Las Vegas Sun

August 25, 2019

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Relationship between Gibbons, Raggio shows strain on Day 2

Raggio Fires Back

Sam Morris

Sen. Bill Raggio answers reporters’ questions after delivering a statement on the floor of the Senate during the second day of the legislative special session Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 in Carson City. In the statement, Raggio pushed back against attacks made against him Tuesday by Gov. Jim Gibbons. Asked afterward if he respected Gibbons, Raggio said, “I respect that office. I always will.”

Special Session - Day 2

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The second day of the special session got off to a rancorous start, with the relationship between Gov. Jim Gibbons and the Legislature continuing its downward spiral.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, took aim at Gibbons over comments the governor made Tuesday, saying the longtime Republican lawmaker was not showing up to meetings on the budget shortfall.

"Either the governor's memory is failing or he has been misinformed, or he is intentionally distorting the facts," Raggio said on the floor of the Senate this morning.

Tuesday, the first day of the session, saw the Senate and Assembly hold public hearings about the governor's proposals to close the state's $887 million deficit. After Gibbons' senior staff faced tough questions from lawmakers, similar to those that had been asked in legislative hearings prior to the session, Gibbons ordered two of his senior staffers to leave the Legislative Building. His spokesman, Dan Burns, said that lawmakers were berating and badgering the senior staff.

This morning, Budget Director Andrew Clinger was back testifying in front of the Assembly. But Gibbons' spokesman warned legislators to be respectful. "If staff is treated with courtesy, the governor has no problem," Burns said. If not, "the governor will summon them back. They will not be berated."

The lawmakers have budgeted $250,000 for a four-day session, but progress in public meetings and closed-door huddles among leadership has been minimal, according to sources in those gatherings. The back-and-forth between lawmakers and the governor also bodes ill for a speedy end to the session.

The strained relationship with the governor increases the likelihood of a gubernatorial veto of parts of any legislative package. More ominously, it increases the chance that the governor or Legislature will take some procedural issue to the Nevada Supreme Court. (Under the constitution, the governor sets the agenda for special sessions. But how much latitude that leaves lawmakers in what action the Legislature takes has never been tested in the courts.)

On Tuesday's "Nevada Newsmakers" political talk show, Gibbons attacked Raggio.

"Over the course of the past several months, we have given them every chance, including Sen. Raggio, including Sen. (Steven) Horsford, and all of the members of the Legislature, to meet with me and see what is going on with the budget," Gibbons said, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

"We have briefed them time and time again in my office here in Carson and in Las Vegas," Gibbons said. "We have gone over to listen to their ideas. We have worked together through this process so it has surprised me that Bill Raggio has never showed up at most of these meetings."

Raggio said there were eight meetings prior to the session between the governor's staff and legislators. He said of the three meetings in the governor's office Gibbons was present at two. He was absent from the other five meetings, which were held in the Legislative Building.

"I don't understand why he wants to pick a fight we me — unless it's for political reasons because I am supporting his primary opponent," Brian Sandoval, Raggio said from the floor. He noted that he worked with six previous governors. "This troubles me, because I've always respected that office."

Asked afterward if he respected Gibbons, he said, "I respect that office. I always will."

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