Nevada Legislature: Police investigation bill delayed |

Nevada Legislature: Police investigation bill delayed

Associated Press Writer

A bill to expand investigative powers of police before they’re armed with a search warrant from a Nevada judge was held up Tuesday because of the constitutional concerns it raised.

Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Chairman Mike Schneider said he’ll meet with Senate Judiciary Chairman Terry Care to see whether SB51 belongs in Judiciary rather than Schneider’s panel. Judiciary normally handles all measures dealing with constitutional issues.

Schneider commented after advocates and opponents of SB51 argued in Schneider’s committee over the merits of the proposal, sought by the Nevada Department of Public Safety.

Under current law, police can subpoena a public utility to get the name and address of a person listed in utility records. SB51 would expand the information to include incoming and outgoing phone call records, power usage records, a person’s birth date, Social Security or passport number, family contacts or “any additional identifying information” that a utility might have.

Deputy Washoe County Public Defender Orrin Johnson argued that the bill was too broad and would violate the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Johnson said his big concern was how the bill would be used, if it became law, by “the small minority of police officials that may be inclined to abuse their powers” by what’s now considered unauthorized snooping.

Scott Jackson, chief of the investigations division, argued that SB51 is constitutional and in line with a court ruling that has held there’s no valid expectation of privacy for information a power company gets from customers. But Johnson countered that a more recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling holds otherwise.