Legislative Briefs for May 31

Assembly votes to promote paying with plastic

(AP) - Paying bills to the State of Nevada could be getting easier.

Members of the Nevada Assembly passed a bill Saturday promoting credit and debit card use among state agencies. The bill requires agencies to make contracts to accept electronic payments unless it would be impractical.

Democratic Assemblywoman Debbie Smith of Sparks says it will help move the state more in line with consumer habits.

Smith says Nevada faced $400,000 in returned checks in a single quarter. Letting consumers use cards could ease the problem.

One obstacle in the switch from paper checks to plastic cards is transaction fees. The state needs to negotiate reasonable fees with credit card companies to avoid runaway costs for consumers.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Assembly raises fine on poaching trophy animals

(AP) - Nevada lawmakers are cracking down on poaching the most sought after prize animals.

Members of the Assembly passed a bill Saturday raising the fines for illegally killing a trophy big game mammal to at least $5,000 and no more than $30,000.

Animals in the trophy category include black bears, mountain goats, certain bighorn sheep and deer with outside antlers measuring at least 2 feet.

The proposed law sets a fine for killing a regular big game animal at $250 to $5,000. Animals in that class include a moose, bobcat, swan or eagle.

The bill also calls for the Board of Wildlife Commissioners to adopt a policy about taking antlers naturally shed by a deer.

Senators already approved the bill in April.

Lawmakers approve bill to tally death penalty cost

(AP) - Lawmakers are putting the death penalty under financial scrutiny.

Senators approved AB501 with an 11-10 vote Saturday. The bill charges the state with the responsibility of tallying the cost of the state's death penalty. The assessment would include costs associated with pre-trial preparation and the trial itself. It would also include the cost of post-conviction proceedings, which encompasses challenges to the conviction and the competency of the defense.

Nevada has never tallied the cost.

During a hearing on the bill, supporters cited a 2008 study from the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice that found life without parole cost California taxpayers $11.5 million a year, compared with $137 million for those on death row.

The bill returns to the Assembly.

Lawmakers approve campus gun bill

(AP) - The Nevada Senate has voted 15-6 to allow anyone who has a permit to carry concealed weapons to bring them on college campuses.

Current law prohibits concealed weapons on campus without the approval of the institution's president.

Sen. John Lee of North Las Vegas told the chamber before Saturday's vote that the legislation would send a message to potential predators that people may be armed and could serve as a deterrent.

Sen. Sheila Leslie of Reno argued the bill is unnecessary because campuses are safe. She said SB231 would introduce danger to campuses instead of eliminating it.

Arizona defeated a similar proposal in April.

The bill now goes to the Assembly.

Bill gives gov more say in wildlife director

(AP) - A bill giving the governor more clout when picking the state wildlife director has been approved by the Nevada Senate.

AB322 is a response to the dust up between current commissioners appointed by former Gov. Jim Gibbons and acting Department of Wildlife Director Ken Mayer. Gibbons fired Mayer late last year just before he left office. Gov. Brian Sandoval re-instated Mayer as acting director in January.

When filling the director's job, existing law says the governor shall appoint someone from candidates recommended by the commission.

AB322 strikes that language and gives the governor sole authority to make an appointment.

The bill also strengthens qualifications for a conservation representative on the nine-member commission.

The measure was amended by the Senate and now returns to the Assembly.


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