By SAM METZ AP/Report for America
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gov. Steve Sisolak agreed Monday to Democrats’ request to delay convening a special legislative session until early July to provide the capital more time to develop safety protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“While the Governor expressed concern over moving the date into the next fiscal year, he understands the important need of ensuring the safety of members and staff during a special session in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sisolak’s office said in a press release.
The announcement comes a week after the Democratic governor suggested he might call for a special session before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
Past special sessions have attracted flocks of lawmakers, lobbyists and staff, crowding the state capital’s chambers for committee hearings and floor sessions. During Phase 2 of Sisolak’s phased reopening plan, people are discouraged from gathering in groups of larger than 50.
The Legislature’s leading Democrats said the Legislative Counsel Bureau needed more time to develop safety protocols in line with Phase 2 that allow lobbyists and other members of the public to still participate.
Republicans said the explanation was an attempt to gloss over how Sisolak is not prepared for a special session and has yet to present lawmakers an updated budget.
“Nevada’s budget is facing a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars, leaving our children and most vulnerable waiting for the state to act, yet Governor Sisolak has failed to show he is ready to take action and solve this problem,” state GOP director Jessica Hanson said.
Neither Sisolak nor legislative leaders have announced a final agenda for the upcoming special session. State law says the Legislature can only address a narrow agenda laid out by the governor when it convenes for a special session.
Lawmakers, activists and law enforcement groups have questioned whether the special session will be limited to the state budget or also include police reform, amid the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson has said he wants criminal justice on the agenda.
Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.