Monday, Nov. 8, 2010 | 11:28 a.m.
CARSON CITY – It’s going to cost the state more money but the Democratic leadership in the Nevada Senate is trying a new wrinkle in hiring its secretary to oversee the processing of bills in the upcoming Legislature.
David Byerman, of Las Vegas, has been named the secretary of the Senate, the first time anybody from Southern Nevada has held the job.
“It’s something new and we haven’t done it before,” says Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
Byerman will be the only temporary employee hired for the 2011 session that will qualify for permanent travel and per diem allowances.
He will earn $154 per day for lodging and meals during the 120-day session, which is the federal rate.
If he returns to Las Vegas for weekends, he will not qualify for per diem but will be reimbursed for his plane fare.
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who hired Byerman, said there were 200 applications for the job and a committee narrowed it to 13 finalists.
“We felt he was the most qualified regardless of where he resided, Horsford said. He said all factors were considered, including cost and expenses.
He said directors in the executive branch live in Las Vegas and are paid per diem when they travel to Carson City for such things as meetings or budget reviews. In his past job, Byerman headed the census count in Nevada.
Byerman says he has spent about half of his time in Carson City hiring workers for the 2011 Legislature and meeting with staff.
He is reimbursed for his travel from Las Vegas, his per diem while in Carson City and his car rental. When the secretary was local, those expenses were not needed.
Malkiewich says the majority of state senators live in the Las Vegas area so Byerman will be available after the Legislature closes and he finishes his work on journals.
“With the population shift, Senator Horsford wanted to try this,” Malkiewich said.
The salary is $100,000 a year, the same as the chief clerk in the Assembly.
Byerman says he is using common sense to minimize the costs. For instance, Southwest Airlines made a special offer of $30 fares for one way between Las Vegas and Reno.
He says he arranged his schedule to fit that timetable and then loaded up on the reduced fares. The fare might ordinarily be $150 each way, he said.
Byerman replaces Claire Jesse Clift of Carson City, who was not reappointed by Horsford.
His travel and per diem records so far show $5,741 spent. But $1,931 went for a trip to Milwaukee to attend the American Society of Clerks and Legislative Secretaries. Malkiewich said anybody who was hired would have chalked up that expense.
And $677 of the total was to buy advance airline tickets at a discounted rate, according to the travel records.
In his job, Byerman is in charge of processing the bills in the Senate and supervising staff.