Nevada lawmakers OK anti-terrorism bill
June 4, 2003
Anti-terrorism measures imposing stiff new penalties and forming a state Commission on Homeland Security won final legislative approval early Tuesday in the Nevada Senate.
AB250 had been revised to narrow the definition of a terrorist act and terror weapons, and has support of both Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno. The two had pushed their own bills early in the legislative session, but Raggio’s measure stalled in the Assembly.
The Assembly bill classifies terrorist killings as first-degree murder punishable by the death penalty, allowing for prosecutions no matter how many years it takes to catch a suspected terrorist.
It outlaws toxins or materials which may cause “death or substantial bodily harm,” contamination of food or water or other environmental damage. It imposes new penalties for hoaxes and terrorist threats and criminalizes aiding terrorists and storing or shipping any weapons of mass destruction.
The bill specifically states an intent to protect constitutional free speech rights and notes that civil disobedience is not terrorism. It also requires Nevada’s resort hotels to develop and file emergency response plans with local police and firefighters.
AB250 moved to the governor for his signature as the Senate accepted a Senate-Assembly conference report on the bill. The Assembly had accepted the same report on Sunday.
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Late Monday, the Assembly gave final approval to Perkins’ other counterterrorism measure establishing the Nevada Commission on Homeland Security. AB441 requires local governments to develop emergency response plans, and directs the commission to review those plans.
One of the more contentious sections of the bill requires local governments and law enforcement agencies to purchase and use communications equipment that works on a statewide basis. Some local governments said the requirement could be costly and difficult for them to implement.
Under the bill, the 14-member commission could hold closed hearings when discussing sensitive security plans. The governor also could establish some documents as confidential if their release would compromise public health or safety.
Also included are requirements that governmental entities purchase and place external defibrillators in various places, including airports, schools and sporting venues.