The 77th Session of the Nevada Legislature is in the books and preparation is already underway for the 78th Session in 2015. So how well did Southern Nevada’s legislators heed regional interests and advance priorities important to the local electorate?
In a new report for Brookings Mountain West, UNLV political scientist and Brookings Institution scholar David Damore breaks down the 77th Session by analyzing bills relevant to Southern Nevada and presenting context on key legislation that emerged. He then tracks legislator behavior by examining the timing of bill introductions, their movement through committees, and final votes - tagging the outcome of each bill using terms such as “passed,” “weakened,” or “gutted.”
“One of the most important lessons from the 2013 session is that without Southern Nevadans controlling the levers of legislative power, equitable state investment in the region will continue to be delayed and reforms to Nevada’s outmoded governance institutions will be obstructed,” Damore writes in the report. “While the burden is always greater for those challenging the status quo, for Nevada to fulfill its potential the region must have investment commensurate with its population and contribution to the state's economy, while being given the autonomy to develop its assets and resources."
Damore also recommends priorities for Southern Nevada legislators to consider during the 78th Session in 2015, including:
- Reforming state boards and commissions to ensure proportionate regional representation on panels overseeing state agencies
- Taking a stronger look at funding for K-12 education, allocating resources for low income and at-risk students, gifted and talented students, and ELL programs
- Advocating for resources related to the proposed Interstate 11 and the UNLVNow project, critical infrastructure projects for regional economic development
- Securing resources for a UNLV medical school to boost healthcare capacity and add a key asset needed for economic diversification and development
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 27,000 students and 2,900 faculty and staff. Founded in 1957, the university offers more than 220 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs. UNLV is located on a 332-acre campus in dynamic Southern Nevada and is classified in the category of Research Universities (high research activity) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.