Desert Companion

Legislative Preview 3: Bills, Bills, Bills

Just a few of the ideas lawmakers mightponder this time

Every session, there are thousands of bills and resolutions introduced in the Nevada Legislature. Some will become laws, others may never see the light of day. (Some are purely whimsical, such as designating the pomegranate as the state fruit or naming neon the state element.) But they all start as bill draft requests,or “BDRs” in legislative parlance. Here are a few to watch as the 2019 session gets underway.

BDR 24-473 (aka Assembly Bill 50): Requested by Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, this bill would merge the odd-year municipal elections with the even-year elections for state and federal office. Taxpayers would save money, and more people would end up voting for local officials. But those same officials don’t like the idea, because low-turnout, odd-year elections are easier to win, and fundraising is easier when candidates for state and federal office aren’t also asking for cash.

BDR 20-110: Requested by state Sen. Dr. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, this bill would outlaw prostitution in Nevada. The move follows unsuccessful initiatives to outlaw brothels in Lyon County this year. The defunct Nevada Brothel Association has been revived to fight efforts to stop prostitution in Nevada. Despite Harry Reid calling on the Legislature to ban brothels during the 2011 session, no serious legislative efforts have been made to do so.

Support comes from

BDR 43-358 (aka Senate Bill 43): Requested by the state Office of Traffic Safety, this would lift the ban on traffic enforcement cameras in Nevada. That has been a hard sell in the Silver State, especially after reports have exposed how other cities turned the devices into revenue generators, sometimes by manipulating signal-light times to trap red-light runners. This bill attempts to ease those concerns by imposing a fine of just $50, specifying that tickets would not be reported to the DMV, and by prohibiting insurance companies from using automated citations to raise rates. (Another measure would potentially make all minor traffic citations into civil rather than criminal matters.)

BDR 536/BDR 23-650: These bills, under the purview of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the Nevada System of Higher Education and the state of Nevada, respectively. Republicans are sure to oppose the measures, as they would increase the costs of labor in the state. But in 2017, then-Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak embraced the idea of allowing state employees to collectively bargain. Now that he’s governor, Democrats might have even more incentive to get these bills to his desk.

BDR 755: Requested by Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, this bill would revise background check provisions for buying firearms. Democrats have been demanding that state officials implement the provisions of Question 1, which narrowly passed in 2016 and required all gun sales — including those between private parties — to undergo criminal background checks. The measure contained a flaw that prevented it from going into effect, but there’s nothing to prevent the Legislature from passing a similar law that could be effective.

BDR 15-963: Requested by state Sen. James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, this bill would outlaw capital punishment in Nevada. The state has struggled to implement the death penalty, as pharmaceutical companies have objected to their drugs being used in executions. Studies show the death penalty is more expensive to carry out than even a lifetime prison sentence, but many voters believe it should be available for particularly heinous criminals.

 

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