The Nevada state senate committee on Government Affairs has a interesting agenda for April Fool’s Day. First up, at 1:30 pm in room 2135, there’s S.B. 225, a bill to designate the Blue Wiemaraner as the official state dog. The bill’s sponsors are Senators Kieckhefer and Kirner. Not to disparage the efforts of a 9 year old Reno youngster, who suggested the designation, [RGJ] but his classroom would be well advised to heed the Senator’s caution that the bill might not pass. The next bill, S.B. 232, treads in more controversial territory: Utility rates, and which agencies may raise them.
Municipalities which operate sewer and water systems are currently exempted from the rate overviews of the Public Utility Commission. S.B. 232 would eliminate this exemption for municipal utilities in counties of more than 700,000. (Read: Clark County) Section 10 of the bill is the part freighted with more issues. “Section 10 requires the governing body of each local government within the service territory of a municipal utility to approve any proposed increased rates before the Commission …”
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is an association of seven subdivisions: Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Las Vegas Valley, Boulder City, Clark County Water Reclamation, and Big Bend (Laughlin). Thus we’d assume that any proposed rate increases would be approved by those entities. Now we come to the approval process which is a bit more complex. For example, the Las Vegas Valley Water District is governed by a board composed of members of the Clark County Commission, as is the Big Bend Water District, however in 2008 the Big Bend District authorized the Las Vegas Valley District to act as its agent. Boulder City has its own utilities department, under the jurisdiction of the auspices of the City Council. Therefore, it seems logical to assume that any petition for an increase in rates would already have the imprimatur of the Clark County Commission, but would it also need to be approved by the local governing bodies of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas? Laughlin? The City of Henderson? Boulder City? As I read Section 10 of S.B. 232 the answer would appear to be yes.
So, a proposed rate increase would need the approval of the SWNA Board, composed of representatives from the associated utility districts, plus individual approval from the local governments of the areas represented by those who serve on the SWNA Board. If this sounds a bit redundant, it’s probably because in some respects it is. If this sounds like it could be an invitation to turn proposed rate increases into political footballs (of the bouncing soccer variety) in local government meetings — it’s probably because it could be.
Not that I’m any great fan of the SNWA, and its continual green eyed glances at sources of rural water, I’m not. However, what is arguably a well intentioned attempt at generating more popular input into proposed water and utility rate increases could make arguing about the Official State Dog look like look like a romp in the park with Fido.
Meanwhile, my nominee for the State Dog is the Blue Heeler. I do so because I once had one, (Who owned whom is still a matter of opinion.) and her ego was certainly expansive enough to fill an entire state of some 110,567 square miles.