said over $40 million went into education for the state this session, none of which will be used for construction.
“I think education fared better than any other subject,” he said. “In fact, I think we overboarded.”
SB128 was a bill that Jacobsen followed. This bill keeps the records of who is carrying a concealed weapon private, unless a crime is committed by the carrier.
“I believe in that,” he said. “If you once make it public information, that’s the beginning of gun control. Being a hunter and outdoorsman, I think that’s a God-given right to be able to go hunting. The right to carry is a special privilege, and by the same token, the sheriff has a right to take away that right.”
Undersheriff Ron Pierini was the sponsor for this bill.
Jacobsen said his greatest accomplishment was getting approval for a 188-bed veterans’ hospital in Las Vegas.
“My number one priority was the vets’ home in Las Vegas,” he said.
The new facility will receive $6.5 million from the state and $12.5 million from the federal government, Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen said this session was completely different from previous ones because of all the new faces in the Assembly.
“I think it was also different because we had some money in the bank,” he said. “One thing that was apparent was no new taxes.”
“I think the session worked harder, especially towards the end. We were trying to cram things into one time.”
“Unfortunately, it moved rather slowly at the beginning,” Hettrick said. He said this was because of two reasons.
“One was the new building,” he said.
The construction on the Legislative building was supposed to be finished before the session began but it was running behind and caused some problems and confusions.
“Two was that the computer company wouldn’t get the work done,” he said. “That put us way behind on the bill drafting.”
“The new building caused some problems. It was supposed to be user-friendly, and I don’t think that’s true,” Jacobsen said.
“Some of the new technology was one of our worst nightmares. Whenever the computers were down, we were out of business.
“One of the biggest drawbacks was no blackboards. We couldn’t keep track of everything that had gone on. There was no track record.”
Hettrick said there was a noticeable difference in the atmosphere this year compared to the previous session.
“It just was a fun session last time,” he said. “This one was more of individuals going their own way. It wasn’t as comfortable and didn’t have the same feeling as people working together.”