Nevada Senate committee votes to ratify Equal Rights Amendment |

Nevada Senate committee votes to ratify Equal Rights Amendment

The resolution that would add Nevada to the list of states calling for addition of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution won its first battle Wednesday when, with little discussion, the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee voted 4-1 to send it to the Senate floor.

The only dissenting vote was by Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden.

The other Republican on the five-member committee, Heidi Gansert of Reno, voted for the ERA ratification.

Gansert first proposed an amendment to the resolution that would ask Congress to ensure the ERA didn’t implicate the debate over abortion. But Chairwoman Nicole Cannizzaro of Las Vegas, joined by Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes, told her that would essentially be asking Congress to start the process all over again because Nevada’s resolution wouldn’t match those approved by the other 35 states that have ratified ERA.

Gansert then pointed out she’s celebrating the fact 40 percent of Nevada lawmakers this session are female and there have been great strides in reducing sex discrimination over the years.

“Having rights is critically important,” Gansert said, “so I’m going to be supporting the resolution.”

The committee heard more than three hours of testimony on the resolution Monday afternoon and into the evening with both proponents and opponents passionately pushing their cause.

One of the issues raised during that debate was whether the ERA act by Congress was time-barred because the deadline for ratification by the necessary three-quarters — 38 — of the states expired in 1982. But Erdoes essentially said the way the congressional action was structured, Congress has the power to extend the deadline again as it did nearly four decades ago.

Nonetheless, Settelmeyer said he couldn’t support ratification because, “to me we’re not following procedure.”

“I would much prefer to see Congress restart the process,” he said.

SJR2 goes to the floor of the Senate for action and, if approved, to the Assembly.

This is the fourth session ERA ratification has been before the Nevada Legislature. It passed the Assembly twice in the 1970s and the Senate in 1977. All three times, it failed to win approval in the second house.

If Nevada ratifies the ERA this session, it will put the proposed amendment just two short of the magic number to actually change the constitution.