More than 700 legislative bills up for hearings in next 2 weeks | NevadaAppeal.com
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More than 700 legislative bills up for hearings in next 2 weeks

Lawmakers have just two weeks to process 707 proposed laws.

The deadline for committee decisions on all legislation in the house of origin is April 15, and both Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, say they intend to stick to that deadline. That means anything left in committee after that date is automatically dead.

There are actually 889 bills still in Senate and Assembly committees, but the 107 in Ways and Means and the 75 in Senate Finance are exempt from the deadline because of their impact on the budget.

That leaves 316 bills on the Senate side and 391 on the Assembly side which must be out of committee in two weeks.

Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Lorne Malkiewich said Friday that is within a dozen bills of the total introduced during the 2003 Legislature. The difference is that, because of the logjam in LCB’s Legal Division, the majority of those bills were introduced in the past two weeks, instead of during the first two weeks of the session.

Of the 1,153 bills introduced thus far, hearings have been held on 280, committees have voted to kill 17 bills, and 247 have been reported out for a vote by either the Assembly or Senate.

But a total of 609 legislative proposals have yet to be heard in committee.

“It’s our intention to hear them,” said Raggio of the 264 legislative proposals awaiting consideration by Senate Committees. “We will hold night meetings. We may meet Saturdays, but we will give all of them consideration.”

At least two of his key committee chairs, however, indicated some bills may quietly die. Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, advised other senators Friday that the Government Affairs Committee will begin the process today by prioritizing its workload and determining what will receive a hearing.

Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said he would begin by rolling duplicate bills into one and, if one is in the Senate and the other in the Assembly, deciding which body would hear the proposal. He said bills containing the same concept would also be put together and heard as a group.

But Townsend indicated not everything is guaranteed a hearing.

That sentiment was echoed by Perkins.

“We don’t need 1,200 new laws every two years,” he said. “If it’s been here six times and gone down in flames six times, it’s going to get a low priority.”

Both Perkins and Townsend said the most important are bills sought by constituents who need help.

“This is a people process,” said Perkins.

“Bills requested by constituents, we want to listen to that,” Townsend said.

Perkins said his concerns are Commerce and Labor with 48 bills to hear, Government Affairs with 53, and Judiciary with 45. But with Commerce and Labor chaired by Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, and Judiciary and Government Affairs under control of veterans Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, and David Parks, D-Las Vegas, respectively, Perkins said he has no worries the job will get done.

On the Senate side, the biggest backlogs of bills to be heard are 41 in Government Affairs and 40 in Judiciary.

Malkiewich said April 15 will eliminate the bills that don’t make it out of committee. He said the next big deadline is April 26, when all bills without an exemption are supposed to be voted on by the house of origin.

“For the next couple of weeks, they’re going to be very busy, but after that, we’ll be back on schedule,” he said.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.