Bills sail through as deadline met
Associated Press Writer
The flood gates opened and legislation poured through Tuesday, as Nevada lawmakers rushed to pass dozens of bills before a procedural deadline.
Bills not passed through the Assembly or the Senate – and not deemed exempt – by end of business Tuesday were declared dead.
That meant a day of quick votes in the Assembly, where majority Democrats steamrolled over minority Republicans to pass a package of bills aimed at curbing hospital costs.
In the Senate, a homeland security bill sparked debate on how to balance security with the state’s sunshine law.
SB115 would allow local governments and some advisory boards to hold closed meetings to discuss homeland security and terrorism. Over Democrats’ opposition, it passed, 13-7.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the bill would require two-thirds of the board to vote in favor of closing the meeting – what he called a very high standard.
But Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, said he didn’t see the need for a part-time board to discuss homeland security in private.
“I don’t see any accountability here,” he said, adding that the legislation could easily be abused and boards could discuss other issues behind closed doors.
Democrats in the Assembly took advantage of their hefty majority – moving swiftly through a long list of bills with little debate and abbreviated remarks.
Republicans registered opposition to three measures – AB296, AB322 and AB342 – billed as “cost-containment” proposals by Democrats.
The proposals require hospitals with more than 100 beds to spend 4 percent of their profits on indigent care or community reinvestment. They require hospitals run by out-of-state corporations to file more detailed reports on their earnings, and mandate that all major hospitals give patients more information on their pricing.
“The idea is if we have more information we’re going be able to regulate them better,” said Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno. “I’m hoping that information will help us get at whatever the root cause is of Nevadans having to pay the top hospital costs in the nation.”
Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, objected to requiring hospitals to contribute a set percentage of profits without considering a hospital’s financial health. He said more financial reporting won’t lead to lower costs, but could place a burden on rural hospitals.