Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoes bills limiting lawsuits against businesses

Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed two bills that aimed to limit the liability of businesses and other parties involved in civil actions.

Senate Bill 296 would have barred punitive or exemplary damages in certain civil actions. Sandoval said the legislation would have limited the ability of Nevadans “to hold others fully accountable for any harm they may have caused and any harm they may cause in the future.”

“Punitive damages serve to deter entities from engaging in unsafe business practices,” he wrote. “Therefore, I veto this bill and return it without my signature or approval.”

He also vetoed SB161, which would have prohibited civil actions against certain businesses for selling products that later prove to be dangerous or faulty when the seller isn’t the manufacturer and has no control over the product’s quality.

Opponents argued those manufacturers are likely foreign and it would be almost impossible to sue them for damages so the local business selling the product is the only recourse the buyer has.

“The bill as drafted does not promote the interests of all Nevada consumers,” Sandoval wrote in his veto message.

Both of those measures were promoted by the conservative Republican majority in the Legislature on behalf of business interests.

Finally, Sandoval vetoed SB183, which would have lifted restrictions on the expansion of small limousine services.

Currently, those small companies have to get the Nevada Transportation Authority’s permission to add cars. They wanted that changed because they argue the authority follows the wishes of the large limo companies and routinely denies them permission to add vehicles. The big companies, however, are exempt from that requirement and can add cars anytime they wish.

Sandoval cited safety considerations in vetoing the measure saying the transportation authority must retain the ability to ensure operators have the resources to transport the public safely.

The governor signed 71 bills Tuesday, pushing the number of bills signed to 500.

AB278, which requires state education officials to keep a closer eye on the more than $300 million Nevada will be spending in the next two years to reduce class sizes. The bill requires the Nevada Department of Education to help districts develop plans to reduce class sizes, and the state must monitor the plans and quarterly reports about class size. The bill comes after an audit found little accountability with class size reduction funds, and that 84 percent of schools have waivers that allow them to exceed the class size ratios set in law.

SB406, which slightly reduces the amount that the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System will pay out to recipients who join on July 1, 2015, or later, and prevents public workers from collecting benefits after certain felony convictions. Roberson, the bill’s sponsor, estimates the bill will save $1 billion over 10 years.

SB491, which creates the Charter Harbor Master program aimed at attracting high-quality charter school management organizations to Nevada to serve children in poverty. A budget committee approved $10 million over two years to fund the program, which would match funding provided by the organization itself.

SB168, which allows local governments to renegotiate union contracts during fiscal emergencies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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