Legislature faces Friday the 13th deadline | NevadaAppeal.com

Legislature faces Friday the 13th deadline

BRENDAN RILEY
Associated Press Writer

The 10th week of the 2007 Nevada Legislature, which opens Monday, will end with some bad luck for hundreds of bills not expected to survive a Friday the 13th deadline for committee approval.

Under the lawmakers’ rules, Friday is the last day for all Assembly committees to vote on any Assembly measures that have not yet been acted upon, and for all Senate panels to decide on any of their Senate bills in the same status.

Measures that are left in the committees, with some exceptions, by the end of the day Friday are dead for the session – unless their sponsors can get their concepts resurrected in the form of an amendment to another bill that survived the deadline.

More than 270 measures died at the same point in the 2005 session – a fourth of all bills introduced that year. This year, the same scenario is possible for roughly the same number.

In advance of the deadline, committees will hold marathon work sessions to act on bills they’ve already heard. They also will try to complete hearings on measures that have not yet been fully debated and decide on those measures.

Monday’s hearings include a Senate Finance hearing on SJR7, which would amend the Nevada Constitution to add provisions of the Tax and Spending Control, or TASC, initiative that was stripped from the 2006 ballot by the state Supreme Court.

The government spending plan proposed to limit local and state government spending increases by using a formula based on the rate of inflation.

Also on the Finance agenda is SB416, which would create a fund to stabilize operations of Nevada’s public schools.

A Senate Government Affairs subcommittee will again review SB123, which started out as a plan to require government agencies to respond in two business days to a public records request. Proposed amendments would change that to anywhere from five to 10 days.

Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee plans a work session on several bills, including AB115, a scaled-back plan to increase inspections of mercury emissions at mining operations; and Assembly Government Affairs will hear AB601, which provides for collective bargaining for state employees.

Senate Government Affairs reviews SB514, establishing the Monte Cristo state park in Esmeralda County; and SB508, which would set up a state Office of Security Information.

Senate Human Resources and Education considers SB398, setting up a pilot program for English immersion in public schools; and SB415, which tightens rules to prevent illegal immigrants from getting the state’s higher-education scholarships.

On Tuesday, a joint Senate-Assembly budget panel reviews funding plans for Nevada’s public schools. Critics say funding plans from both Democrats and Republicans would still leave the state near the bottom among all states in terms of per-pupil support.

Senate Taxation will debate SB324, a measure aimed at helping to resolve a $3.8 billion shortfall in road construction funds. Lobbying efforts in support of the measure include a Carson City billboard stating “Detour Ahead: State Road Budget Missing,” and billboards in Las Vegas stating “Get your head out of the asphalt.”

Senate Legislative Operations and Elections reviews SB494, which revises the periods for reporting campaign contributions and expenditures; and SB492, which provides a process for verifying electronic tabulation of votes.

Among the many work-session meetings is a Senate Judiciary session on about 20 measures, including SB85 on eminent domain proceedings; SB232 and SB471, dealing with sex offenders; and SJR2 dealing with judicial selection.

Also on Judiciary’s agenda are SB204 on grandparents’ rights to visit grandchildren; SB302, which would stop credit card companies from raising interest rates when consumers fail to make car payments or pay power bills on time; and SB542, expanding a state homestead exemption.

On Wednesday, Senate Finance plans to close various budgets and to review several bills, including SB248 which boosts annual base pay of justices of the state Supreme Court from $140,000 to $182,000; and SB333 and SB460, which appropriate funds for a new White Pine County courthouse.

Assembly Ways and Means also will close budgets, and review various bills including AB170, which would tighten the qualifications for the state’s Millennium Scholarships.

Assembly Commerce and Labor reviews AB532, which restricts credit or debit card fees and imposes $5,000 penalties for violations; and AB446, which revises the way in which prescriptions for controlled substances are tracked.

On Thursday, a joint Senate-Assembly budget panel will review the Nevada System of Higher Education budget. Cuts in the system’s budget, suggested by the governor as part of an effort to balance state spending, have been rejected by the system’s chancellor, Jim Rogers, as destructive to higher education in Nevada.

Also Thursday, Assembly Taxation considers AB588 which reduces some of the state taxes imposed on banks and other businesses; and Assembly Transportation takes up AB583, authorizing local governments to operate toll roads and toll bridges.

On Friday, as the committee action deadline hits, Senate Finance will make decisions on numerous measures, including SB453 which extends a slot tax that funds a problem gambling program.

Several other committees also have scheduled work sessions and budget closings, among them Assembly Taxation, Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Commerce and Labor.