Bill is aimed at clarifying candidate residency rules

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A Democratic and a Republican leader in the Assembly showed bipartisan support Friday for a bill to clarify a sometimes-perplexing question: Where does a candidate actually live?

Assembly Bill 407, co-sponsored by Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, and Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, is aimed at lending guidance to candidate residency, establishing legislative intent and providing an avenue to resolve residency issues when they arise.

The bill defines a person’s residence as the place where he or she “actually, physically and corporeally” resides.

In last year’s election, Republican candidate Kelly Hurst challenged the residency of Democratic candidate Andrew Martin in the District 9 Assembly race in Las Vegas. On the eve of the general election, a judge ruled Martin’s candidacy invalid because he didn’t reside in the district. Among other things, the judge said the home where Martin charged his electric vehicle constituted his home — and it was outside the district.

But early voting was already completed, the election was the next day, and Martin went on to win.

“This is an issue that did not just happen last election cycle,” Kirkpatrick told members of the Assembly Government Affairs Committee. “It’s been going on quite some time .... whether Democrat or Republican, north or south.”

Kirkpatrick said residency should show involvement in the community.

“For me, it’s important that I know the school in my district, that my neighbor just had a baby,” she said.

Hickey agreed.

“I think by making it much more specific, you’re not going to able to skirt the law and create a shadow residence,” he said.

The state Constitution gives the Assembly and Senate jurisdiction to determine the qualifications of their own members. Hurly did not pose a formal challenge, citing state law that could have left him responsible for all legal costs if he lost his appeal.

The bill would eliminate that portion of the law.

“It would allow someone to challenge without being afraid of the potential costs,” Hickey said.

Hurly called that provision “a major win for this bill.”

AB407 would also take jurisdiction away from the court to decide residency, leaving it to the Assembly and Senate.

The committee took no action on the bill Friday.


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