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Bills aim to change municipal elections

Local News

Nevada’s legislature kicks off in just under two months, and legislative lawyers are busy writing the bills that may someday become law. 

As of today, 177 bills have been written, although there will be more than a thousand introduced by the time the 2019 legislature wraps up in June.

Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson hold municipal elections in April and June of the odd-numbered years, immediately following the big even-year contests. But that may change if a bill sought by Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske passes. 

Assembly Bill 50 would shift local city elections throughout the state to the even-year cycle by 2022. Instead of spending extra money for low-turnout contests, local mayors and city council members would appear on the same ballots as presidents, members of congress, the governor and state lawmakers.

Local officials may object, saying it will be harder for them to raise money and get media attention in the crowded even-year election cycle, but participation in local elections would surely go up if those officials were on the ballot in November along with everyone else.

Speaking of elections, there would be fewer of them if Assembly Bill 57 is approved. The measure would see four of the seven school board trustees in large counties appointed by the county commission. Just three members would be elected at large in the county. Currently, all seven members are elected from various districts.

Although the bill doesn’t currently specify job requirements for the appointed members, county commissioners would presumably look for people with experience in education as well as those who have run large, multi-billion dollar organizations.

Christmas is almost here, and it may be the last one that lobbyists can dole out gifts to certain officials. Gifts to state lawmakers are already banned under a bill by then-Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson. But Assembly Bill 40 would extend that ban to members of the executive branch, and to local government officials and their immediate families.

The rule would not apply to educational or informational events, meetings or trips, or to parties that everybody on a local governing board is invited to. Similar exceptions already exist for state lawmakers.

There are plenty more bills to be introduced before the legislature convenes in February. The legislature will have 120 calendar days to tackle everything from gun policy to homeowner’s associations to health care and water rights.

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