Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com

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April 14, 2013
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Friday deadline kills 264 of 1,006 bills

Seven resolutions and 264 bills died Friday when they failed to get out of committee in the legislative house where they originated.

Among them were Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson’s construction-defects bill, which he described as one of his top priorities. He calls the existing system a cash cow for unscrupulous lawyers that drives contractors out of business but doesn’t get homeowners the repairs they need.

But a similar measure survived in the Assembly after it was amended, exempted and sent to the Ways and Means Committee.

Another Roberson bill, one that would have dramatically modified the worker’s compensation program, also died without a vote. Danny Thompson of the AFL-CIO had described that measure as a disaster for injured workers.

Assemblyman Joe Hogan’s plan to legalize recreational use of marijuana failed to win committee support. At the same time, a committee agreed with Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, that voters who approved legalizing the use of medical marijuana a decade ago intended there be a legal way for those who need the drug to get it. His bill allows creation of pot dispensaries similar to those allowed in Colorado.

Another survivor is a bill allowing the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver-authorization cards for non-citizens. If it eventually passes, it will make Nevada the nation’s fourth state to allow such people to pass a driver’s test, get insurance and drive. The language states the license can only be used to drive, not as identification for any other purpose.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s bill to give businesses tax breaks if they donate to school-choice scholarships also survived, but like a host of other bills, only because it was amended to incur a state cost, winning an exemption and referral to the Senate Finance Committee.

That is one of the most common tricks lawmakers use to keep their pet legislation at least on life support past various deadlines. Any measure that would affect the budget is eligible for exemption.

Frequently, that move gives pros and cons more time to work out a deal, after which they hand an amendment to the money committee implementing the compromise and removing the cost.

Another measure that was legislative equivalent of a football lateral was Sen. Ben Kieckhefer’s bill to keep the mentally unstable from buying or possessing firearms. Finance will review that bill, too.

Some other gun legislation, however, didn’t make it through the day. Assembly Judiciary Chairman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, declined to take a vote on the measure that would force Nevada colleges to let people carry guns to class, leaving it to die.

Despite the loss of major initiatives supported by the GOP, such as prevailing-wage mandates, the so-called campus-carry bill was the only loss bemoaned in a news release by Assembly Republicans. Opponents said campus presidents already have the power to grant people with a concealed-weapons permit the right to carry on campus on a case-by-case basis.

The committee also declined to consider a measure that would have put an excise tax on gun and ammunition sales, with the money gong to mental health and crime-victim benefits. It also would have exposed the seller of a gun to potential civil liability if he or she sold a gun without a background check and that weapon was used in a crime.

Secretary of State Ross Miller’s plan to couple voter registration records with a photo of the voter also survived by being sent to the Finance Committee. With costs to implement the plan estimated as high as $3 million, that referral was required of Senate Bill 63.

Assemblyman Harvey Munford’s plan to have police ticket pedestrians for texting while crossing a roadway died without getting a hearing.

Fellow Democrat Assemblywoman Lucy Flores won committee support for her bill to require restaurant chains with 15 or more Nevada stores to post nutritional information. But legislation to put an additional tax on fast food didn’t survive.

Both major pieces of legislation pushed by big resort operators to stack more restrictions on slot route operators and chain casinos such as Dotty’s survived. SB416 was pushed to the finance committee for review while AB360 won an amend and do pass vote. It requires restricted licensees to have at least 2,500 square feet of space, a physical bar with slot machines embedded in it and a restaurant on premises.

SB401, Roberson’s bill to make sure mining pays its taxes if the ballot question removing the industry’s protection passes, died in committee. Sen. Tick Segerblom’s SB400 on the same subject, survived by exemption. Word was that much of Roberson’s bill will become the new and improved SB400 — a political move that would get the job done while denying Roberson credit.

Altogether, 138 Assembly and 126 Senate bills died Friday out of the total 509 Senate and 497 Assembly bills in the hopper so far this session.

In addition, the legislative website Saturday listed a total of 57 Assembly and 50 Senate measures as exempt from the deadlines.

That leaves 635 pieces of proposed legislation still in process and facing the next major deadline. April 23 is when all non-exempt legislation must clear the house where it originated. That too will weed out a large number of bills.


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The Nevada Appeal Updated Apr 14, 2013 12:10PM Published Apr 14, 2013 02:54AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.