Lawmakers leave 263 bills behind | NevadaAppeal.com

Lawmakers leave 263 bills behind

When the dust cleared after Friday’s deadline, a total of 263 bills had died.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said that is about the same number that died at this point in the 2005 Legislature.

And the champion legislation killer was the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, which Chairman Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, says left more than half the measures referred there – 37 out of 70 – unprocessed.

Assembly Judiciary wasn’t far behind, killing 36 bills out of the 104 referred there.

And under the rules adopted by both houses, any measure without a specific exemption not processed out of committee in the house of origin by Friday is dead.

“There were a lot of duplicates,” he said. “I mean, how many bills on a subject do we need? On some issues we had four or five bills.”

Altogether, Senate committees declined to process a total of 104 bills. Assembly committees left a total of 159 pieces of legislation behind.

Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, said there were a number of duplicates on the list as well as bills that, for a variety of reasons, the sponsor asked to withdraw. And he said there were a few, such as one dealing with illegal immigration, that raised constitutional issues. That issue, he said, “really has to be solved at the national level.”

Assembly Commerce and Labor Chairman John Oceguera, D-Henderson, said his panel left 24 of 100 bills behind. In addition to the same duplications experienced by other committees, he candidly admitted some were simply “bad bills.”

Townsend said his panel had the same problem with some of the measures referred there.

“It’s very simple: A good piece of legislation is going to survive.”

In contrast to those committees, some panels approved a large percentage of the measures referred to them for review. Senate Judiciary and the Senate Human Resources and Education committees each left just eight bills behind by the close of business Friday. Judiciary Chairman Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, said 67 measures passed out because “there were four votes for them.”

Human Resources, Education Chairman Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, said in his case, the 72 bills that won committee support were largely those developed by the interim healthcare and education study committees. He said those bills had for the most part already won support from the agencies, clients and others involved in the issues.

Friday’s was the second in a series of self-imposed deadlines created to help lawmakers cope with the constitutional 120-day limit on the regular session. The next deadline is April 24, when all nonexempt legislation must clear the house where it originated.

Townsend said he wants fellow lawmakers to consider some changes in bill drafting rules to ease the deadline pressure and cut down on duplicate bills dealing with the same issue.

A good example of that problem this time, he said, is the number of bills dealing with government condemnation rules. When the parties reached a compromise, nearly a dozen different pieces of legislation died because they were no longer needed.

Townsend said the problem is legislative bill drafters draft each legislative request independently. If five lawmakers ask for the same bill, they draft five bills.

He said what needs to happen is that, when the first lawmaker files a request, that becomes the bill on that subject. Each successive requester is notified there is already a bill request in on that subject and the prime sponsor is told who is making the same request.

He said then everyone can get together, work it out and only one bill would be needed.

“Then they can try to bring the bill forward with most of the issues worked out,” he said.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

Future deadlines

April 24 – passage by the house of origin

May 4 – money committees begin resolving budget differences

May 18 – committee passage by the second house

May 25 – passage by the second house