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May 22, 2015

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Nevada Territory

Why the Nevada Legislature has until 1 a.m. Tuesday to finish

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CARSON CITY - The Nevada Legislature has, per the Constitution, 120 days to finish the people's business. That would make Monday, June 6, the end of the Nevada 2011 session. Except ...

Except the Nevada Supreme Court, of course.

The distinction between Pacific daylight savings time and Pacific standard time means the Legislature has until 1 a.m. Tuesday to finish its business, according to a 2001 Supreme Court ruling.

The language of the Constitution seems plain:

"Any legislative action taken after midnight Pacific standard time on the 120th calendar day is void, unless the legislative action is conducted during a special session convened by the Governor."

Note "Pacific standard time." Back in 2001, legislators decided to press their luck, went after midnight and passed some bills. The Nevada Supreme Court was asked to decide whether those bills were legally passed. The court decided those bills did pass, according to Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Nevada is now operating on Pacific daylight savings time, not standard time. You move clocks forward one hour in spring. That means in the Nevada Legislature, midnight is 11 p.m. under Pacific standard time. And 1 a.m. on Tuesday is midnight.

This might explain why there seems to be a different clock operating here - a "brief recess" can last an hour or longer, a 9 a.m. meeting can convene at 3 p.m.

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