Government Affairs Report – September 2017

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

The song “Signs” was originally recorded in 1971, and covered in 1990 with slightly – shall we say different – lyrics. Bonus points to anyone who can name both artists.

Debating signs, along with size, location, medium, and content, has a long and storied history in America. The issue was even taken up by First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, which culminated in Congress passing the Highway Beautification Act in 1965. Paradoxically, the Highway Beautification Act, which sought to reduce signs on our nation’s highways, didn’t seem to work, as just 6 years later someone wrote a song about excessive signs, which was re-made 20 years after that. Signs have proliferated everywhere from our urban centers to suburban malls. Signs are beginning to appear on major league sports jerseys. Right, wrong, or indifferent, the 21st century is shaping up to be the age of information, where those with information seek to transfer it to those without, by any means possible, but mostly, by signs.

The signage provisions in Title 30 of the Clark County Municipal Code have not been updated since 2000. Accordingly, more than a year ago, the Clark County Department of Comprehensive Planning set out to amend the municipal code in an effort to modernize the signage portions of Title 30. Staff’s considerable work resulted in two proposed drafts of amendments to Title 30; aptly named Plan A and Plan B. Without getting highly technical and risking all of you falling asleep at your desks, the difference between the plans is Plan A allowed content-based restrictions of signage, as such pertain to on-premise (signs advertising products or services at the location of the sign) and off-premise (signs advertising products or services located somewhere other than where the sign is) advertising; Plan B was drafted as “content-neutral,” meaning signage would be approved without County approval of content, thereby allowing off-premise signage to be utilized and proliferate.

Plan A and Plan B were ultimately melded together, and a content-neutral combination of the plans was presented by staff to the Clark County Commission on August 2, 2017. The working draft is linked here: http://agenda.co.clark.nv.us/sirepub/cache/2/haz4d41znohn3mv1hyehriek/63554308282017011125738.PDF

Numerous parties spoke on behalf of their respective interests. The Nevada Resort Association testified in favor of the proposed amendments, noting its members are regulated by state law, and cannot advertise messages which bring disrepute on the industry. On the other side of the coin, the billboard companies testified against a content-neutral ordinance, citing mostly competitive issues. County Attorney Rob Warhola noted his belief content-based restrictions could be retained, while carving out districts where off-premise advertising would be allowed. Each of the commissioners also made comments. That said, it must be noted all commissioners, save Commissioner Giunchigliani, expressed measured support for content-neutral advertising in some areas. However, opinions varied as to whether all locations should be content-neutral, or simply the gaming enterprise district. To that end, the commissioners directed staff to set stakeholder meetings and voted to table the ordinance until September 19, 2017. Video of the hearing can be found here: http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/public-communications/Pages/Agendas.aspx
Go to the August 2nd Zoning Commission meeting, select video, and click on Item 40.

The stakeholder meetings are currently scheduled for all day on August 31 and September 1. Kerrie and I will be in attendance.

The answer to the above is Five Man Electrical Band (1971) and Tesla (1990).

Odds & Ends

I was a recall coordinator.
My job was to apply “the formula.”
A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph.
The rear differential locks up.
The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside.
NOW
Should we initiate a recall?
Take the number of vehicles in the field – “A”
Multiply by the probable rate of failure – “B”
Multiply by the average out of court settlement – “C”
A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.

– Fight Club

Doubtless, each of you have seen recall petitions have been filed against Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro, and Sen. Patricia Farley. While the Senate Republican Caucus has not claimed responsibility for the petitions, those who filed the petitions are members of the Republican Party and, in the case of the petition against Sen. Woodhouse, her opponent from the 2016 General Election, Carrie Buck, is the petitioning party. Nevada law does not require a recall petition to state the purpose for the recall, and none of the three aforementioned petitions state a purpose. While one can surmise the petition against Sen. Farley originates from deep-seeded conflict between her and Senate GOP leadership dating back to the 2015 Session and culminating in her changing parties, the petitions against Sen. Woodhouse and Sen. Cannizzaro are wanting for a reason as of the date of this newsletter.

An analysis similar to the above reveals some interesting facts. Recall votes are limited to voters who voted in the immediately preceding election. Turnout in the 2016 election was extremely low, so there is a meager voting pool. Sen. Woodhouse won her race against Carrie Buck by less than 500 votes (<1%); Sen. Cannizzaro won her race against Victoria Seaman (who has said she is running for congress in CD 3, a seat being vacated by Jacky Rosen, who is running for US Senate) by just more than 1,000 votes (<2%). Accordingly, the shallow pool of eligible voters combined with extremely slight margins of victory make recalls tempting. However, no recall has ever succeeded in Nevada, and they are very expensive – some say these recalls will cost taxpayers upwards of $150,000. More, although Nevada law doesn’t require as much (yet), the recall process is typically reserved for malfeasance by the office holder, and here, there was none. These recalls are important, as majority of the Nevada Senate hangs in the balance; remember, the Democrats only have an 11-10 majority, and Senate Republicans gain a majority with a victory in any one of these 3 races.

Time will tell whether the petitions are successful. Until that time, we will continue to monitor interim political wrangling. Hey – it’s better than punching yourself in the face, right? Whoops; we broke Rule #1.

 

Jon & Kerrie

Jonathan P. Leleu, Shareholder
Kerrie Kramer, Assistant Director

Greenberg Traurig, LLP | Suite 400 North
3773 Howard Hughes Parkway | Las Vegas, Nevada 89169
Tel 702.599.8070 | Fax 702.925.2316 | Cell 702.541.1500
leleuj@gtlaw.com | www.gtlaw.com