Today deadline for committee action on bills | NevadaAppeal.com

Today deadline for committee action on bills

The Legislature heads into its end-of-session drill today as they pass the deadline for committee action on all non-exempt bills.

At the same time, members of leadership who met into the evening Thursday plan to present their solution to the “green building” tax exemption issue today.

The deadline affects all committees except Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance, because all but one or two of the exempt bills are those which affect the budget. It signals the close of business for most other committees, which until the session ends, will meet only at the call of the chair to handle specific issues.

One more deadline looms for non-exempt bills: Final action on the Assembly and Senate floors on May 25. At that point, the emphasis shifts to conference committee meetings to resolve differences between Senate and Assembly versions of legislation.

But the center of attention for the final two weeks is reaching agreement on the budget. The largest pieces of the budget are still up in the air with Assembly Democrats pushing for more money to K-12 education and Senate Republicans trying to protect higher education.

Most of the committee chairs say they are in good shape to finish their business without going late into the night today.

Senate Taxation Chairman Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, said that committee held its final meeting a week ago.

“Everything is either out or dead,” he said. “We’re all done.”

His Assembly counterpart Kathy McClain, D-Las Vegas, said she has just one bill left to process today.

Government Affairs Chairman Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, and Natural Resources Chairman Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, both said their committees are in good shape and Commerce and Labor Chair Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said he has just two non-controversial measure to process and a third he described as “no controversy – just complicated.”

One committee with work remaining is the Assembly Select Committee on Corrections, Parole and Probation. Chairman David Parks, D-Las Vegas, said they have new data on prison projections to consider today and amendments to develop, which will, hopefully, help reduce prison overcrowding enough to save a significant amount of money.

But vice chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, said most of the bills involved are safe because they are exempt and in Ways and Means. In his own Judiciary Committee, he said he has eight bills on today’s agenda.”There are probably about 15 bills that will die,” he said.

Senate Human Resources Chairman Maurice Washington said he has just two bills today and will leave only seven or eight behind to die. His Assembly counterpart Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said she has six to decide on today.

Also today, leadership hopes to dispose of the “green building” issue. They met behind closed doors late Thursday with representatives of the affected businesses. Experts say the law, approved in 2005, to give property and sales tax breaks to businessmen who construct environmentally efficient buildings, will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars unless it is changed.

But Gov. Jim Gibbons says businesses which relied on letters granting them those breaks would probably win in court if the state tried to take them back.

The compromise plan to fix the law is to be presented in a joint Senate and Assembly Commerce and Labor hearing today.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.