Lawmakers mull costs of open records, sex offender bills | NevadaAppeal.com

Lawmakers mull costs of open records, sex offender bills

JOE MULLIN
Associated Press Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, left, and Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, talk Friday at the Legislature. Titus is sponsoring a bill that would establish distance requirements, mandate GPS tracking and lengthen sentences for certain sex offenders.
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Lawmakers on a key Senate panel considered the costs of various proposals Friday, including bills on public records requests and tracking sex offenders.

When Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, first proposed SB123, a bill that would mandate timely responses to public record requests, several government agencies responded with cost concerns.

That led to amendments including a provision to give agencies five days to respond rather than two.

Only one agency, the state Department of Transportation, told the Senate Finance Committee that it still expected higher costs from the bill. NDOT would need to hire two extra workers to comply with record requests, said Richard Yeoman, the agency’s records custodian.

Care said he was confident about support for the bill, and questioned why agencies would demand more money to comply with the proposal.

“I don’t understand why they would need two additional people,” said Care. “There shouldn’t be a price tag on open records.”

Finance Chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the committee would check in with other agencies that reported costs concerns previously to see if those concerns still exist.

Care proposed the bill after hearing reports of agencies simply ignoring requests for public records from journalists and others. The bill does not change which records are public, but it does say that if only part of a record is confidential – a social security number, for example – agencies must redact the confidential section and provide the rest of the record.

Last month, the Senate Government Affairs committee amended the bill to exclude documents from the state Gaming Control Board, over Care’s objections. Raggio argued that agency’s investigations are so wide-ranging that its documents include personal information about licensees that the public has no interest in knowing.

The committee also discussed the fiscal impact of SB232, a bill by Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, that would establish distance requirements, mandate GPS tracking and lengthens sentences for certain sex offenders.

The state will start small with the GPS tracking, a new technology which is not cheap. The bill was amended to provide monitoring for 40 of the state’s most at-risk offenders, at a cost of just over $500,000 which is included in the governor’s budget, said Mark Woods of the state Department of Public Safety.

“There’s a lot of issues with GPS,” said Woods. “We would like to work with the Legislature on this and gather the information from this program.” He added that the 2009 Legislature could decide whether to continue the monitoring.

The monitoring costs will be partially paid for by offenders who can afford it, said Titus.

The longer sentences cost money too, and that should be considered together with a more comprehensive look at the state’s sentencing structure, she said.