Lawmakers wrapping up business as session nears end
CARSON CITY ” The 2009 Nevada Legislature neared adjournment late Monday, with weary Nevada lawmakers cobbling together last-minute compromises, overriding Gov. Jim Gibbons’ record number of vetoes and shipping him dozens of Senate- and Assembly-approved bills.
Legislators wrapped up work on a high-profile package of renewable energy bills, voting for SB395, which encourages “green” development and reduced greenhouse gas emissions and requires energy efficiency standards for state buildings.
Also among the last-day actions was final approval of AB140, part of an effort to help ease Nevada’s highest-in-the-nation foreclosure rate. AB140 requires notice to renters that a property is in foreclosure, and requires notice to the state if a licensed health facility faces foreclosure.
Lawmakers also took final votes on SB269, which provides, among other things, for immediate license suspensions of medical professionals convicted of felonies. The measure is a response to a hepatitis C outbreak in Las Vegas caused by shoddy injection practices.
Among the measures nearing final approval was SB52, a bill to bring the state into line with terms of the federal Real ID Act. Critics said there was potential for “Orwellian” intrusions into Nevadans’ privacy, but were outnumbered by proponents. The bill passed in the Senate and moved to the Assembly for action.
Lawmakers gave final approval to a bill granting state workers some collective bargaining rights ” excluding talks on wages or other economic matters. Critics said AB395 ran counter to Nevada’s status as a right-to-work state, while unions viewed it as a major step toward eventually getting broader negotiating rights for the employees.
Also Monday, a plan to prohibit Nevada motorists, including police and emergency personnel, from text-messaging on cell phones while driving was resurrected. The proposal, which died earlier, replaced wording in SB309, which had dealt with motorcycles and mopeds.
Lawmakers also worked on an 11th-hour plan to revive part of a once-rejected proposal to roll back a voter-approved smoking ban in public places. An amendment tacked onto AB309, which deals with stalking, allows smoking at tobacco trade conventions.
The legislators’ total of successful veto overrides rose to a record 25. More were expected before adjournment on the session’s 120th day. The first-term Republican governor vetoed a record 41 bills, out of nearly 1,000 sent to him by legislators.
The completed override votes included one enacting SB283, providing various legal rights for domestic partners, and another enacting AB562, the $6.8 billion appropriations act which funds state government operations for the next two fiscal years.
Also rejected was Gibbons’ veto of AB463, aimed at blocking unwarranted use of high-priced consultants by state agencies; and his rejection of AB121, calling for hospital staffing plans to ensure adequate nurse-to-patient ratios and safety of patients.
Legislators also overrode Gibbons’ veto of AB493, a plan to track investments by the state Public Employees’ Retirement System into Iran’s oil-energy industry; and his veto of AB304, which requires spending of millions of dollars in redevelopment funds to reopen F Street in Las Vegas.
Several of Gibbons’ vetoes were upheld, among them his rejection of AB458, which sets up a rainy-day fund for public education, hard hit by the economic downturn.
The old mark of 33 vetoes had been set by Gov. H.G. Blasdel shortly after Nevada became a state in 1864. Blasdel also had held the record for overrides in one session, with 10.
Besides the legislative work, there were many speeches honoring the seven senators and 10 Assembly members in their final sessions because of term-limits.
The outgoing legislators include Sens. Maurice Washington, Terry Care, Maggie Carlton, Bob Coffin, Mark Amodei, Bernice Mathews and Randolph Townsend; and Assembly members Barbara Buckley, Bernie Anderson, Morse Arberry, Jerry Claborn, Ellen Koivisto, Mark Manendo, Kathy McClain, Harry Mortensen, John Carpenter and Sheila Leslie.