Legislative Briefly

Regent plan rejected

The state Senate voted along party lines to reject a measure that would have amended the Nevada Constitution to end direct elections of the state's university system regents Wednesday.

Only eight senators voted for SJR4 while 13 voted against it. Sen. William Raggio, R-Reno, was the chief sponsor of the proposal, which would have let the governor appoint the regents and have the Legislature determine the number of board members and the length of their terms.

Sens. Barbara Cegavske and Dennis Nolan of Las Vegas were the only Republicans to vote against the measure. Sen. David Parks of Las Vegas was the only Democrat who voted for the plan.

Assembly backs death penalty cost study

A plan to study the costs of the death penalty in Nevada, amended to delete an execution moratorium while the study is being completed, won approval on a 30-12 state Assembly vote Wednesday.

The vote sending AB190 to the Senate for final legislative action was along party lines, with all but two of the 14 Assembly Republicans opposing the plan.

Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, termed AB190 "a waste of money," adding that any such study also should look for cost savings created by having the death penalty as an option for prosecutors.

Several studies have said that the cost of capital punishment is greater than the cost of life in prison without parole. Some estimates are that prosecution and appeals for death penalty cases amount to $3 million to $4 million per inmate " about three times the cost of life-in-prison sentences.

Nuclear office pay changed

A new Nevada Senate bill would change the salary structure in the state Agency for Nuclear Projects, which has led the fight against federal plans for a radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain, so that staffers' pay would be set by lawmakers.

SB412 deletes the agency, now in the governor's office, from a short list of entities whose employees' pay is controlled by the governor "within the limits of available money."

The measure is meant to prevent situations similar to what happened with Bob Loux, the former Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects administrator, a spokesman for Gov. Jim Gibbons said.

The bill was requested by the state budget office and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

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