Nevada Speaker Wants to Give Security Industry a Boost

Assembly speaker asks budget panel for funds to develop Nevada's homeland security industry


CARSON CITY, Nev. - Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins asked a budget panel Monday to provide more than $770,000 for a proposed state office dedicated solely to developing a homeland security industry in Nevada.

"I think the state is uniquely poised to be the leader in the world in developing security," Perkins, D-Henderson, told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, adding that homeland security operations and training at the federal Nevada Test Site create a market for security technology.

The proposal is part of AB233, which also requires the governor to appoint 14 members of the Nevada Commission on Homeland Security and forces local governments to file reports on funding with the commission.

The new Office of Economic Development of the Security Industry would be placed in the governor's office. It would work with the commission, the Department of Public Safety and the university system to coordinate research of new security technology.

Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, said he'd support the speaker's plan.

"With the gaming establishment like it is, we cannot do anything that would deter tourism from Las Vegas. Anything that shows that we have strong support of safety and security and makes families who come here to visit feel safe, we'll do," he said.

Arberry, who often jokes about cutting out pork-barrel projects, said he would find room in the budget for the speaker's proposal.

"We never have enough money to take care of all the needs, so we have to shuffle, in effect, to see how we can make it work," he said.

Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, said he didn't understand why the state needed to create a new office of economic development, and why the proposal would be floated in a homeland security bill.

"I don't know what the direct tie was or why we needed to do it there. I'm wondering why we need to do another layer of this," he said, adding that if the effort was coordinated with another economic development agency, "maybe we'd do the same thing for $500,000."

AB233 also will force the state to comply with all federal security initiatives, a provision Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, questioned.

"What if you don't agree with something that the national system has required?" she said. "We get a lot of programs we don't always agree with. Rarely do you say the state has to comply."

State Division of Emergency Management head Frank Siracusa said the provision was intended to apply to the National Incident Management System, a nationwide system for responding to emergencies. All states must comply with NIMS by 2007 to receive federal homeland security money.