New laws ready for January debut
Key elements of two dozen new Nevada laws take effect Jan. 1 – dealing with controls on telemarketers, anti-terrorism efforts, election reforms, problem gamblers and casino work cards.
The laws are among more than 500 measures passed by the 2003 Legislature during its regular session and in the two special sessions that followed before lawmakers finally adjourned last summer.
The new laws include part of AB232, dealing with “do not call” lists to help stop telemarketing sales pitches. A federal list took effect Oct. 1 but is under court challenge. AB232 lets the state attorney general use the national list as a way to bar telemarketing calls made within the state to Nevada residents.
Under the state law, Nevada has until Jan. 1 to decide if it will use the national registry or if it will create one. The attorney general’s office has said it will monitor the federal list to see if it’s working properly before determining if the state needs its own list.
Also taking effect are sections of AB441, which establishes the Nevada Commission on Homeland Security. The law requires local governments to develop emergency response plans and directs the commission to review those plans.
One of the more contentious sections of the law requires local governments and police to purchase and use communications equipment that works on a statewide basis. Some local governments said the requirement could be too costly and difficult for them to implement.
Under the law, the 14-member commission can hold closed hearings when discussing sensitive security plans. The governor also can designate some documents as confidential if he decides their release would compromise public health or safety.
Also taking effect Jan. 1 are parts of AB529, a law that wound up being used as the basis for an abbreviated campaign finance disclosure form that Secretary of State Dean Heller said will hinder voters from getting a clear idea of public officials’ campaign cash.
The law includes wording that says the disclosure form designed by Heller’s office “must only request information specifically required by statute.” That blocked Heller’s proposal for reports that would show starting and ending fund balances and additional details that would have helped provide a more complete view of actual campaign funds.
Another new election law, SB453, provides for a statewide voter registration system to help bring the state into line with the federal Help America Vote Act passed in 2002.
Under the act, each state must replace all punch-card voting systems, establish provisional balloting, build a statewide voter registration list and place at least one disabled-accessible, touch-screen voting machine at each polling place.
Under the new work card law, casino employees will no longer need county and city-issued work cards. SB432 requires workers in gambling-related positions to register through their employers once every five years. The state Gaming Control Board will run criminal background checks through federal and state law enforcement.
Among the provisions of other new laws effective Jan. 1 are:
– New requirements for licensing psychologists who treat problem gamblers. Legislators were told there aren’t enough Nevada counselors nationally certified in treating compulsive gamblers, and SB351 would strengthen consumer confidence in counselors and help ensure people get quality treatment.
– A state commission to resolve Nevada homeowner association disputes. SB100, a compromise between Southern Nevada homeowners, developers and some local governments, creates the Nevada Commission for Common-Interest Communities, which will collect data on fines and foreclosures by homeowner associations, and mediate any disputes that arise from regulations or elections by the groups.
– Legislation that more than doubles the credits utilities get for generating or buying power from solar sources. AB296 also gives power companies more credit for buying electricity generated through a relatively obscure tire recycling process known as reverse polymerization.