Animal cruelty, wildlife, gambling bills signed

(AP) - A wide range of legislation dealing with animal cruelty, graffiti, train whistles, campaign finance reform, the state wildlife agency and other issues were among 36 bills signed into law Friday by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Campaign finance reforms pushed by Secretary of State Ross Miller received approval.

AB452 requires candidates to file their campaign finance reports electronically, unless they sign an affidavit stating that do not have online access.

The bill also makes the secretary of state's office the central repository for all candidate reports, and sets earlier campaign reporting deadlines to make the information available before early voting begins. Miller says the provisions will allow his office to set up a searchable database to track contributions.

Two other campaign reform bills, AB81 and AB82 dealing with organization of minor political parties and political action committees, have not yet been signed.

Nevada's governor will have more discretion to appoint the state's wildlife director under AB322, a measure stemming from a spat between the politically appointed Nevada Wildlife Commission and the Nevada Department of Wildlife during the administration of former Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Gibbons fired director Ken Mayer in late November, just before he left office. Sandoval re-appointed Mayer as acting director in January.

State law said the governor must appoint a director from names recommended by the nine-member commission. AB322 strikes that language. It says the governor may consider nominations by the commission but gives the governor sole authority to make the final appointment.

The bill also strengthens qualifications for a conservation representative to serve on the appointed policy board.

An animal lover whose household includes four dogs and two cats, Sandoval signed SB299 cracking down on puppy mills and SB223 toughening laws on animal cruelty.

SB299 requires breeders to get an annual permit; allows inspections by animal control officers; and all cats and dogs sold to be micro-chipped. Additionally, it prohibits breeding a female dog before it is 18 months old, and limits breeding of a female dog to once a year.

The law leaves it up to county and city governments to adopt ordinances implementing the provisions.

SB223 makes it a felony to willfully torture, maim or kill a pet, or any cat or dog.

Taggers who deface a historic landmark will be subject to felony charges under SB257, which also allows courts to combine separate incidents to determine punishment for graffiti vandals.

People who live near railroad tracks may enjoy more peace and quiet under AB384. It exempts engineers from having to blow whistles while going through a "quiet zone" designated by federal regulation.

Sandoval also signed AB258, designed to position the Silver State for Internet gambling.

The bill directs the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations to implement Internet gambling in the state to be ready if the federal government ever allows it.

Online gambling has been mired in controversy since the U.S. Justice Department indicted executives of three top online poker sites April 15, charging them with violating federal law. In its original form, AB258 would have prohibited state regulators from denying a license to existing online poker sites. That provision was deleted.

School districts could reduce paid school days for Nevada teachers under AB117. The law allows school districts to trim up to five days of non-instructional days from the mandated 180-day school year during the biennium.

Districts would be allowed to flex their muscles if it would prevent teacher and administrator layoffs.

The superintendent of public instruction would have final say on whether districts could go ahead with the plan.

The original bill would have allowed the school year to be cut by 10 days. Lawmakers, however, reduced that to five and mandated that any days cut would be non-instructional days so that students don't miss time from the classroom.

SB236 requires the Nevada Department of Transportation to adopt policies for using recyclable materials, such as recycles rubber from tires, in highway projects.

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