Las Vegas Sun

December 1, 2015

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Committee formed to eliminate obsolete commissions has mixed first meeting

A legislative subcommittee created to find useless state boards and commissions to eliminate had mixed results during its first work session today.

The state Gaming Policy Committee, headed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, was in the crosshairs — it hasn't met in years — but survived an initial motion to junk it. Sandoval has scheduled a meeting of the policy committee for Wednesday to discuss Internet gambling.

Frank Partlow of the Sunset Subcommittee suggested the gaming committee be eliminated. But subcommittee member David Goldwater said that "in deference to Governor Sandoval, we should consider eliminating it at a later date."

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said Internet gambling is a big issue. She said the policy board was formed to deal with gaming enterprise zones. If the policy committee is eliminated, there must be a way to protect those gaming enterprise zones, she said.

The subcommittee will consider the fate of the policy board in May. The subcommittee can only make recommendations to the full Legislative Commission that is under no obligation to introduce their suggestions at the 2013 Legislature.

The subcommittee also voted Tuesday to continue the state Commission on Postsecondary Education and the Well Driller's Advisory Board. But it accepted a recommendation from Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, that it write a letter to the state engineer to meet with the well driller's board and the state Contractors Board to eliminate any overlap in their duties.

Meanwhile, a parade of witnesses asked the subcommittee to eliminate the controversial state Wildlife Commission. The witnesses, many of them opposed to the hunting of black bears authorized by the commission, said the public is ignored at the meetings.

"Disgruntled citizens are not heard by the board," Chris Schwamberger, a Reno lawyer speaking for No Bear Hunt Nevada, told the subcommittee.

The commission is outdated and the wildlife department and commission should be consolidated with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Schwamberger said.

A number of groups — including representatives of the Bears League, Trail Safe Nevada, the Nevada Humane Society and the Las Vegas Humane Society — all spoke in favor of the proposed consolidation.

If the wildlife department and commission are not consolidated, the makeup of the wildlife commission should be changed, witnesses said. They argued the nine-member commission is heavily weighted with hunters and sportsmen with only one public representative.

Carlton said the commission "has been a lightning rod for the past several years." While she knows the passion of the hunters, she said "the department belongs to all the people of Nevada, not just the hunters."

The department and the board receive 98 percent of their funding from fees, licenses and federal grants.

The legislative subcommittee said it would take action on the suggestions at a later date. But any recommendation would be sent to the Legislative Commission.

The subcommittee probably won't have any problem at its future meeting making a recommendation on the future of the Nevada Commission on Sports. The subcommittee failed to reach the sports commission after several efforts to notify it of the meeting.

Goldwater said while he was in the Legislature he was on the sports commission for eight years and it never met. He said it was apparently formed to bring the Winter Olympics to Northern Nevada.

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