View from the fray

Sim Legislature

You can play the new and improved Nevada Legislature 2003 at
I like playing the Sim games. In 1990, I’d stay up all night building teeming metropolises with Sim City Classic. Much later, my enchantment with The Sims nearly jeopardized my career. I was tired of organizing words into sentences and sentences into meaningful real-life content. In Sim life, I had created a thriving neighborhood of workaholic journalists who—thanks to various game “cheats”—lived in huge mansions with robotic maids to deal with pesky, mundane chores.

I appreciate a world that can be condensed to fit on my good old 11-inch Super VGA monitor.

My latest obsession is Nevada Legislature 2003, a game I can play for free—not counting a monthly tax-deductible contribution to Charter Communications for cable Internet—at

The newest version of the game includes video and audio of state lawmakers’ meetings and floor sessions. Those playing at home can read through the many bill draft requests and bill revisions and bills stymied by lack of interest, lack of money or stubborn legislative committee members.

You can also vote—yes, vote!—at home on every single piece of proposed legislation, from the useful and necessary Assembly Bill 5 (which requires Medicaid provisions for young adults who’ve aged out of foster care) to the dubious Senate Bill 55 (which increases compensation—retroactively no less—to district attorneys and sheriffs). OK, it’s not really a vote, more of an opinion poll, really. But it’s fun to add two cents to the mishmash of public debate.

One fun feature from past versions of the game, though, was missing on Monday morning. Yikes! I’d so enjoyed perusing the long list of registered lobbyists for the 2001 Legislature. It’s intriguing to explore who’s pulling the lawmaking strings. For example, that son-of-a-Reno-mayor Josh Griffin—who’s now a Republican assemblyman representing Clark County District 29, minority floor leader and a member of the Assembly taxation committee—wasn’t exactly idle in state government during the 2001 session. As a paid lobbyist, Griffin fought for the interests of such powerhouses as AT&T, Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Enron Corp., the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Miller Brewing Co. and the tobacco-mongering Philip Morris, among others. On a related note: Info at the secretary of state’s Web site shows that AT&T, Barrick, the Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Newmont Mining Corp. and Phil Morris all contributed to Griffin’s campaign, as did the Committee to Elect Bob Beers. Beers is that pesky anti-tax nut you’ve been hearing about. Given the above relationships, it’s not hard to predict where Griffin will fall on the taxes-vs.-responsible-state-spending spectrum.

Isn’t this fun?

The list of lobbyists for 2003 wasn’t up as of Monday. But after a quick call to the Legislative Counsel Bureau, I was informed that the lobbyist info should be online soon.

You’ll want to stop there on your trek to virtual citizenship. And e-mail your representatives before things get too crazy. Tell them you don’t mind contributing a few bucks for the good of our state’s public-education and social-service systems. Don’t hesitate or they will win. Get online and start playing today.