With any luck, by the time you read this, the 2015 Legislature will have come to a merciful close. Then again, it’s also entirely possible that, as of this writing, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and Cliven Bundy are holding our lawmakers hostage at musket-point until they recognize the independent city-state of Fioria. At any rate, here’s a roundup of the newsworthy people, the politics and the power plays of the 78th session.
Players and politicos
After a rocky start in which Fiore was removed from key committees and legislative posts, the colorful, combative lawmaker proved a pivotal figure in this biennial’s session despite being “accidentally” locked out of Assembly chambers most of the time and thus forced to scream her testimony for the legislative record.
Despite her dogged efforts, Fiore’s controversial bill to allow concealed weapons on college campuses failed. Long-brewing suspicions about her motives for the bill were at last answered when an angry Fiore pulled her face skin off, revealing her true identity as Yosemite Sam.
… Elmer Fudd.
The Assembly speaker, Hambrick was derided by some as “the man in the empty suit.” Asked for a response, the suit crumpled to the floor, releasing a wisp of dust.
After being removed from his Assembly speaker post in light of revelations he had made racially insensitive comments in his column in the Sparks Tribune, Hansen delivered a sincere apology and publicly renounced his statements, and for the remainder of the session returned to the subtler, unspoken, more insidious brand of racism properly befitting a rural legislator.
GOP Senate majority leader. By shepherding Gov. Sandoval’s education tax plan through the Legislature while quietly killing many of the red wave’s kookier proposals, Roberson was the Senate’s most effective Democrat in years.
With the momentum of strong bipartisan support, SB811 passed the Assembly and Senate easily. The bill breaks the Clark County School District into five smaller districts, then breaks each of those districts into 20 smaller districts, and then finally breaks down individual schools into separate pieces, which will be dismantled and sold for scrap.
UNLV medical school
Encouraging bipartisan support of a Sandoval budget recommendation paves the way for UNLV to open a medical school as early as 2097.
AB704 narrows the list of gifts lobbyists can legally give lawmakers to include meals, alcohol, cash, trips, clothing, footwear, accessories, jewelry, vehicles, spa services, gym memberships, TVs, personal electronics, furniture, stationery, handguns, collectibles, antiques, maybe a little more cash, unused prescription medications, Netflix accounts, that last U2 album, seasons 2-4 of Breaking Bad on DVD, remaindered copies of the 50 Shades trilogy, brothel gift certificates and one last bundle of cash. Removed from list: novelty keychains.
Despite intense lobbying by the maker of Canine Doritos, a bill to legalize medical marijuana for dogs failed after opponents played a GIF of a stoned basenji thumping its head with a sneaker and barking, “That was my skull! I’m so wasted!”
Toy guns in schools
Noting that a student had been reprimanded for chewing his Pop-Tart into the shape of a handgun, a worried Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Glock, introduced a bill requiring all Nevada students to chew all their food into weapon shapes. “It’s time we made the Second Amendment as delicious to our children as it is to crackpot gun absolutists,” Wheeler said.
In a pitched battle that tested the political power of taxi operators, the Legislature attempted to set policy for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The bill finally passed when Uber grudgingly promised that its contractors would drive with the same recklessness and disdain for traffic safety as regular cabbies.
JR101 would ask the federal government to revert 7 million acres to state control. It’s an economic move, insisted its sponsor, Sen. Pete Goicoechea: “Since the mining industry pays so little in taxes, the obvious solution is to give more land to mining companies — that way, the state collects incrementally more of their insignificant payments!” However, pressed by conservationists, land-use advocates and a covey of sentient sage grouse, Goicoechea admitted it would be wrong to turn the entire 7 million acres over to mining. “We’ll also give more grazing land to Cliven Bundy,” he added.