Senator Bryan talks about education, disasters and floods |

Senator Bryan talks about education, disasters and floods

Michael Schneider

As the congressional session draws to a close, Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nevada, spoke via conference call to reporters from newspapers which cover rural Nevada Thursday afternoon.

Bryan commended Douglas County and the school district for two nationally recognized schools. He said it i rare for large counties, never mind one as small as Douglas.

“You should be proud in Douglas County to have two such schools,” said Bryan.

Bryan also addressed flooding concerns in the Carson Valley as the area gears for the first real winter storms.

He said Douglas County and the federal government have learned by last year’s tragedies that there needs to be a clearer definition as to the roles of federal, state and local governments during and after such disasters.

Bryan said he was disappointed that much debate at the state level has pushed back flood diversion improvements to the point where some improvements and repairs will not be made by this winter.

Bryan addressed several issues the Senate and House are dealing with as this year’s session draws to a close. He talked about a proposal to further use Nevada as a storage area for nuclear waste.

Currently it is illegal to store high-level nuclear waste in Nevada due to the passage of Nevada Revised Statute 459, said Joe Strolin, administrator for the planning division for the Nevada agency for nuclear projects.

However it is legal to store low-level nuclear waste in the state, Strolin said.

Bryan said that although both the Senate and House bills target Nevada, there is currently a committee which is attempting to resolve the differences between the bills.

He said that when the final draft is put forward, even if it receives congressional approval, President Clinton will veto it.

“We’ve tried to get enough votes to sustain a presidential veto,” said Bryan, explaining it would take two-thirds of both congressional entities to override Clinton’s veto. “I think we may be within striking distance.

“The challenge we face in the Senate is to get at least 34 votes.”

Bryan explained that 34 votes in the Senate or 246 votes in the House would clinch an upholding of Clinton’s veto.

He said nuclear waste in Nevada is a nonpartisan issue as both Democrats and Republicans are opposed to housing nuclear waste in this state. But, the senator said, in Washington the issue is a leadership priority so it has been pushed quickly through Congress.

He said 80,000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste would pass through many states on its way to Nevada, passing close to more than 51 million Americans.

“It’s a bigger issue than just Nevada,” said Bryan.

Strolin said that if the legislation passes congress and isn’t vetoed, then NRS 459 will be put to constitutional tests to see if it is legal to store the waste in Nevada.

Bryan also discussed Internal Revenue Service reforms for which he said he has pushed for immediate passage.

“All Nevadans would appreciate it if we could get IRS reforms. It would be an early Christmas present,” said Bryan, who added that the bill has already passed the House.

Bryan said Congress could adjourn for the year by Sunday or Monday. If Congress decides to recess for Veteran’s Day, then the session might go through to next weekend.

“We work best when under pressure,” said Bryan. “If we recess, it may take time for our momentum to rebuild.”