Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2017

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New rule requires training course for lobbyists

All lobbyists at the 2013 Legislature will be required for the first time to attend a training course before they can present their case or try to influence lawmakers.

The Legislative Commission has adopted a rule making it mandatory. In the past, it was voluntary.

“Basically, it’s an ethics thing,” ordered by the leadership in the Legislature, said Rick Combs, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau. It will deal what can and cannot be done in dealing with lawmakers, he said.

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, a member of the commission, said the legal staff of the Legislature will review ethical behavior, financial reporting and “general professionalism.”

He said there were problems in the past session with lobbyists reporting their expenditures on time.

Lobbyists can attend the two-hour class or certify they have watched a video of the training. The Legislature will ask that lawyers-lobbyists be allowed to use this training to fulfill part of their annual continuing legal education.

The training session will be Jan. 9.

As of Friday, 99 paid lobbyists and 23 unpaid lobbyists have registered. The numbers are expected to increase substantially as the Legislature's Feb. 4 start date nears. At the 2011 Legislature, there were more than 300 paid and unpaid lobbyists.

In 2011, the registration fee for a paid lobbyist was increased from $100 to $300, but the unpaid lobbyist fee remained $20.

Besides adopting the mandatory training for lobbyists, the Legislative Commission last week approved a budget of $56.6 million for the coming two fiscal years. That’s 0.4 percent lower than the current biennium and 4.9 percent below the 2009-11 spending.

Combs said the commission followed the direction of Gov. Brian Sandoval to present a flat budget for the next biennium. The proposed budget does not include restoration of the cut in pay and benefits for legislative workers.

The budget does not include any state money for out-of-state travel for lawmakers, which has been the case since the 2009-11 biennium.

Budget savings have been achieved by leaving 31 jobs vacant in the current program. Some of those will be filled by shifting money from other areas.

In addition, Combs will submit a second bill asking for $775,000 to pay dues to such organizations as the National Conferences of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Education Commission of the States.

The bill also will ask for $1 million for one-time building maintenance and information technology purchases.

Combs said these proposed spending bills are submitted for inclusion in the executive budget, which will be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

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