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Legislative Deadline Leaves Many Bills Dead In Carson City

Schoolhouse Rock Bill

Bill sits on Capitol Hill in classic Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. However, in Carson City many bills didn't make it past committee and are now no longer on the agenda.

Last Friday was deadline day in the Nevada Legislature. Bills that didn’t get a hearing died.

A total of 246 bills are now just pieces of paper. Bills die for a variety of reasons. Some are deemed unconstitutional on their face. Some die for political reasons.

“There are a lot of narrowly ideological bills that they waste time on that they at least killed at the deadline last week,” political columnist Jon Ralston told KNPR’s State of Nevada.

Among the dead bills is the religious freedom bill which was similar to one in Indiana that was signed by the governor but was quickly sent back to lawmakers for revisions because of the outrage it caused.

A bill setting up a state lottery in Nevada died – again.

The so-called Bundy bill is alive but dramatically revised. The bill introduced by Assemblywoman Michele Fiore would have restricted federal management of land in Nevada. However, it was called unconstitutional by everyone but its supporters including rancher Cliven Bundy who brought busloads of people to Carson City to show support for it.

“They eventually gutted that bill and put in some fairly meaningless language about what the feds can and can’t do on federal land, which has no force of law at all,” political columnist with the Reno Gazette Journal and host of Ralston Live Jon Ralston said.

Still alive are bills touting concealed guns on college campuses, parental notification by minors seeking an abortion and forcing transgender students to use bathrooms and showers designated for their biological gender.

Ralston told KNPR’s State of Nevada that the fight over these bills shows the fractures within the Assembly Republican Caucus.

“The governor does not want to have to have any of this stuff come to his desk so one of two things is going to happen, he is either going to have this stuff killed by his republican allies in the assembly or the senate, if it gets over there, or he’s going to have to veto it. He does not want to have to make that choice,” Ralston said.

The long-time political columnist hopes the bill that forces transgender students to use bathrooms for their birth gender dies. It is something he believes the governor and most people find offensive and discriminatory but it also an example of what’s going on in Carson City.

“It’s the kind of thing that shows how out of touch, not the Assembly Republican Caucus, but about a third of those folks really are to what’s going on in this country,” Ralston said.

What he really hopes makes it through the legislative process is the proposed changes to the state’s tax structure.

“We are way past time in this state when we need to fix the tax policy and actually create a permanent funding stream for education,” Ralston said.

Although hundreds of bills never made it out of committee, Ralston said a proposal can always come back as an amendment. An idea is only really dead when the final gavel drops, which this year is scheduled for June 1. 

Jon Ralston, political columnist, Reno Gazette-Journal and host, Ralston Live

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.