2009 Legislature’s 180 plus bills put in place this week
Associated Press Writer
More than 180 new laws take effect in Nevada on July 1, including several measures aimed at curbing a crisis that put the state at the top of a national list for home foreclosures.
Other new laws that emerged from the 2009 Legislature include one to protect restaurants, hotel-casinos and other businesses that give away perishable foods to the needy; and others encouraging renewable energy development and requiring state buildings to adopt energy and water efficiency standards.
The foreclosure-related laws include AB149, which requires lenders to meet with homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Under the law, a homeowner who gets a foreclosure notice can request a meeting with lenders and a trained mediator in efforts to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.
A related law, AB140, makes it mandatory to notify renters that a property is in foreclosure, and to give renters 60 days notice to move out. The law also requires that a notice be served to the state Board of Health if a licensed health facility faces foreclosure.
Also, SB128 requires that a foreclosure sale must be recorded with the county recorder in a timely manner, to help keep track of the owner of a foreclosed home.
AB332 reduces the liability of restaurants, hotel-casinos and other businesses that give away perishable foods such as bread, hot or cold dishes and leftover buffet items. Though people in the restaurant industry and health officials can’t recall any recent lawsuits in Nevada over donated food, they said legal action has been brought in other states and the possibility was enough to keep people from donating.
“We want to give, but want to give without fear,” said attorney Kathy Pereira, whose husband runs a bakery in Las Vegas. “You cannot donate worrying that someone is going to file a lawsuit.”
Environment-related laws include AB18, which requires issuance of up to $100 million in general-obligation bonds to pay for environmental improvement projects at Lake Tahoe over the next 10 years.
Lake Tahoe’s famed water clarity has been declining and the bonds issued under AB18 will pay for projects to help stop that trend, says Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Also taking effect on July 1 are several law-and-order measures, including AB105, which lets authorities avoid getting a court order to get a DNA sample from anyone convicted of a felony. The bill’s author, Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, said the 2007 murder of Reno teenager Brianna Denison showed the importance of DNA testing. Gansert said hundreds of convicted felons weren’t getting DNA testing because a court order was required.
AB154 mandates that school districts establish policies barring criminal gang activity on school grounds. Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored AB154, said school district trustees already can establish such policies, but a mandate is needed because no part of Nevada is immune to gang activity.
“Sometimes school districts get a little complacent. Things might feel comfortable if nothing happens for a while,” said Munford, who spent 36 years teaching in Las Vegas-area schools. “Then something happens and then what?”
Lawmakers also approved SB267, aimed at ensuring open meeting laws are followed by government agencies when they revise their regulations. It requires public access to workshops and hearings of public agencies, along with meetings which already are open to the public. Documents relating to regulations have to be available at meetings.