A total of 196 new laws took effect Monday, including several of the first to address Nevada’s burgeoning Hispanic population.
Issues surrounding the rising number of Hispanics in the state — including those here without legal standing — were front and center throughout the 2013 Legislature.
The response by Gov. Brian Sandoval and lawmakers was a dramatic step toward creating and funding an English-language-learner program. The program is laid out in policy by SB504 and funded by some $50 million in the state budget.
At the same time, Sandoval backed and lawmakers approved SB303, creating a system of authorization cards allowing undocumented immigrants to drive after taking the appropriate tests, licensing and registering their vehicles and obtaining insurance. The measures all had bipartisan support with the addition of language barring the use of those authorization cards to qualify for welfare and other benefits and stating they can’t be used to board aircraft.
Other new measures now in effect include:
• The 2009 mandate that all off-highway vehicles such as quads, dirt bikes, dune buggies and snowmobiles be registered and licensed with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Failure to comply could bring fines of $100.
• SB416, forcing taverns out of the race and sportsbook business, not only bans expansion of the kiosks but shuts down the existing kiosks pending a two-year study. The measure pushed by the major gaming resorts was designed to limit sports betting to licensed books only, preventing bettors from doing so at a bar or tavern. Tavern owners said it was a power grab by greedy resort owners.
• AB356, encouraging development of the shuttered Nevada State Prison as a historical, educational and tourist resource for the state and Carson City.
• SB243, mandating that everyone arrested on felony charges have their DNA taken by authorities. The old law only mandated DNA sampling after conviction. If the charges are dropped or people are later exonerated, they can petition to remove the DNA from the record.
• AB284, allowing victims of domestic violence to get out of restrictive leases to help them escape their tormentors.
• AB48, making it a felony to commit voter fraud by trying to vote more than once or using some one else’s identity to vote. It is accompanied by AB35, which makes a variety of changes to campaign contribution and expense reporting in an attempt to close loopholes that have allowed some candidates and advocacy groups to avoid detailing their expenditures. In addition, SB325 requires that city and county ballot questions include an easily understood explanation of what they would do.
• SB267, prohibiting tanning businesses from allowing anyone younger than 18 to use equipment and requires posting of health warnings about tanning establishments.
• AB3334, requiring the governor’s Office of Economic Development and Office of Energy to periodically offer lawmakers an analysis of the costs and benefits of tax and other incentives they are providing to bring more business to Nevada. Lawmakers made it clear they want proof the programs are working.
• SB391, mandating a study of the governance structure and funding of Nevada’s community college system, including whether local governments should contribute to the cost.
• The series of bills implementing the 2013-15 state budget, including the appropriations, authorizations, employee pay, K-12 education and capital improvements acts. In addition, the list includes AB491, extending some $630 million in taxes set to sunset this week in order to balance the budget.
The ELL funding is contained in that package, as well as expansion of all-day kindergarten and restoration of the 2.5 percent state worker pay cut, merit pay and longevity pay.
Those laws also include reorganizations of the state Health Division and the Department of Agriculture.
Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden said the reorganization was designed more to improve services from the autistic to the disabled and those needing mental health services than to save money. But some functions, such as creating a “one-stop shop” for people needing the various services Health provides, should save some funding.
In what officials said was a logical move, several food-services programs will be combined within the Department of Agriculture. That includes the currently independent Dairy Commission; Commodity Foods, which is managed by Purchasing; and the K-12 school nutrition programs.