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Brooks to take leave of absence, avoiding spectacle on Legislature’s first day

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Assemblyman Steven Brooks office sits empty before the start of the 2013 legislative session Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 in Carson City. Brooks will be sworn in and then take a leave of absence to address medical issues.

Updated Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 | 5:36 p.m.

2013 Legislative Session - Assemblyman Brooks

Assemblyman Steven Brooks is sworn in along with the rest of the assembly on the first day of the 2013 legislative session Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 in Carson City. Launch slideshow »

Embattled Assemblyman Steven Brooks was sworn in today in Carson City and was still negotiating the terms of a leave of absence late in the afternoon, as legislative leaders did their best to avoid a distracting spectacle on the Legislature’s opening day.

"He asked for a leave of absence for medical reasons," Assembly Speaker-elect Marilyn Kirkpatrick said Monday morning, adding later in the day that the terms were still being discussed.

Moments before the opening session was gaveled in, Brooks briefly arrived on the Assembly floor with several family members. He shook hands with colleagues, had a short chat with Assemblyman Andrew Martin and then said, "Let's go."

He and his small entourage, accompanied by Legislative Counsel Bureau director Rick Combs, then left the floor.

Brooks returned to the floor after a private meeting with Kirkpatrick, but said little to reporters.

"I'm busy right now," he said. "There's the speaker; why don't you go take her picture?"

Kirkpatrick then arrived and shoed the press away so the session could get started.

In an earlier interview, Kirkpatrick said the Assembly Democratic caucus met Sunday night, where Brooks apologized to Kirkpatrick. She said she accepted the apology.

She said there is precedence to the leave of absence, comparing it to maternity leave. But Combs said no formal process has ever been implemented for extended leaves of absence. Nevada law is silent on whether or not a lawmaker actually has to show up for work.

Brooks, a fellow Democrat from North Las Vegas, was arrested last month on a count of threatening a public official, Kirkpatrick. More recently, he was taken by Las Vegas police for a psychiatric evaluation. His last appearance at the Legislature, late last month, featured him in a hoodie, offering a "no comment" and the peace sign to reporters after arranging housing in Carson City.

His leave of absence would diffuse a potentially tense opening of the first day of the Legislative Session, where lawmakers bring their families for a ceremonial day filled with promises of bipartisan cooperation.

Kirkpatrick said a committee formed to determine whether Brooks is fit to serve will move forward. Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, will head that committee. Kirkpatrick said the committee would serve to set the process for any future situations.

"We wish him well," she said, saying she looks forward to tackling the issues in the state.

In brief remarks on the Assembly Floor, Brooks thanked God and his aunt and "Uncle Wayne." He also paid his respects to Kirkpatrick.

"All praise be to God to be here today," he said. "Thank you, Madam Speaker, and congratulations. You are going to serve us well."

He closed by saying: "Now let's change the world as we know it in the state of Nevada."

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