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Lawmakers approve beefing up legal, fiscal Legislative Counsel Bureau staff

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Behind the BarLegislature
The front of the Nevada Legislature Building on a sunny day

Legislators are expecting a busier-than-normal interim period between sessions, amid anticipated special sessions and billions of incoming federal COVID relief dollars — leading lawmakers to boost the staff and workforce of the nonpartisan Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Members of the joint legislative budget committee during separate meetings earlier this month gave initial approval to the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s base budget, which for the upcoming biennium will equal about $73.8 million and funding for 290 full-time positions.

In total, the funding marks a 2 percent increase as compared to the last two-year budget cycle, and 12 additional positions above what was initially called for in the governor’s proposed budget.

Part of that increase is coming from anticipated federal COVID relief dollars shoring up the agency’s budget, but lawmakers also took steps to boost legal and audit division staffing amid the anticipated busy period between legislative sessions.

Lawmakers opted to delay an initial motion closing the budget to give the agency time to come back with a budget amendment adding 5 new staff positions to the legal and audit divisions, at a cost of around $1 million over the two years of the biennium.

The budget amendment includes funding for two full-time legislative auditor positions, with one focused on an expected heightened workload associated with the vast increases in federal aid coming into the state, and the other on child facility reviews.

The amended budget will also add three positions to the LCB Legal Division, including a higher-level senior principal deputy position, and two administrative positions (typist and proofreader) to help with drafting bills, amendments, codes and regulations. LCB Director Brenda Erdoes said that the legal division currently has a high percentage of newly hired attorneys, which has contributed to this session’s backlog in bill drafting.

Other new LCB positions included in the agency’s base budget include one full-time Legislative police officer to be assigned to the Nevada Threat Assessment Center to full-time track and assess potential threats to the Legislature, and a full-time information security officer to monitor cybersecurity threats to the agency.

Lawmakers also gave preliminary approval to add four new full-time positions to the LCB’s fiscal analysis division, noting that the staffing levels for the division charged with reviewing and analyzing budgetary, tax and fiscal matters had kept the same staffing levels since 2005.

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2021 Legislature. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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