City Cast

What's a Special Session?

Scott Dickensheets
Scott Dickensheets
Posted on June 7
Antique-style drawing of legislative gathering

Live feed of actual Nevada Legislature. (clu/Getty)

As the Silver State braces for its latest special legislative session, here’s some deep background:

Nevada joins Montana, North Dakota, and Texas as one of just four states in which the Legislature meets for a constitutionally specified amount of time: In our case, 120 days every two years (🎧). When that’s insufficient — as is the case this year — or when there’s off-year business only a full Legislature can address, a special session can be called.

Who can call one? Although the Legislature can convene a session — it takes two-thirds of both houses to do so — so far all of Nevada’s have been called by the governor.

How often does it happen? There have been 33 so far, the first in 1867, to assure payment of interest on the state debt, and the most recent in 2021, primarily for redistricting.

How long can a special session last? Typically no more than 20 days — consecutive calendar days, not business days. There have been five 20-day specials. The law allows longer sessions under certain circumstances, and Nevada has seen two: 27 days in 2003 (to consider taxes) and 25 days in 2004 (to impeach a state official). Note: the marathon 2003 session followed a failed session a few weeks earlier — the first special session ever dissolved by the governor in Nevada.

By contrast, it took one day in 1920 for lawmakers to ratify the amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote, and five days in 2016 to, among other things, approve public financing for Allegiant Stadium.

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