Jim Clark: Nevada dominating California in ‘TRPA Bowl’

Jim Clark

Wolf Pack 31, Hawaii 9; Fresno State 41, Boise State 40; Nevada 14, California 0 … wait a minute; we just heard the UNR score. Did they play two games in one day?

Nope. That was the score in the TRPA Bowl, which was more than three years in the making. Hardly anyone knew how the game was going to come out until just recently.

How did a little state like Nevada dominate a big state like California? There really wasn’t a lot of clarity about that until Incline/Crystal Bay’s former assemblyman (and now State Senator) James Settelmeyer (R-Gardnerville) sat down with some local Republicans and told the story.

In 2011, in a rare bi-partisan effort fueled by Sen. Settelmeyer, Sen. John Lee (D-Las Vegas) and Gov. Sandoval (himself a former TRPA Governing Board Member), some remarkable legislation emerged.

Senate Bill 271 gave Sandoval the right to withdraw Nevada from the TRPA Compact if the agency failed to update its comprehensive general plan, which hadn’t been touched since 1987.

With this incentive the TRPA Governing Board worked long and hard to amend the general plan finally coming up with a finished product in December 2012.

The thrust of the changes was, to a large extent, to delegate to local community governments certain administrative authorities and to acknowledge that the economic health of the region stood on a par with its environmental health.

This result was guided by the specter of reduced federal funding for environmental projects at the Lake so private development capital was going to have to fill that gap. Also that TRPA staffing levels were not infinite so local governments could help out.

Almost the minute the new plan was approved the Sierra Club filed suit in federal court to overturn it. That brought bipartisan criticism from Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

With this political cauldron still brewing liberal Nevada legislators, in this year’s session, initiated a bill (Senate Bill 229) to reverse SB 271.

The bill got hijacked and, although the final product superseded SB 271, its terms still call for withdrawal of Nevada from the TRPA Compact if, by Jan. 1, 2014, California doesn’t enact companion legislation echoing Nevada’s law which imposes on anyone challenging the regional plan the legal burden of proof that it, or any subsequent actions by the TRPA Governing Board, do not conform to the Compact. That’s a huge change!

With Nevada SB 229 in his pocket Gov Sandoval met with California Gov Brown last May and the two jointly announced that that the measure would repeal Nevada SB 271 so everyone could live happily ever after.

With Gov. Brown’s nudging the California Democratic legislative majority lost no time enacting California Senate Bill 630 providing for everything Nevada had demanded. By last week it passed both houses and is headed for the governor’s signature into law.

Sounds complicated. How can we tell who won the TRPA Bowl? Same way as football games … read the papers.

Earlier this month, in the Bonanza, Sierra Sun and Tahoe Daily Tribune, TRPA Executive Director Joanne S. Marchetta lavished effusive praise for these developments.

The editorial board of the Sacramento Bee concurred as did Clem Shute, California Gov. Brown’s appointee to the TRPA Governing Board, in a special press release.

Conversely, an attorney for Earthjustice told the Los Angeles Times: “We got rolled” and Sierra Club Conservation Co-chair Laurel Ames wrote in the Sacramento Bee that the “plan would strip Lake Tahoe of protections.”

Gov. Sandoval and Sen. Settelmeyer are not dancing in the end zone. When David defeats Goliath, it’s best to be subtle about it.

Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates, and has served on the Washoe County and Nevada state GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at

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