Lawmakers to tackle health care, open-records laws this week | NevadaAppeal.com

Lawmakers to tackle health care, open-records laws this week

BRENDAN RILEY
Associated Press Writer

The fourth week of the Legislature opens today with an Assembly panel’s review of plans to improve access to health care and a Senate committee’s look at a measure to upgrade the state’s open-records laws.

The plans being discussed by Assembly Health and Human Services would help small businesses provide health-care coverage to their employees, boost insurance coverage for children and working pregnant women, and set up a Web site and phone services to give Nevadans information on hospital costs and quality.

Senate Government Affairs will look at SB123, proposed by Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, which would improve open records laws by setting specific timetables to prevent officials from stalling or doing nothing when requested to hand over such documents.

SB123 provides that a government agency that gets a record request must within two business days after the request allow the access to the records.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., will speak to lawmakers on Monday. Berkley, recently elected to a fifth two-year term, now has a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee as a result of the Democrats’ takeover of Congress in the November elections.

Also today, Assembly Government Affairs will continue its review of AB94, which would repeal a 2005 law that limits public involvement in many state licensing hearings, including hearings on permits for some mining and farm activity.

On Tuesday, Senate Transportation and Homeland Security takes up SB61, a “photo cop” proposal that would let authorities set up a pilot program using cameras to catch drivers running red lights or committing other traffic offenses. A variation, labeled by critics as a Big Brother plan, was shelved by lawmakers in 2005.

Also on the agenda is SB42, which makes failure to wear a seat belt in a vehicle a primary offense. That would change current law which lets police write tickets for seat belt violations only if they’ve stopped a driver for another violation.

Assembly Judiciary will take up AB92 and AB99, dealing with genetic- marker testing. The measures require, among other things, that anyone convicted of a felony go through such tests. Failure to do so could lead to another felony charge.

Also Tuesday, Senate Judiciary will review SB30, providing for early release of some prisoners from county or city jails to relieve overcrowding; and SB33, which requires managers of gated communities to give parole and probation officers entry codes or devices so they can check up on parolees or probationers.

On Wednesday, Assembly Education and Judiciary committees and Senate Human Resources and Education will hear from Keith Schwer, who runs the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and who also represents Nevada Kids Counts. A recent Kids Counts report said the overall well-being of Nevada’s children has slipped in comparison to other states due to an increase in the number of teen deaths and poor children.

An Assembly-Senate budget subcommittee will review the state Office of Homeland Security, headed by Larry Martines who, prior to taking his state post, had overseas security assignments with the CIA. Also being reviewed is the state Department of Public Safety, headed by Phil Galeoto.

Senate Commerce and Labor will review SB114, a bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, that would classify power plants that burn tires as renewable energy systems, for purposes of meeting minimum state requirements for “green” energy production. The typical renewable systems rely on solar, wind or geothermal energy sources.

Also Wednesday, Senate Judiciary discusses three proposals to limit eminent domain powers – all part of a multi-pronged response to a 2006 ballot initiative with stronger language. Besides SB16, SB85 and SB130 in the Senate, the Assembly also has measures dealing with the issue.

On Thursday, one of the Assembly measures dealing with eminent domain, AJR2, is up for review in Assembly Constitutional amendments.

Also Thursday, Assembly Judiciary will review AB19, a bill targeting a 2005 Nevada Supreme Court ruling that raised the burden of proof for charging co-conspirators with certain crimes.

On Friday, a Senate-Assembly budget panel will review numerous building projects proposed by the state Department of Corrections. Gov. Jim Gibbons has recommended $300 million in prison construction over the next two years.