Nevada Legislature Week 13: Lawsuits, guns and money
Lawmakers face a major milestone in Week 13 of the Nevada Legislature, as the state’s independent Economic Forum prepares to provide critical information on projected state revenue for the next two years.
The five-person group will meet Friday and will kick off a frantic four-week debate and negotiation over building a tax package funding Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $7.3 billion budget.
Lawmakers will continue vetting measures enabling state colleges to ban tobacco and limiting the amount of money available for some car accident lawsuits.
Nevada Assembly leaders say they’re holding off action on any potential tax plan until the Economic Forum releases an updated projection of the state’s tax revenue over a two-year period.
The forum is made up of five economists and fiscal experts appointed by the governor. The group estimated in December that Nevada would have around $6.3 billion over two years to fund state programs — well short of Sandoval’s proposed $7.3 billion budget.
Sandoval’s proposed $1.1 billion in new and extended taxes to help fund that budget and his plan, SB252, passed out of the Senate last week. Republican Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson said no action would be taken on the governor’s plan or a competing Assembly tax increase until the forum releases its projections.
PAY TO PLAY
Nevada could become the latest state to pass legislation prohibiting uninsured drivers from collecting some forms of compensation in traffic accidents.
Republican Assemblyman Pat Hickey is sponsoring AB7 which is scheduled for a hearing Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The measure passed out of the Assembly on a nearly party-line 24-18 vote earlier in April.
The measure would prohibit uninsured drivers in Nevada from collecting damages related to a traffic accident, excluding medical costs, property damage and lost income. The measure wouldn’t apply to drunken driving accidents or hit-and-run cases.
Hickey said people who don’t buy automobile insurance, which is required under state law, shouldn’t get benefits from traffic accidents.
NO SMOKING IN THE BOY’S ROOM
Lawmakers are set to review a measure that would allow Nevada universities and colleges to ban smoking.
SB339 is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. The measure passed the Senate unanimously.
The measure would enable Nevada colleges to set the same restrictions on smoking and tobacco products as K-12 schools. University of Nevada, Reno president Marc Johnson testified for the bill and said it would promote student health.
Lawmakers will also hear details Wednesday on SB464, which would grant criminal immunity for underage drinkers to call for emergency medical assistance.
GET ELECTED, GET PAID
Locally-elected officials could have some good news to look forward to, as lawmakers continue to vet a bill that would raise their salaries.
SB482 passed out of the Senate unanimously in April and is scheduled for a hearing Monday in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee.
The measure increases salaries for county district attorneys, sheriffs and other locally-elected offices by 3 percent for each fiscal year until 2019. It also eliminates the ability for county commissioners to set their own salary and sets them on a similar 3 percent salary increase every year.
The bill also allows any elected official to elect not to receive any part of their salary.
CHECk OUT THESE GUNS
Assembly members are set to review a Republican-backed bill that would make background checks on gun sales free but not mandatory.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear SB240 on Thursday. Despite Democrats worrying that the bill didn’t go far enough, the measure passed unanimously out of the Senate in early April.
The measure removes a $35 fee on gun background sales and beefs up reporting requirements on criminal history and mental illness. Republican Sen. Majority Leader Michael Roberson is sponsoring the bill and said it would help keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill without infringing on 2nd Amendment rights.