February 3, 2009

Nevada Lets Citizens Use Website To Offer Suggestions

Citizens of Nevada are rapidly filling up a new Web-based suggestion box for lawmakers, proposing a variety of creative solutions to solve the state's revenue shortfall from taxing prostitution to creating a state lottery.

Ideas have been flooding in since June, with roughly 1200 suggestions submitted when lawmakers convened their 2009 session on Monday.

"The suggestions have been great. I mean everything from a lottery to 'Let's change this one line in the statute, because you have two classes of businesses being treated differently," said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, (D-Las Vegas), who supported the virtual suggestion box.

"We're facing such serious challenges, and I think as a state we need to develop solutions together that make sense," she added.

As suggestions pour in to the site, legislative staffers compile them and create a publicly available report every two weeks.  However, the report keeps names of those who submitted ideas anonymous.

One Nevadan suggested a state income tax to help fund education, arguing that the burden should not fall solely on property owners.

Another suggested the state create a toll-free number for citizens to report unregistered vehicles, saying the registration revenue would bring millions into the state's coffers.

Others expressed their opposition to the state's overall tax scheme.

"The antiquated tax structure of the state of Nevada must be changed," wrote one commenter.

"We can no longer allow gaming, mining and large corporations to have a free ride."

Another put forth alternatives to the Nevada's 6 percent pay cut for state workers, such as scaling back on purchases of new computers and furniture.

Many suggested a 4-day, 10-hours-a-day workweek option for government workers, along with shutting down nonessential offices on Fridays to reduce utility costs.

"The suggestions have been great, and our revenue and taxation committee are going to take some of them up," said Buckley.

The Web site's new feature is one of many ways Nevadans can influence the state's lawmakers.   Indeed, the Legislative Building is open to the public, allowing anyone affected by the proposals to attend meetings and voice their opinion.  And there's also a legislative hot line constituents can call to learn about meeting schedules, with many hearings even broadcast live on the legislature's Web site.

"It's a great way for the public to get involved," Assembly majority floor leader John Oceguera (D-Las Vegas) told the Associated Press.

"We saw some good ideas that we didn't know about."


On the Net:

Nevada Legislature