Panel OKs bill for more judgeships in Vegas, Reno | NevadaAppeal.com

Panel OKs bill for more judgeships in Vegas, Reno

AMANDA FEHD
Associated Press Writer

The Assembly Judiciary Committee voted Monday for a bill that adds 12 new judgeships in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, but some panel members expressed concern about the measure’s local government price tag of at least $32 million.

AB246 now moves to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee because of its fiscal impact.

The Legislature must consider the price to the state for paying judge’s salaries, about $4 million a year. But those costs are much less than what the counties would shoulder for building new court facilities and providing support staff salaries, benefits and other related costs.

The total, combined costs at the local level are estimated at $26 million for 10 judges in Clark County, encompassing Las Vegas, and $7 million for two judges in Washoe County, encompassing Reno, over the next two years.

Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, said there’s a need for more judges, and he supported the increase – but not its fiscal impact.

“I would like to see the localities negotiate the exact number (of judges) that is palatable to the state and the localities,” Cobb said.

The Judiciary Committee also passed a bill that prohibits police from requiring a victim of sexual crime to take a polygraph test.

Deputy Attorney General Robert Bony said the changes in AB482 are needed to comply with the federal Violence Against Women Act and for Nevada to continue to get federal funding for law enforcement and court costs related to domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault and teen dating violence. Nevada got $1.3 million in 2006 under that program.

The panel also reviewed AB300, which removes the requirement that someone who commits a crime using a deadly weapon receive twice the sentence for the crime. The bill would allow judges to determine an extra penalty between one and five years.

The measure is similar to a measure proposed by an interim committee that studied sentencing rules, AB63, which would allow for up to 10 years extra for a deadly weapon.

Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said Nevada has one of the stiffest penalties for use of a deadly weapon and the change could save the state $4 million to $20 million a year in prison costs.