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Politics and Policy

#NVLEG Week 10: Only The Strong Survive

The Nevada State Legislative Building in Carson City.
Alexa Ard
The Nevada State Legislative Building in Carson City.

278! That’s the number of bills and resolutions that are no longer up for consideration after a Friday night deadline killed nearly one-quarter of all the measures introduced into Nevada’s 2019 legislative session. To get the latest, we check in now with KUNR’s Senior Political Reporter Paul Boger.

Last Friday was a major deadline in the legislature. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Absolutely, Friday marked the last day committees could approve bills that originated in their own chamber, meaning if a committee failed to hold a vote on any particular measure, then it's dead. It’s no longer up for consideration in the 2019 session.

Now, there are some exceptions to those rules. Roughly 225 bills are considered “exempt” from the joint standing rules that declare bills dead or alive. Those measures almost always deal with money, the budget, or they’ve been referred to the Senate Finance or Assembly Ways and Means Committees.

But real quickly, let’s just look at some of the legislation that didn’t make to the floor.

Both AB143 and SB246 are dead. Those measures would have ended capital punishment in Nevada.

An interesting immigration-related bill, SB229, also got the boot. That would have prevented hotels and motels from giving law enforcement any details on the immigration status, citizenship or nationality of guests without a warrant.

Republican Senator Joe Hardy’s bill to criminalize prostitution in Nevada also gave up the ghost. However, I believe Democratic Senator Pat Spearman’s effort to use the “Nordic Approach” to curb prostitution and human trafficking by actually making it illegal to purchase sex, that’s still alive.

Also, dead are measures that would have funded Education Savings Accounts (the state’s school voucher program), comprehensive sex education and putting a cap on the interest for payday loans. Obviously, that’s not everything, but those are some of the highlights.

What’s still alive?

Well, the easy answer is just to say, the Democratic priorities are still alive.

I should mention AB291, the gun control reform measure introduced by Assemblywoman Sandra Jaurgegui, is still alive. Collective bargaining for state employees, a minimum wage bump, paid sick time for private sector employees, removing the statute of limitations of sexual assaults...all of those are still kicking about.

Something I’ve been keeping an eye on is proposed sunshine legislation. Typically, these measures deal with government transparency, the availability of public records requests, so on so forth. And I’ll be frank, I don’t think Nevada is a particularly transparent state, but a proposed measure by Senator David Parks of Las Vegas would make those laws stronger by limiting the fees government agencies can charge for access to public records and creating penalties if those same agencies fail to adhere to the requests.

Now, it’s unclear whether that measure will ever get a vote because it was re-referred to another committee for further deliberation, but at this point, it’s still alive.

What’s on the agenda for this week?

Well, actually this is probably my favorite part of the legislative session: floor debate. That’s because all those bills that are still alive (I’d estimate, something like 95 percent of them) are now before the full Senate or Assembly. The reason I find it so interesting is that this is the first time we’re going to see actual votes from lawmakers on legislation. In committees, it’s not uncommon for lawmakers to vote in favor of the legislation, just to move it forward in the process. That’s done for a number of reasons, but those types of votes are not usually extended to the floor. Instead, we’re going to be able to really take the temperature of lawmakers on how they feel about some of this legislation.

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