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August 28, 2015

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Assembly delays vote on Brooks ouster

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Assemblyman Steven Brooks gets a thumbs up from Assemblyman Harvey Munford after talking with him before a floor session Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 during the 2013 legislative session in Carson City.

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Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick takes part in a Ways and Means Committee meeting on the second day of the 2013 legislative session Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 in Carson City.

Assembly Democrats continued to struggle late Wednesday with making an unprecedented decision on whether to oust fellow Democratic lawmaker Assemblyman Steven Brooks, delaying for at least a day a formal vote on the Select Committee's recommendation to expel him from the Legislature.

After meeting in a private caucus meeting with Democratic lawmakers, Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, emerged to say legislators need more time to consider their decision.

"We may or may not," she said when asked whether the matter will come to a vote Thursday. "We're not there yet."

The indecision comes after a committee of three Republicans and four Democrats recommended Brooks' ouster following a three-hour hearing behind closed doors late Tuesday. In that meeting, the Select Committee reviewed two 25-page investigation reports and nearly 900 pages of backup material gathered by independent counsel Mark Ferrario.

Those reports have remained confidential and have not been shared with the public or with the lawmakers not on the Select Committee. The secrecy surrounding the proceedings has concerned both Republican and Democratic lawmakers who are contemplating Brooks' fate.

A two-thirds majority vote is needed to expel a member.

Since the beginning of the year, Brooks has been arrested twice — once on accusations he threatened Kirkpatrick and a second time on charges of domestic battery and resisting an officer. He has also be involuntarily detained for a psychiatric evaluation, denied the purchase of a rifle by state authorities and kicked out of a Reno casino for causing a disturbance. Brooks also has exhibited erratic behavior at the Legislature before leaders made the decision to ban him from the building.

Kirkpatrick pointed out that information, which has been widely reported by news outlets in the past three months, is largely what lawmakers are using to form an opinion on whether to oust him.

"You've put a lot of information out there," Kirkpatrick told reporters after the caucus meeting. "Do (lawmakers) have to at some point trust their colleagues? We trust our colleagues all day long every day."

Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, who chaired the select committee, said leadership will give Democrats time to come to a decision.

"This is not a caucus issue," Horne said. "This is an issue that everybody is going to have their own conscience to have to dial into. They are going to be able to make their own decision on this. So we are giving them time to do that and find their comfort level."

He added that no confidential information has been shared with lawmakers outside the Select Committee.

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