The state Legislature has only met its budget deadline five times since 1979.

As the Nevada Legislature winds through its second month, there haven’t been many surprises. Despite an unprecedented number of snow days, the rhythm of bill introductions, committee hearings and easy bills rolling through on general file have kept staffers, lobbyists and legislators occupied—before they hit warp speed when critical deadlines arrive in April.

One resolution, AJR 10, has already passed unanimously in the Assembly and Senate and will appear on your ballot next year. It’s a measure to remove an offensive provision from the state Constitution: Voters will get to decide if slavery and involuntary servitude as forms of criminal punishment should be allowed in Nevada. This could affect the labor practices in our state’s prison system, where inmates are paid about $1 per hour for their service in fighting fires, making license plates and performing other types of work.

It’s been a little disappointing to see Democratic legislators, who serve in the majority in both houses, fold their cards far too early on other issues. They’re not even showing much of an appetite to fight the lobbying titans when they clearly have a bill that would greatly benefit their constituents, on issues like tenant protections or insurance reforms to increase access to care, such as “any willing provider.” Instead of fully airing these concerns, legislators are amending their bills before a hearing is even held, hoping to assuage their opponents—who nevertheless will continue to oppose them.

By giving in too early, legislators lose their leverage to enact a stronger compromise. Lobbyists happily advise something “will never pass,” but constituents deserve an opportunity to advocate for what they need.

It’s been more than a little disappointing to see the Reno City Council attempt an end run around voters who have been patiently waiting since 2017 for the elimination of the at-large council seat in favor of a sixth ward. The tortured arguments about why the at-large seat is suddenly vital are insulting to other council members who hardly need a “big brother” to serve as intermediary between them and a citizen who feels “unheard” by their ward-based representative. There is nothing special about an at-large seat except the ability to raise funds citywide from moneyed interests, i.e., developers, who would much rather purchase a council member to do their bidding than convince members ward by ward.

And disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover how little the Legislature has done in response to the recurring massive tax breaks awarded to Tesla. The mercurial and erratic CEO, Elon Musk—still, by some measures, the richest human on Earth, despite his Twitter misadventures—raked in another $412 million of our hard-earned taxes, based on the smoke-and-mirrors forecasts of economic benefits from the Governor’s Office for Economic Development (GOED).

There was no honest and basic cost-benefit calculation for the average Nevadan who already lives here, leaving us to continue facing sky-high rents with no hope of home ownership thanks to pressure on the housing market by all the non-Nevadans rushing in to work at Teslaville. Meanwhile, lobbyists and those who stand to gain the most from the Tesla debacle live in a bubble of denial, arrogantly claiming the rest of us are too ignorant to understand how their deal-making enriches all of us equally.

Elon Musk raked in another $412 million of our hard-earned taxes, based on the smoke-and-mirrors forecasts of economic benefits.

GOED and the Legislature are incredibly bad negotiators, too, as pointed out by the CEO of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, who spoke out against granting Tesla hundreds of millions more in incentives when the community has yet to recover from the last billion-dollar round of giveaways. In a letter to Gov. Joe Lombardo, Ann Silver cited the lack of affordable housing, child care and other infrastructure needs as huge community concerns, saying, “If we’re going to give millions of dollars in tax abatements and incentives, the carrot should be, ‘What will you do to alleviate the desert of affordable rentals or houses or childcare?’”

Stating the obvious, Silver wondered as the state was “bartering with Elon Musk, why wasn’t it posed to him, ‘We’ll give you X if you build on-site childcare for 6,000 employees,’ or, ‘Will you build X number of affordable, easily accessible housing units?’ One or the other, or both would be in my request to any corporation moving to Nevada, and there are plenty.”

Indeed. You’d think Nevada, of all places, would have learned how to gamble a bit better on our future.

Sheila Leslie is a semi-retired human services professional who has lived in Reno for 45-plus years. A native Californian, she graduated from Sonoma State University and holds a master’s degree in Spanish...

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  1. My hopes were dashed by the news that no restraints were scheduled to prevent rent from going up. Unleached, the owners of Lucky Lane Mobile Homes, owned by Legacy III, will continue to raise rent by 100 dollars a month each year, as they have the last two years, and put us all out on the street. I’ve lived here, in the Mobile home I paid for in 2094, and I turned 80 this year. Land Lords and Tenants book Manufactured Home Parks, express provisions for older people to pay less rent, but these ruthless Rent mongers, are only interested in profit; if we can’t pay, new renters can.

  2. Thank you Sheila. An important article that every Nevadan should read. I agree that developers should be required to provide affordable housing and/or childcare facilities. Tax payers have a right to demand these things because we’re handing $412 million to the riches man in the world with the promise that it will help our economy. It’s still a gamble.

  3. when fixed means nothing to govt and greedy rents. When you only have certain amount thats it. SSD mean just that unable to work. I am just beyond disappointed that again those who don’t have kids, we didnt choose to become disabled, we did not choose to age. Most of us worked so hard our bodies are broken yet other issues become the rage when again those who can’t speak can’t even get the giant AARP that could have helped out during INSANE last year premium for a medication and the projected next year of COLA. We had to absorb the demic cost while there are several programs for kids. I can’t get 2 food boxes at St. Vincents. I am 55 hub is 67 because I am primary because I understand forms. Disgusting. big deal on double snap at the farmers market when u can’t get to them due to mobilty issue.

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