Meeting on Saturday, Assembly and Senate budget committees resolved remaining differences in a nearly $7 billion state spending plan for the next two fiscal years, ahead of a May 21 deadline, but didn't complete work on all sources of revenue for that plan.
Beating the difference-resolution deadline was critical because staffers now have the time needed to finalize bulky bills on education funding and overall budget authorizations and appropriations. And it clears the way for legislators to focus on final details of their revenue plan to fund the budget.
Timing is everything as the lawmakers close out their 120-day session, which by law must end on June 1. With Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons stating repeatedly he will veto proposals for higher taxes, legislators must leave themselves enough time to attempt a veto override before the session ends.
After Gibbons gets the lawmakers' revenue plan, he'll have five days, excluding Sunday, to veto it. That means legislators need to get the plan to him by the May 23-24 weekend to ensure they have a few days after a veto the following week to do the override vote and gavel the 2009 session into history.
A two-thirds' majority vote is needed to override a veto. Democrats in charge of both houses have the needed two-thirds edge in the Assembly and as a result of drawn-out, closed-door negotiations with key GOP lawmakers hope to have a similar margin in the Senate.
On Monday or Tuesday, leaders intend to schedule a meeting of the entire 63-member Legislature — as a "committee of the whole" — to go over the emerging tax package.
Also Monday, there's a Senate Commerce and Labor hearing on AB149, a plan by Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, to require lenders to meet with buyers in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure and see if they can agree on acceptable new loan arrangements.
Senate Commerce and Labor also reviews AB229, requiring "fire-safe" cigarettes that would self-extinguish if left unattended. Proponents say cigarette-related blazes are the nation's leading cause of fire deaths in homes.
Besides the work on the revenue plan, lawmakers will have busy floor sessions throughout the week, voting on scores of bills and amendments to those proposals.
They'll also be negotiating throughout the week in conference committees, made up of a few members from each house, on amendments that prompted objections from original sponsors of measures. If conferees can't compromise, bills in those committees will die.
On Tuesday, Senate Finance will review two bills that are part of an effort to create a green economy in Nevada, including SB242 which would require the state to adopt efficiency standards for various types of equipment and also require real estate agents to provide energy efficiency information to prospective home buyers.
The other bill, SB188, would encourage development of solar hot water heating systems through a demonstration project that would give participants rebates or portfolio energy credits from the state.
Assembly Transportation considers SB394, a bill that would require owners of off-road vehicles, or ORVs, to register their rigs with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.
Also, Senate Legislative Operations and Elections considers several proposed studies that would be conducted during the interim between the 2009 and 2011 sessions.
On Wednesday, several committees are meeting, including Assembly Government Affairs, considering SB408 which authorizes payments from a relief account to Nevada National Guard members home from combat duty; and Assembly Judiciary which will take up SB182, dealing with common-interest communities.