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Gov. Steve Sisolak delivers his first State of the State address in the Assembly Chambers on Jan. 16, 2019. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed a broad executive order making a swath of public safety documents and records related to how state agencies would respond to a terrorist attack confidential.

The order, which was signed on Tuesday but not publicly announced by the governor’s office, executes provisions of a 2003 state law that allows the governor to declare certain documents and records related to responding and planning for a terrorist or other attack confidential, meaning they cannot be subject to a public records request, subpoena or discovery in a court case.

In an email, a spokesman for Sisolak said the signing of the executive order was a “proactive” decision and not based on any immediate or specific threat, and was made to address a “potential risk to public safety” if the documents were publicly disclosed.

“Based on input from security experts in the emergency response community, along with consideration of national security best practices, Governor Sisolak invoked the authority granted to him by the legislature to deem those documents confidential,” Sisolak spokesman Ryan McInerney said in an email. 

The executive order exempts the following types of records from public records request, subpoenas or discovery in a court case:

  • Any assessment or plan evaluating the susceptibility of fire stations, police stations or other law enforcement stations to “acts of terrorism or other related emergencies
  • Any drawings, maps or other records revealing the “critical infrastructure” of buildings, facilities or structures that store, transport or transmit water, electricity, natural gas, fiber optic cables or microwave towers
  • Any records which may reveal details of a specific emergency response plan, as well as any tactical details or related training
  • Any handbooks or manuals detailing procedures to be followed in case of a terrorist attack or related emergency
  • Records or documents revealing information on specialized equipment used for “covert, emergency or tactical operations” of a response agency, other records related to spending on the equipment
  • Documents revealing information on critical telecommunications facilities, including any access codes or passwords for radio frequencies, procedures on security \ of radio frequencies and plans to re-establish radio frequencies for transmissions if security is breached or service is interrupted
  • Any vulnerability assessment or response plans of utilities, public entities and private businesses of the state, including general improvement districts, political subdivisions, tribal governments and all state departments and agencies

Those sections are largely copied from state law, which sets forth criminal penalties for anyone who discloses such records and requires the state’s governor to review and re-issue an executive order every ten years in order to “assess the continued need for the documents, records and other items of information to remain confidential.”

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