Nevada Legislature Convenes; 120-Day Clock Starts - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Nevada Legislature Convenes; 120-Day Clock Starts

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The 77th Nevada Legislature is now officially underway.

And over the next 119 days, lawmakers will discuss everything from the budget to bills looking at online gaming and an education business tax proposal.

Monday's session started around 11am in Carson City.

Opening day is typically reserved for accolades, speeches and introductions before lawmakers buckle down to tackle the state's business - a task that must be completed by midnight June 3.

Assemblyman Steve Brooks is taking a leave of absence. The Democrat was arrested Jan. 19, accused of threatening incoming Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D). He was hospitalized last week for a mental evaluation. Kirkpatrick says he has apologized for his actions. There's no word yet on when he will return.

Also - legislators we talked to say that with the improving economy, they are feeling a little bit more optimistic than they were two years ago. And they all say they are working toward the same goal of doing what's best for Nevada.

"We need to make sure we put folks back to work. That's the key to helping them keep their homes and make sure their children are educated. And that helps all business," says Kirkpatrick.

Others agreed, the economy and education are top priorities for the next biennium.

With an emphasis on bipartisanship.

"We agree on the things that we need to do. The difference is the implementation and how soon, and that kind of thing," says Senator Mo Denis (D).

"We're going to talk, but more importantly, we're going to listen. And there's going to be some serious discussions. The tax structure, the level of funding for education. But most importantly, I think we're getting off on the right foot," says Assemblyman Pat Hickey (R).

And there are plenty of new faces in the crowd, with ten new senators and 12 first-term assembly members.

"I'm feeling really positive about it. You know, there's really some good, sharp, young legislators that have come and I think they're really going to be a benefit, compared to us old guys that have been plugging along here for too long," says Senator Pete Goicoechea (R).

Denis adds, "It's always an exciting day when we're getting ready to start. You work so hard to get here and the day is finally here and we've got a lot of work to do."

For more information on the legislature, go to http://www.leg.state.nv.us/  (AP)

Nevada Senate Democrats released the following statement on the first day of the 2013 legislative session.  Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis stated:

"Today marks the beginning of months of work by our legislators and staff.   Opening Day is special for all of us, particularly our newest members-Senators Atkinson, Segerblom, Spearman, Woodhouse, Jones, Ford and Smith.   We have said since the November election that this session will be different than years past.  As a first step to opening a dialogue and articulating a clear agenda, we're proud to release www.BuildingABetterNevada.com, a website in partnership the Assembly Democratic Caucus that highlights our joint agenda.

"During the campaign, our Senators heard time and time again the frustration of Nevadans about the state of our education system—and we intend to address that issue head on in the first weeks of session. We have many other tough issues ahead of us, like reforming our revenue structure and creating jobs, but we will face these challenges head on.

"We are confident that our caucus and our friends on the Republican side will work together to end the 2013 session with comprehensive legislation and build a better Nevada."

If the Republicans release a similar statement, we'll be sure to let you know about it, too.

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