Nevada legislature enters week 12th week

Nevada lawmakers will spend some long hours voting on bills at the start of the 12th week of the 2003 session, as another deadline for Assembly and Senate action hits.

Legislative rules impose a Tuesday deadline for votes by the Assembly on most lower house bills moving to the Senate, and for votes by the Senate on most upper house bills going to the Assembly.

Double floor sessions are expected today and possibly Tuesday to handle the scores of measures that must cross over from one house to the other.

Besides the heavy vote schedule, legislative committees will continue discussing big issues -- such as Nevada's funding needs for the rest of this fiscal year and the coming two-year budget cycle.

That includes a session today by Senate Finance members on AB253, sending $71.75 million to public schools to cover an expected shortfall in sales tax revenue that school districts will endure during the current year.

Assembly Ways and Means reviews AB13, which eliminates three-judge sentencing panels in capital trials and removes a judge's ability to impanel a new jury when the first one can't decide whether to impose a death sentence.

The bill already won Judiciary Committee approval but must be reviewed by Ways and Means because it creates some additional budget costs for government.

Also today, Assembly Government Affairs will get an overview of southern Nevada water concerns; and Assembly Commerce and Labor reviews SB8, a Senate-approved bill that more than doubles fines for Nevada employers whose skirting of safety laws leaves employees dead.

And Senate Human Resources and Facilities takes up AB218, which states that school district trustees can temporarily withhold principals' paychecks if they fail to establish or enforce a plan to deal with disruptive students.

On Tuesday, Assembly Judiciary reviews SB105, which would add in the value of all damaged or destroyed property when determining the penalty for someone convicted of doing graffiti.

Senate Transportation analyzes AB226, which requires passengers in Nevada taxicabs to wear seat belts. The bill also requires cabbies to post signs telling passengers of the law.

Also Tuesday, Senate Taxation considers AB437, which defines suppliers of wine and liquor as those companies designated as suppliers by the manufacturer of the beverage. A representative for Chateau Vegas Wines claims the bill would give a monopoly on importing some fine wines and liquor to a competitor, Southern Wine and Spirits.

On Wednesday, Senate Finance takes up two bills to put more money in the pockets of state lawmakers.

SB391 would let lawmakers collect up to $20,000 for income lost because of service during regular 120-day sessions that are held every other year.

SB368 would reimburse lawmakers up to $5,000 in between sessions for travel to public meetings in their districts. The travel reimbursement would stop after a lawmaker files for re-election.

Also Wednesday, Assembly Judiciary considers SB205, which would allow for the arrests of youths with booze on their breath. The bill would extend already existing penalties for buying or possessing alcohol to prohibit minors from being impaired "to any degree."

Also Wednesday, Senate Human Resources and Facilities reviews AB322, which creates a statewide "Amber Alert" system for Nevada and sets up a committee to establish and oversee the alert system.

On Thursday, Senate Judiciary will hear two bills revising the state's death penalty laws, including AB15 which prohibits the state from executing anyone deemed mentally retarded.

The second measure, AB14, revises the order of arguments during the penalty phase of a capital trial so the defense argues first and last. It also makes it a mitigating circumstance if the defendant suffers from mental illness.

Assembly Transportation considers SB116, by Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, requiring that children under age nine and less than 80 pounds be strapped in a booster seat.

Also Thursday, Assembly Taxation will hear a presentation on proposed service taxes, at the request of Assemblyman David Parks, the committee chairman.

On Friday, Assembly Judiciary will hear SB297, a measure to protect people's credit. Under the bill, public employees who lift another person's personal information from city, county or state files "to harm that other person or for any unlawful purpose" would face at least five years in prison.

Also Friday, Senate Judiciary will hear AB17, which provides that the court-appointed defense for capital trials must include two attorneys, as well as any other experts needed to aid in the defense.

The Senate panel also will hear AB118, eliminating the state's ability to seek the death penalty in cases where the defendant was less than 18 years old at the time of the crime.


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