Talk about the tail wagging the dog.
According to the morning paper, the lawyers for lawmakers in Carson City are telling those lawmakers what laws they can make and not make.
Democratic state Sen. Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas tells the paper he asked to have a bill drafted this session that would have made legislators’ emails and calendars public records and thus subject to perusal by the public. He said the Legislative Counsel Bureau told him it could not be done.
A time traveling reporter quotes a March 2018 memo as saying lawmakers and their staffs do not fall within the definition of “governmental entity” in the Public Records Law. Pay no attention to the fact that lawmakers wrote the Public Records Law and conceivably may rewrite that law and change the definition of “governmental entity.”
The LCB also was quoted as saying that putting lawmakers under the preview of the Public Records Law would “conflict and interfere with the constitutional doctrines of separation of powers and legislative privilege and immunity.” Such doctrines may be widely embraced but they are not spelled out in the state Constitution, except that lawmakers may not be arrested during a session.
Finally, the memo eventually will say lawmakers’ emails and calendars “do not come within the ordinary definition of ‘public books and public records’ as those terms are used in the Public Records Law.” See above: Lawmakers can change the definition in the law.
But, according the morning paper, the American Civil Liberties Union will plow ahead anyway and try to amend a bill already pending by adding language similar that Segerblom had proposed.
The chances of lawmakers voting to expose their own backroom dealmaking and horse trading is slim to none, but it is good to see someone trying to shine a little sunshine into the dark recesses of the Legislature.