Nevada State Legislature

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The Nevada State Legislature is the state legislature of Nevada. The Legislature is a bicameral body, consisting of the lower house Nevada Assembly, with 42 members, and the upper house Nevada Senate, with 21 members.

The Legislature meets at the Nevada State Capitol in Carson City.

Legislature defined by law

The Nevada Constitution sets the maximum size of the Legislature at 75 members, and provides that the Senate may not be less than one-third nor more than one-half the size of the Assembly. As of 2007, the number of members for both houses is 63, twelve members below the maximum size as stated in the state constitution.

Senate

The Nevada Senate is the upper house of the Nevada Legislature. The Senate consists of 21 members from 19 districts, two of which are multimember. Each senator represented approximately 94,700 people as of the 2000 census, although 2006 Census Bureau estimates suggest an average population of 118,800 per senator. Senators serve four-year terms. Term limits, limiting senators to three 4-year terms (12 years), will take effect in 2010. Seven senators will be termed out in 2010 and six in 2012.

Like other upper houses of state and territorial legislatures and the federal U.S. Senate, the Senate can confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments to the state cabinet, commissions and boards.

Leadership

The President of the Senate is the body's highest officer, although they only vote in the case of a tie. The Lieutenant Governor of Nevada serves as Senate President. In their absence, the President Pro Tempore presides and has the power to make commission and committee appointments. The President Pro Tempore is elected to the position by the majority party. The other partisan Senate leadership positions, such as the Majority and Minority leaders, are elected by their respective party caucuses to head their parties in the chamber.

Assembly

The Nevada Assembly is the lower house of the Nevada Legislature. As in neighboring California, the lower house of the legislature is referred to as an "Assembly" rather than the more common "House of Representatives." The body consists of 42 members, elected to two-year terms from single-member districts. Each Assembly district contained approximately 47,400 people as of the 2000 census, although 2006 Census Bureau estimates suggest an average population of 59,400 per district. Term limits, limiting assemblymembers to six 2-year terms (12 years), will take effect in 2010. Twelve members of the Assembly will be termed out in 2010.

Meetings

The Assembly, like the Senate, is composed of citizen legislators, receiving a relatively small per diem fee for the first 60 days of a given session. This tends to self-selection, with legislative service difficult for those without flexible jobs and/or large outside incomes, such as doctors and lawyers. The Assembly, again like the Senate, meets however long is necessary for the completion of all its business, up to a maximum of 120 days, beginning the first Monday in February of every odd-numbered year. While this is designed to limit the amount of time a legislator is away from their first job, in recent years 120 days has not been enough to complete legislative business, and after the last four regular sessions, special sessions have been called to finish up legislative business.

Leadership

The Speaker of the Assembly presides over the Assembly in the chief leadership position, controlling the flow of legislation and committee assignments. The Speaker is elected by the majority party caucus, followed by confirmation of the full Assembly on passage of a floor vote. Other Assembly leaders, such as the majority and minority leaders, are elected by their respective party caucuses according to each party's strength in the chamber.

Legislative salaries

The Nevada Constitution specifies that the 63 members of the state Legislature are to be paid for the first 60 days of each regular session, held every other year in odd-numbered years. The pay for the 21 Senators and 42 members of the Assembly is tied to pay increases provided to state employees. Pay increases cannot be provided to lawmakers until they are re-elected to a new term of office, so there is a pay differential for those members of the Senate elected in 2006 and those elected in 2008. For senators elected in 2006, the daily rate of pay is $137.90. Over 60 days, this amounts to $8,274. For the remainder of the Senate and all of the Assembly, the rate of pay is $146.29, which amounts to $8,777.40. Lawmakers also receive this pay for the first 20 days of any special session called by the governor. In addition to the salary, lawmakers are entitled to a daily per diem to cover food, housing and other necessities. The per diem rate is $161 for all lawmakers, regardless of where they reside or how far they must travel to reach the state capital. Travel expenses up to $1,200 are also reimbursed. [1]


Powers and duties

Amending the constitution

See also: Amending state constitutions

The state legislature can launch amendments to the Nevada Constitution through the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment process. Section 1 of Article 16 governs how the legislature can begin the process of amending the state's constitution:

  • An amendment can be proposed in either chamber of the state legislature.
  • A majority of the members of both chambers must approve the proposed amendment.
  • After the next general election for members of the state legislature, the proposed amendment must be considered again, and again approved by a majority of the members of both chambers.
  • The state legislature can call a special election for the proposed amendment(s) if they wish.
  • The amendment is then put to a vote of the people. If "a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the Legislature voting thereon" vote in favor of it, the measure becomes part of the constitution unless it is precluded by Section 2 of Article 19.
  • If two amendments are proposed at the same election that contradict each other, the one that gets the most votes becomes part of the constitution.

Additionally, according to Section 2 of Article 16 iff two-thirds of the Nevada State Legislature votes in favor, a question about whether to hold a constitutional convention goes on a statewide ballot. That election must be held at the same time as an election is being held for members of the state legislature (that is, a constitutional convention question can't go on a special election ballot). A majority vote -- but not a simple majority vote -- of the statewide electorate is required to generate a convention: "In determining what is a majority of the electors voting at such election, reference shall be had to the highest number of votes cast at such election for the candidates for any office or on any question."

External links

References

  1. Nevada Revised Statutes