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#NVLeg Week 10: Committee Deadlines Loom As Lawmakers Scramble To Hear Bills

A screen capture of a Zoom call with 16 attendees.
Paul Boger
KUNR Public Radio
Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee hold a virtual hearing during the 81st Legislative Session.

Nevada lawmakers have less than two months until they're forced to wrap up the 2021 session, and they still have a lot of work left to do. For the past week, legislators have cloistered in their offices, holding marathon committee hearings on hundreds of bills. To help us make sense of it all, KUNR’s Morning Edition Host Noah Glick spoke with Political Editor, Paul Boger.

NOAH GLICK: Lawmakers are coming up against another fairly important deadline this week. What does all that mean?

PAUL BOGER: Essentially, we are now facing the deadline to get these bills out of their first committee assignments. When you introduce a bill into the legislature, it is immediately sent to a committee. The committee will then dig into that policy, decide if that's worthy for a full floor vote, and then [it will] be sent to the floor. So, we’re right there in that committee hearing process. This is actually my favorite part of the session. We're really digging into that policy. We're really getting a chance to see what a lot of these bills are about, how they'll affect state law and how they'll affect the people that live here.

Lots of bills are being processed. We've got about 200 bills so far that have moved through committees and now are onto the floor. So that's what lawmakers will be doing next week. But right now, definitely looking at what's in those committees.

GLICK: Have we seen any measures that lawmakers have approved so far?

BOGER: Yeah, we've seen a number of measures. So, those big election reform bills that we talked about last week, and in the weeks before, those are moving through. Making mail-in voting permanent, that's going to head to the Assembly floor. Party line voting, that's going to head to the floor. So these [are] big changes that are coming. A number of criminal justice reform bills, a number of labor reform bills are definitely moving through.

Here's the thing, lawmakers technically have to get all of this done by today, that's the deadline. But we know that deadlines haven't necessarily mattered so far in the legislative session. We're still introducing bills onto the floor. So yes, it's a deadline today, but could lawmakers potentially be holding hearings on bills next week? That's up to them.

GLICK: What do you mean by this? Is this an example of another deadline that could be extended or…?

BOGER: Absolutely. So we know it's getting into crunch time. We have less than two months. It really does need to start. Lawmakers really do need to start moving ahead with these bills and that's what they're doing. They say they want to get through all of this stuff today. And we are still waiting on a number of big pieces of legislation to have hearings or to have votes.

GLICK: There are a few bills that we haven't even talked about yet. You mentioned there are 200 some odd bills here, repealing the death penalty, banning so-called “ghost guns”... Are those bills still alive right now?

BOGER: They’re still alive, but again, we're waiting for those votes. They could potentially be voted on today. We are waiting to hear what some of those committees will be taking up later this afternoon, but those are the big ones. Cannabis consumption lounges [are] another one that we haven't seen a vote on yet.

We are waiting to hear [about] that ghost guns bill. That is a bill that would make guns that are manufactured in somebody’s own home without serial numbers and without ways to trace them back to manufacturers and who bought them [illegal]. That bill is being is being left [alone]. We haven't heard any updates on that. And Republicans have been very frustrated about that bill. They said that they were promised earlier this session there wouldn't be a gun bill. So there may be a compromise waiting to happen, a possible amendment late tonight, but we'll see.

GLICK: We've seen some action on the federal level there too with ghost guns and the Biden administration...

BOGER: That's another thing that they possibly could be waiting on.

GLICK: So what happens now? What are you keeping an eye on for this next week?

BOGER: Essentially, it all depends on what happens today and this weekend. If lawmakers are able to get through that committee process and they decide, ‘Hey, these are the bills we have, this is what we're moving forward with,’ then we're going to go onto the floor. And we're going to see a lot of these lawmakers have that debate on the floor, have those floor speeches and we'll get those full votes and get a little bit better sense of how popular some of these bills are. After that, they’ll then be sent over, switched houses, with Assembly bills going to the Senate and vice versa. So that's what we're kind of waiting on. That's if lawmakers do hold this deadline this week, but that's anybody's guess.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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