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State Lawmakers Tackle Smoking On Campus, Union Rules and Republican Discord


Nevada Legislature
"NevadaLegislatureBuilding" by Dave Parker - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia

The State Legislature is looking at union rules, smoking on campus and gifts for lobbyists.  

Guns may be on the way to Nevada’s campuses, thanks to state lawmakers, but lighting up a cigarette on campus won’t be allowed.

No smoking on campus is one of the latest proposals stirring in the sausage-making factory known as the Nevada Legislature, which meets every two years in Carson City.

Steve Sebelius, politics columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, gave his insight into the latest ado in the state capital on KNPR’s State of Nevada.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson wants to ban all gifts from lobbyist to legislators. How likely would it be for this bill to pass?

“It would be unusual,” Sebelius said. “It’s still step in the right direction.”

Sebelius said that in reality a lot of rules for political spending and lobbying need to be revised in Carson City but it is unlikely. He does see it as an example of the smart politicking by some Republicans in this session.

“This has typically been a democratic issue in terms of reform. It’s never passed. I’ll be interested to see if the Republicans actual pass this. I wouldn’t be surprised because Roberson is quit determined in many aspects of his legislative life.” Sebelius said.

Sebelius believes the lawmaker could use that success in the 2016 election as a way to show that the GOP should stay in charge.  

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Senator Debbie Smith, a Democrat from Sparks, introduced a bill to ban smoking on college campuses. Meanwhile, Assembly Republicans keep pushing gun bills, including one to allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on campus.

“There is a very interesting dichotomy. There is nobody that would argue that the presence of more guns on campus doesn’t increase the potentiality of danger and violence and a rather swift death. While smoking takes years to kill you through cancer,” Sebelius said.

“It is really an amusing arrangement where you can say ‘look we don’t want you to have negative health consequences and die of cancer so no smoking including e-cigarettes, but go ahead and carry your concealed weapon. No problem at all.’”

The Las Vegas Sun reported that state Republicans have proposed no fewer than 30 anti-union bills this session. Which sticks out as particularly damaging to public unions?

“Probably the number one bill would be AB182. It’s been dubbed the union Armageddon bill. This is a bill by Republican Randy Kirner and it would do a whole host of things. It would eliminate binding arbitration for certain employees. It says supervisors couldn’t be in unions. Government agencies wouldn’t pay employees of unions to do union business, they would have to do it through dues. It would say collective bargaining agreements would continue until another agreement is signed and they’re not retroactive to the previous agreement.”

Sebelius said that there are some good ideas in some of the bills called “anti-union” that at least need to be looked at.

Governor Brian Sandoval’s budget is speeding ahead. Meanwhile, two of the state’s new Republican constitutional officers have come out against the governor’s budget. Attorney General Adam Laxalt joined a lawsuit without the governor’s approval. It’s not common to see that kind of discord between members of the same political party?

“It really isn’t. I mean we saw a lobbyist from the Nevada Republican Party denounce taxes and by implication the governor at a hearing. There are Republicans in this state who absolutely, adamantly oppose the governor. Pretty much every constitutional officer, except Lt. Gov. Hutichson, has come out against the governor’s tax plan.”

But Sebelius said it really doesn’t matter much because they don’t have any kind of say over the budget. However:

“Politically it is very difficult to operate in that environment when you have pretty much all of the elected officials elected alongside you, opposing what you’re trying to do and your number one goal for the session.”



Steve Sebelius, columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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State Legislature
KNPR's State of Nevada
Nevada Legislature
KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada