Lombardo pledges to veto bill expanding North Las Vegas city council

18 April 2023

Gov. Joe Lombardo has promised to veto a bill from Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) to expand the size of the North Las Vegas city council, his chief of staff, Ben Kieckhefer, told The Nevada Independent Tuesday.

The bill, SB184, which passed out of its first committee last week, would still need to be approved by a majority of lawmakers in both houses before it reaches the governor’s desk, but Kieckhefer said the governor would not sign legislation amending a city charter that has not been processed through the charter committee — a committee designed to propose and recommend changes to the city charter with council members. North Las Vegas officials have opposed Spearman’s bill, saying it was brought forward without input from the city’s charter committee.

“Mayors throughout Nevada have made it clear that they value the voice of their constituents when considering changes to their city charters. The Governor agrees,” Kieckhefer wrote in a statement referencing a letter signed by 18 mayors from across the state warning of “unintended” consequences presented by state lawmakers working around city charter committees. 

“[The city charter] process ensures all voices are heard before any changes are made to municipal governments. The Legislature shouldn’t circumvent that process,” Kieckhefer added.

The statement marks the first significant comment from the governor’s office as to whether Lombardo will sign or veto a piece of legislation making its way through the Legislature. His office has routinely declined to comment on pending legislation, generally stating that the governor will evaluate legislation when it comes across his desk.

North Las Vegas Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown, who defeated the bill’s sponsor, Spearman, in the mayoral race last year, had opposed the bill, citing increased costs for a larger city council. The city projects the bill would cost more than $1.4 million in its first year of implementation and nearly $1 million annually after that.

Several members of the city’s 13-member charter committee testified in support of the bill, however, including vice chair Sophia Romero, who said the committee was limited in their communications with city officials, only meeting once in two years. 

Spearman and supporters of the policy said changes to the city charter were necessary to address concerns involving lawsuits with North Las Vegas police, diversity in supply chains, out of state senior staff and oversized wards. 

“This is about the city of North Las Vegas modernizing the city council,” she said during the hearing.

This story was corrected on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 3:36 p.m. to fix one instance of misspelling Ben Kieckhefer’s name.

The post Lombardo pledges to veto bill expanding North Las Vegas city council appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

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