Lawmakers discuss homelessness, child welfare | NevadaAppeal.com

Lawmakers discuss homelessness, child welfare

BRENDAN RILEY
Associated Press Writer

Today may be Presidents Day, but it won’t be a holiday for Nevada lawmakers who open the third week of the 2007 session with hearings on homeless people, price-gouging, child-protection efforts, public school funding and other major issues.

Assembly Health and Human Services will hear a presentation on causes of homelessness and plans for housing for homeless people. Proponents of the legislation will include people who planned to set up a “tent city” Sunday and sleep overnight in tents and cardboard boxes outside the Legislature.

Also today, a Senate Commerce and Labor subcommittee will discuss SB82, which would classify sudden price spikes of more than 25 percent that aren’t tied to market forces as deceptive trade practices. The measure would apply when disasters occur.

Today’s hearings also include a Senate Human Resources and Education meeting on S8, which says that repeated misuse of drugs or alcohol by someone responsible for a child’s welfare is evidence of negligent treatment.

The same committee will get a report from state schools chief Keith Rheault on Nevada’s public education system and the way in which it’s funded.

A joint Senate-Assembly budget subcommittee will review funding for the Child and Family Services Division, which has faced criticism for not keeping tabs on child deaths in Southern Nevada. Another budget panel will look at the state Department of Business and Industry.

Also today, Assembly Judiciary will review AB81, which increases penalties for graffiti.

On Tuesday, a joint budget committee will review funding for the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is seeking an extra $30 million over the next two years to cover costs of the federally mandated Real ID program, which will require Nevadans to apply for new, tamper-proof driver’s licenses.

Assembly Elections, Procedures and Ethics will study AB80, a bill that would require limited liability corporations that engage in lobbying to register with the secretary of state’s office. The bill is a key part of the Democrats’ agenda for ethics-in-government reform.

Assembly Judiciary plans a hearing on measures dealing with unfit parents and domestic relations; while Assembly Transportation will review the Las Vegas Monorail, which saw its ridership drop almost a third in 2006.

Also Tuesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will speak to a joint Assembly-Senate session. Reid played a major role in turning Nevada into an early presidential caucus state.

On Wednesday, as a result of Nevada’s early-caucus status, most major presidential candidates will be at a forum in Carson City, and many also will make appearances at the Legislature.

U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., also will be at the Legislature on Wednesday, delivering a speech to a joint session a few hours after the nationally prominent Democrats depart.

Also Wednesday, Assembly Government Affairs will hear a presentation by the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The water agency is seeking state permission to develop a massive pipeline system that will carry water from rural areas of the state to booming Las Vegas.

Senate Human Resources will review various state university system budgets, including spending for nursing education and health science programs; and Senate Judiciary will review measures dealing with parental rights.

Also Wednesday, a joint budget subcommittee will hear more on the state Public Employees Benefit Program, which is looking for solutions to a projected $4.1 long-term unfunded liability; while another budget panel will review various state Health Division services and programs.

On Thursday, a joint budget committee will hear a presentation on prison growth and review the budget for the Department of Corrections. The agency wants a 29 percent budget increase and plans on a major expansion to deal with overcrowding.

Assembly Elections, Procedures and Ethics will look at AJR1, a “three strikes and you’re out” measure designed to strengthen ethics-in-government rules. Under the plan, elected officials would have to give up their posts if they violate three or more ethics rules.

Also on Thursday, Assembly Taxation will hear AB82, which would repeal an excise tax on banks and lower other business taxes.

On Friday, Assembly Government Affairs will review AB94, which would repeal a little-noticed 2005 law that limits public involvement in many state licensing hearings.

Also Friday, Senate Human Resources will consider SB52, which creates a teaching scholarship program; and Senate Judiciary will get a report on parole and probation programs in the state.