No balls

Readers may be aware that members of Congress, including Nevada’s Harry Reid and Dean Heller, are all worked up over how well footballs are being inflated.

Meanwhile, at the state level, Nevada legislators and the lieutenant governor are planning to use some of their precious 120 days of the 2015 Nevada Legislature to decide who can play in secondary school football.

While they are involved in matters of such moment, permit us to suggest a couple of other subjects for federal and state legislative action. How about if the Nevada Legislature creates a state licensing registry for Elvis impersonators? And perhaps Congress could do something to reunite Simon and Garfunkel?

In 1995, President Clinton tried and failed to deal with a six-month major league baseball strike. He then called on Congress to take action to “save” the upcoming season. U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich said, “If the American public wants baseball in 1995, they’ve got to let their views be known.” This was during a period when the Mexican economy came near collapse, the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed, the U.S. was bombing Bosnia, the first World Trade Center bombing was prosecuted, transfer of the West Bank to Arab control was agreed on, wages were stagnating, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, sarin gas was loosed in a Tokyo subway, and the income gap was widening.

There was, in other words, plenty for Clinton, Reich and Congress to work on without getting into entertainment. The same is true of the Nevada Legislature this year.

The 120-day limit on Nevada legislative sessions, approved by voters in 1998, has been a resounding failure. It has empowered lobbyists and legislative staffers by making hard-pressed legislators absolutely dependent on them during the race to the final adjournment. It has forced the lawmakers to make law episodically on whims and best guesses instead of conceptually on careful research and evidence, which take time.

And indeed, there has never been a 120-day Legislature. Since 1998, every Legislature has jumped the gun on budget hearings, holding them in advance outside the 120-day period. Several Legislatures have required special sessions after the 120-day limit to finish up, which unbalances the separation of powers because the governor controls the agenda of special sessions. Enacting a law requiring an arbitrary 120-day limit has been as effective as enacting a law requiring a constant temperature of 120-degree water in Lake Tahoe would have been.

Because time is at a premium in a session of the Nevada Legislature, solving problems for school sports is not a priority. Leave it to the schools and conferences, and if they can’t solve it, leave it unsolved. Lawmakers should deal with the problems of school teams when the problems of schools are all solved.

As for Congress, are Iran sanctions, the income gap, immigration, stagnant wages, climate change not enough to keep it busy? For that matter, if they have spare time, shouldn’t its members focus on solving congressional problems like gridlock, incivility, the political parties, dysfunction and extremism, and leave under-inflated balls to Sesame Street, where inflate was the word of the day last week? And if Congress is going to deal with football’s problems, how did it choose happen to choose inflating footballs over domestic battery?