Lawmakers start final month of session

Nevada lawmakers starting the last full month of the 2007 session are anticipating a bleak revenue report Tuesday that will guide them in wrapping up work on a nearly $7 billion budget for the coming two fiscal years.

The state Economic Forum's analysis of all tax revenue sources must be followed by the legislators as they complete the spending plan. With the analysis in hand, Assembly and Senate budget committees hope to start resolving their differences by the end of the week.

In advance of the forum's report on major revenues such as casino and sales taxes, an advisory panel has estimated that the state's projected take from smaller revenue sources in the upcoming budget cycle should be reduced by nearly $22 million.

When legislators meet on Monday, they'll have just five weeks to go before their scheduled adjournment on June 4. That's assuming they are able to work out conflicts with Gov. Jim Gibbons over the budget and avoid the need for a special legislative session.

Monday's hearings include an Assembly Judiciary session on SJR9, a Senate-endorsed plan to amend the Nevada Constitution to allow for an intermediate appeals court between the state Supreme Court and district courts.

Senate Judiciary considers three measures dealing with domestic relations and violence, including AB282 which expands types of domestic violence and harassment by an individual against another to include killing or injuring the victim's pets or other animals.

Senate Human Resources and Education considers AB235, a labeling bill that would provide added information on pill containers to make sure consumers aren't confused about medications they're taking; and Assembly Education considers SB398, setting up a pilot program for English immersion in public schools;

On Tuesday, besides the Economic Forum meeting there will be a joint Senate-Assembly budget panel session on spending plans for agencies including the state Wildlife Department and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Assembly Judiciary takes up SJR2, a proposed constitutional amendment to allow Nevada judges to be appointed by a special commission, rather than be chosen in competitive elections.

Senate Judiciary reviews AB353, which would allow a court to restore parental rights if a child is not likely to be adopted and if it's in the best interest of the child.

Senate Legislative Operations and Elections debates AB470, which prohibits the governor from entering into international trade agreements without the consent of the Legislature.

On Wednesday, Assembly Judiciary debates SB85, a companion bill to an Assembly-approved constitutional amendment, AJR3, to limit the government's use of eminent domain. Also on the agenda is SB542, the governor's "homestead" proposal to raise the amount of home equity shielded from creditors from $350,000 to $550,000.

Assembly Commerce and Labor debates SB302, which would ban "universal default clauses" in some credit card contracts that allow companies to boost interest rates if a customer misses a payment for a separate bill, such as a car payment or utility bill.

Assembly Health and Human Services considers SB112, an anti-methamphetamine bill that would bring Nevada law into line with a new federal law restricting access to medicines containing pseudoephedrine - typically common cold medicines - that can be used to make meth.

Senate Human Resources and Education takes up AB261, which mandates that child welfare agencies must release information in child neglect and abuse cases.

Senate Natural Resources considers three water-related measures, including AB331 which encourages water conservation and requires water companies devise a plan that outlines how their rates will encourage conservation.

On Thursday, Assembly Judiciary reviews SB6, which would make it a felony to allow a child to be present where marijuana is manufactured or sold. Also being discussed is SB7, which would increase legal responsibility of parents for their teenagers' drinking.

A joint Senate-Assembly budget panel is scheduled to close the spending plan for Nevada's university, college and community college system; while Senate Commerce and Labor will review AB478, which would stop some payday loan companies from charging excessive interest rates.

Senate Legislative Operations and Elections discusses various ethics-in-government measures, including AJR1, which requires that public officials must forfeit their office if they commit three or more ethics violations.

The panel also will consider AB79, which would prohibit an official or public employee from doing political campaign work on government time - a measure related to the impeachment of the late state Controller Kathy Augustine; and AB80, which requires more disclosure by limited liability corporations, or LLCs, that lobby and contribute to campaigns.

Assembly Ways and Means considers AB157, providing for full-day kindergarten in all Nevada elementary schools; AB128, requiring drug companies to disclose gifts, payments and other benefits given to doctors and health care providers; and AB115, requiring the state to develop a program to protect workers at mines that emit mercury.

Assembly Elections, Procedures and Constitutional Amendments discusses SJR4, which provides for the direct appointment of all regents by the governor.

On Friday, Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means plan to meet jointly to resolve their budget differences. Also, a joint budget subcommittee plans to close the budget for the state's Distributive School Account, the big funding mechanism for Nevada's public schools.


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