Health district bill stalled

State senators want more time to study a proposal that would allow rural counties including Carson City to create regional health districts.

The state senate passed a bill to the assembly last week that would instruct a legislative health care committee to study the proposal until the 2011 legislative session.

The Senate Committee on Health and Education amended Senate Bill 278 that initially would have allowed Carson City or any rural county to join with other rural counties to create a board governing public health.

Carson City supervisors approved the original bill in February. It would give the regional health district the power to raise sales taxes a quarter of a cent and property taxes 15 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Taxes would be raised evenly in all counties in the health district.

The district Carson City proposed would manage all public health services not covered by the state in Carson City and Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties. Any resident could use any of the services in any of the counties.

But the amended bill would have a committee study how the district should be funded, who should govern it and how it would impact counties.

Carson City and Douglas County endorsed the bill. Lyon and Storey counties didn't officially say anything on the bill.

Bill sponsor Mike McGinnes, R-Fallon, said he introduced the bill because Carson and Douglas asked him to.

He said in an e-mail he doesn't think the counties were happy it was stalled.

"I was OK with the study this session because the tax implications were too large in the current climate," he said.

Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, criticized the taxes in the bill when the health and education committee held a public hearing on it.

Washington is head of the Legislative Committee on Health Care, which would study the bill.

Mayor Bob Crowell said legislators seemed to like the idea of allowing health districts, but the study will afford them more time to look at possible problems.

The push for the bill also showed that Carson and Douglas could work together on problems, he said.

"I look at it as a net positive," said Crowell.

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