Legislature Briefs | NevadaAppeal.com

Legislature Briefs

(AP) – The state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday for a limited voucher measure that would allow special education students to attend private schools.

SB158, introduced by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, now moves to the state Assembly for final legislative action.

In earlier testimony, Cegavske said her “special needs scholarship” bill would allow children with individualized education programs to enroll in private schools and public schools other than those that they are zoned to attend.

Cegavske said children with special needs require a higher degree of individualized attention than students in regular education programs, so it’s preferable to provide the widest array of options to special-needs students when selecting a school.

Under SB158, the Department of Education would administer the program. The agency would be responsible for granting, revoking and certifying the eligibility of the participating schools. The eligible school chosen by the parents would get the proportionate cost of the public funding to provide instruction to the child.

Governor signs eminent domain compromise bill

(AP) – A compromise plan that restricts government agencies’ use of eminent domain to acquire property was signed into law Wednesday by Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Supporters of the compromise say AB102 provides strong protections against government abuses of eminent domain powers while still providing the option for large public works, such as transportation projects.

AB102 has the same provisions as AJR3, but will take effect immediately. AJR3 is a proposed constitutional amendment, and will have to be approved again by the 2009 Legislature before advancing to a statewide vote in 2010.

Supporters say the proposals are an improvement over last year’s Question 2, called the People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of our Land or PISTOL by its supporters. Along with establishing its own protections in eminent domain cases, AJR3 would supersede PISTOL if approved by voters.

PISTOL was one of several initiatives affecting property rights around the country bankrolled by Howie Rich, a New York real estate investor with ties to libertarian groups. The initiative goes further than the two legislative proposals, mandating the highest possible payments for blighted land that can be taken through eminent domain.

Lawmakers who pushed the compromise say it includes more evenhanded terms for valuing property, agreed to by both government lawyers and PISTOL supporters. The compromise also allows state officials 15 years to complete projects on land taken under eminent domain, instead of the five years allowed under PISTOL.

Gibbons also signed:

• AB279, requiring the value of unused gift cards to revert to the state to help fund education programs. Under the plan, unused gift card value will become abandoned property available to the state either on its expiration date or if not used after three years.

• SB269, which gives rights to military bases to appeal land-use decisions made by local governments that affect the bases.