Lawmakers in Carson City are facing down the first major deadline of the session. Monday is the last day they’ll be able to introduce new legislation for the rest of 2019, and with hundreds of bill expected to be introduced before the end of the day, it's likely the start of a busy week in Carson. KUNR's Bree Zender sat down with Political Reporter Paul Boger to break down the news from the capital city.
For the second week in a row, Paul, we need to start off our conversation talking about a resignation.
Yes, we do.
Last week saw the resignation of Sparks Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle. He’s the second Democrat to resign in as many weeks, but this time it’s due to apparent sexual harassment allegations.
So, there isn’t a whole lot of information available regarding the allegations themselves. Under the legislature’s new harassment reporting rules, all reports are made to an outside group who then investigates them, meaning, we don’t really know all the details there.
What we do know is that Thursday morning Sprinkle apparently called the Speaker of the Assembly, Jason Frierson, and told him about the apparent allegations and that he no longer felt that he was able to serve as an assemblyperson.
Since his resignation, Michael Sprinkle has not spoken publically that I know of, however; he did issue a statement in which he confirmed the forthcoming allegations. He said he takes full responsibility for his actions and apologized if he made anyone feel uncomfortable.
So, there is now a vacancy in the Assembly, and it’ll be up the Washoe County Commission to select another Democrat to replace Sprinkle.
So, this is the second resignation of a Democratic lawmaker so far this month. How has this affected the mood in the legislature?
Well, I have to say it’s definitely put a damper on things in Carson.
You know, I was actually talking about this the other day with a few other member of the Capitol Press Corps. This has been a fairly slow session, thus far. With the exception of the expanded background check bill that passed in February, we just haven’t really seen any of the big, policy bills one might expect to see at this point of the session.
Now, part of that may have something to do with the fact that one of the biggest players in the building, Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, resigned in disgrace a few weeks into the session.
That really seemed to put the brake on things in the Senate. I’m sure Democratic leaders are really hoping all of these distractions are behind them. If not, this may be a strange session, indeed.
So, moving on to legislation, what were some of the bills discussed last week and what’s on the docket for this week?
Last week, we saw the introduction of a measure aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions to near-zero levels by 2050. Essentially, the measure would put into law many of the requirements needed to join the U.S. Climate Alliance. That’s the group of states that banded together in 2017 after President Trump announced the U.S. would be leaving the Paris Climate Accord. The measure would also require the state to put together an annual report detailing the amount of emissions produced in the state each year and recommendations for lowering those gases.
One of the reasons I find that bill so interesting is because it actively fulfills a campaign promise made by Democrats last year to tackle environmental concerns. The other reason I find it interesting is because, as I read it, the bill really doesn’t have any teeth. There are no repercussions if the state doesn’t meet its goals, so we’ll see if any of those penalties are placed into another measure – most likely it’ll be tied with increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards.
As for this week, we’re heading into the first major deadline of the session. Monday, as a matter of fact, is the bill introduction deadline, so all the bills that are up for consideration this session must be introduced on the floor of either the Senate or Assembly if they are to move any further in the process. What that means is we’ll finally get to see all the legislation up for consideration this session.
And already Monday morning some interesting legislation has been introduced.
SB291 would require the testing of infants for certain preventable or inheritable disorders, otherwise known as the heel prick test.
SB312 would require private employers with at least 25 employees to provide paid sick leave to all workers. It will also allow workers to use sick leave to take care of family members.
There’s also AB291, a fairly wide-ranging gun bill that looks to ban the sale or importation of bump stocks. It also gives counties more leeway in regulating gun laws.
And that’s just a very, very small sampling of the hundreds of measures being introduced.