With less than a month left in Nevada's 2017 Legislative Session, lawmakers still have to pass nearly 400 bills and an eight billion dollar state budget. Democrats have touted success in the passage of many of their priorities, but for Republicans, the session has been the most partisan in recent memory. Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson caught up with our political reporter Paul Boger about the final month of the session.
"We've got less than 40 days left to close a budget, to close issues on partisan and nonpartisan levels. These next 10 days are significant in the overall spectrum of how session ends, where it should end and how we get things closed down."
I'm curious, how are you bridging that partisan divide or that gap, if you will?
"It's been tough because we look at how our relationships are versus how the bills have been passed. We see a significant amount of Democrat-sponsored bills being passed. Only 10 percent of Republican-sponsored bills [are] being passed, less than 10 percent. We are rounding up to 10 percent just to be cordial.
I think that's important. The last time was very different. In 2015, where we had a significant majority in both the House and Senate and Governor's Office [sic], we were literally at a 50-45 threshold of what got passed. We went through a mentality of we don't have all of the best ideas and we can work together and come up with some better ideas. This session has been more partisan than I've been in, frankly in the three sessions I've been to plus the four special sessions I've been through.
I think that will take some time though as we work. Speaker Frierson [is] certainly up to the discussions. [He's] a guy that wants to work on good policies and I believe he's sincere in those efforts."
Your counterpart in the Senate has essentially said that a lot of the bills from this session are rolling back bills passed in 2015. Do you think that's accurate? Do you think the state is moving forward at all?
"There are some that are significant rollbacks and we won't stand for that. We will be caucus no's, meaning all the republicans will vote no. We'll signal to the Governor that we certainly hope for veto’s on things that are repeals.
That doesn't mean that we don't need to fix some tweaks or some small, technical details from 2015. Coming up with significant reforms things that were literally foundational and historical that means in a couple years you're going to find out well maybe we need to tweak it just a little bit. That's something we can support, but a complete rollback of the reforms that we did in 2015 is simply not acceptable.
I think that as we look at moving forward, we've got a limited number of days where we've got a budget now. That becomes very much the priority. All the other bills are attached to the budget. When you look at the last few weeks of the session, a lot of the normal policy committees start wrapping up their business and those bills wind up in Ways -- which right now we're at $3 billion worth of bills that have ended up in Ways from both houses. That's significant, [there] are constitutional limits that we are looking at.
We are limited to a balanced budget. We cannot overspend. We cannot print our own money. We're not the federal government, which is very good for Nevadans and something that we certainly uphold to. I think the other piece of that is that the priories are set that we know what we can spend. If we can spend below that that's even better, but if we are going to spend up to that max, we need to make sure that we've got our priorities intact."