Responsibilities of the Nevada Legislature and Term Limits

Generally, the Nevada Legislature, which meets every two years, enacts the laws of the state; specifies the tax rates levied on individuals, businesses, property, gaming, and sales; appropriates funds collected for the support of public institutions and the administration of state government; proposes amendments to the state constitution; and considers legislation proposed by initiative petition. In addition, the legislature is directed by the state constitution to establish a state university; a public school system; and a statewide, uniform system of local government. The legislature provides oversight of the executive and judicial branches of government through the budget and audit processes, and reviews the regulations proposed by state agencies for consistency with statutory authority and intent. However, the majority of the legislature's work, while in session, consists of generating, revising, and occasionally repealing the laws of the state.

Following the end of each regular biennial session, the duties of legislators are quite different for the next twenty months. Legislators frequently meet with citizen groups to explain the statutory changes enacted during the previous session, assist constituents on issues relating to government, serve on special legislative committees and studies, and compile information and research in preparation for the next session. A legislative commission (six appointed senators and six appointed assembly members) handles policy matters relating to the legislative branch between sessions, while an interim finance committee addresses important and emergency matters relating to the biennial budget.

Most legislators must stand for reelection each interim if they wish to serve another term of office. Members of the assembly serve two-year terms and must run for reelection prior to each regular session. Senators hold four-year terms and approximately one half of the seats are up for reelection at each two-year general election.

Nevada's voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1996 that specified term limits for a number of elected officials in Nevada, including members of the legislature. These provisions contain a lifetime twelve-year limit on service as an assembly member, and another twelve-year limit on service in the senate. The restrictions began with the general election of 1998. Therefore, 2008 was the last eligible election year for a member of the assembly who had been elected in 1998 and each election thereafter. Such a member could not run for election to the assembly starting with the 2010 election cycle. Those senators who had been elected in 1998 could have run for office in two additional elections—2002 and 2006—for a total of three terms or twelve years in office. Finally, senators elected in 2000 could have run for reelection in 2004 and 2008, with the final term of office expiring November 7, 2012.

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