Southern leaders gather to discuss legislative priorities: Will anyone dare say "fair share" at meeting?

For years, the complaint has been whispered or bellowed in Southern Nevada: Give us our fair share.

The loudest voices have been the likes of Jim Bilbray, first as a regent and then as a state senator, and Dina Titus, the longtime upper house minority leader now in the House. The math would puzzle an outsider: The South has had a near supermajority in both houses for decades, yet the North has always had its way, or so it seemed. That was mostly thanks to the late Bill Raggio, the Sentinel of the North, who defied math, and somehow had a political chemcial that dissolved regional alliances and tightened generational and partisan bonds.

With southerners in charge of both houses (again), I am amused by a meeting Thursday of lawmakers and local officials titled on the agenda (linked here):

"WHAT DOES SOUTHERN NEVADA WANT:

SETTING OUR PRIORITIES FOR THE 2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION"

The private sector, which has been frustrated over the years by southern lawmakers not sticking together, also is involved. Brookings’ Rob Lang is helping to kick off the event along with the Las Vegas Chamber’s Brian McAnallen.

“It is a conversation with a variety of partners in the community about issues in Southern Nevada and setting some Southern Nevada priorities for the upcoming legislative session,” said chamber spokeswoman Cara Roberts.

The daylong event apparently is designed to be a strategy session between local and state elected officials. Friction between those two groups -- the locals think the state wants to steal its money, and the state often has fulfilled that prophecy -- has not helped southern solidarity in the past. But maybe after the state Supreme Court all but ended the local government pilfering parade with the Clean Water Coalition decision that changed the arc of Session '11 and, perhaps, Gov. Brian Sandoval's career, maybe comity can be achieved.

For those who care about the South getting its fair share, it's not just about pork but priorities. So when breakout sessions occur on issues such as the funding formula for higher ed, I wonder if previous illusory united fronts will be discussed. Or can they hold, if they are declared, though the spring?

Various breakout sessions are scheduled to be moderated by the likes of Chris Giunchigliani, the county commissioner who knows a thing or two about fair share from her years in Carson City, and Debra March, a the former Urban Land Institute policy wonk who is now a Henderson city councilwoman. I understand that Switch Communications boss Rob Roy, a favorite of Sandoval’s, will lead a discussion on economic development. Where is the South’s Apple project?

I understand there will be a lot of lawmakers and local government officials there – so many for the municipalities that they had to post the meeting. I am naturally skeptical, based on experience, of the half-life of commitments and promises made before the session begins. I find they usually last less than 120 days and are swallowed into the capital maw.

But, for now at least, I’ll give a fair shake to this fair share meeting.