It was crunch time last week for lawmakers in Carson City at the Nevada Legislature as they approached the Tuesday deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin.
Dozens of bills in the Senate and Assembly passed while others didn’t make it past the deadline. The Senate wrapped up around 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday night passing 55 bills while the Assembly worked until around 10:00 p.m. passing 133 bills in the floor session.
In order for a bill to become law, it is first read and referred to a committee. If the bill passes out of the committee, it is read two additional times to the full house. After the third reading, it is in then voted on and receives a roll call vote. While most bills only need a constitutional majority to pass, bills that involve tax and fee increases require a two-thirds majority vote. If the bill passes in the first house, the process is repeated in the second house. Finally if the bill passes in the second house, it must be signed by Governor Brian Sandoval in order to become law. Here’s a look at some of the bills that passed unanimously:
SB169 – Rape kit backlog
Senate Bill 169 would require each law enforcement agency in the state to submit SAFE kits, otherwise known as sexual assault forensic evidence kits, no later than 30 days after the collecting the evidence. It will also require that the kits be tested no later than 180 days after they are submitted upon the request of the sexual assault victim. The primary sponsor is Senator Becky Harris and it passed 21-0.
AB145 – Extends the statute of limitations on reporting child sexual abuse
Assembly Bill 145 would extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse by one decade, increasing the time frame a victim can sue from 10 to 20 years. This would impact victims who were sexually abused under the age of 18. The bill also includes language for victims who appeared in pornographic material before the age of 16. The primary sponsors are Assemblywoman Lisa Krasner, Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams, Senator Moises Denis and it passed 38-0.
SB344 – Marijuana can’t be packaged like candy
SB344 would establish limits on the quantity of marijuana for medical use that may be sold in a single package. It would also prohibit the production of edible marijuana products, such as cookies and brownies, to appear candy-like or appealing to children. The primary sponsor is Senator Patricia Farley and Senator Tick Segerblom and it passed 21-0
SB177 – Hoarding deemed a mental illness
Revises the definition of “mental illness” to include hoarding disorder – a disorder when a person experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of items – for the purpose of assigning individuals with hoarding disorder to a program for treatment of mental illness established by a district court. The primary sponsor is Senator David Parks and it passed 21-0.
SB320 – Rules and regulations for towing vehicles in residential areas
If you’ve ever gotten your car towed at Sterling Summit or The Republic near the University of Nevada-Reno campus, Senate Bill 379 is for you. The bill sets certain conditions for towing a motor vehicle from a residential complex. The conditions require:
- The person requesting the tow must be the owner of the property from which the vehicle is being towed
- The person requesting the tow must sign a specific request for towing
- The area from which the vehicle is being towed must be appropriately posted in accordance with state or local requirements
- Notice of the tow must be given to the appropriate law enforcement agency
- The operator of the tow truck may be directed to terminate the towing by a law enforcement officer
The primary sponsor is Senator Moises Denis and it passed 21-0.
SB253 – Protection for pregnant and postpartum female employees
Senators voted to make it illegal for employers to refuse to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant or nursing women under the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act. The accommodations include but are not limited to allowing longer or more frequent breaks, providing modified seating, and providing space in an area other than a bathroom that may be used to pump breast milk or breastfeed.
SB409 – Protecting cats and dogs left in unattended vehicles
Another unanimous vote made by Senators was an effort to protect animals from being left inside motor vehicles unattended. SB409 will require an animal control officer to remove cats and dogs left inside a vehicle unattended and provide it with care and shelter if left during a period of extreme heat or cold. The person liable for leaving their animal unattended will be charged with a misdemeanor and law enforcement or animal control officers may seize animals if deemed cruel. The primary sponsors are Senator Mark Manendo, Senator Nicole Cannizzaro, and Senator David Parks and it passed 21-0.
SB420 – Protection for student journalists
SB420 would require the Board of Trustees at every school district in Nevada to adopt a written policy that relates to the right of expression for students working as journalists on student publications. This would affect both student journalists in high school and on the college level. The primary sponsor is Senator Nicole Cannizzaro and it passed 21-0.
AB335 – Moped driver requirements
Ride a moped to school? AB335 would require moped drivers to drive in the far right-hand lane on the highway if the highway has two clearly marked lanes traveling in the same direction. The primary sponsors is Assemblyman Chris Edwards and Assemblyman Richard Carrillo and it passed 42-0.
With Democrats holding the majority seat in both the Assembly and the Senate, many bills that passed had hard party line votes where some Democrats defected to join Republicans in voting against a measure. Here’s a look at a few:
SB236: Marijuana at public events
Senate bill 236 would authorize counties to issue special permits to businesses that want to allow recreational use of marijuana on their premises. It would also issue permits to special events that want to allow pot. The bill would allow counties to set a fee for the permits. The primary sponsor is Senator Tick Segerblom and it passed 12-9.
AB259 – Permission for courts to vacate certain marijuana-related crimes
With the recent vote to make marijuana a legal substance in the state of Nevada, Assembly Bill 259 would allow allows the courts to vacate certain marijuana-related crimes and seal the records of those convictions. It would also authorize the court to depart from prescribed minimum terms of imprisonment for the possession of controlled substances in certain circumstances. The primary sponsors are Assemblyman William McCurdy II, Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson, Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, Senator David Parks, Senator Yvanna Cancela, Senator Tick Segerblom, and Senator Julia Ratti and it passed 27-15.
AB188 – Reduces credit requirement for the Silver State Opportunity Grant
Are you on Nevada’s need-based scholarship? If so, Assembly bill 188 would reduce the amount of credit hours needed in order to be eligible to receive the grant. Currently, the Silver State Opportunity Grant requires that you take at least 15 credits a semester to retain the award but lawmakers voted to reduce that number to 12 credits. The primary sponsor, Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, originally pushed for reducing the required credit amount to 9 units, but an amendment to her bill raised it to 12. Diaz wanted to reduce the amount of credits required because she wanted students who need it most to be able to graduate in a timely manner while still being able to work and help out their families. All Republicans voted against this bill. It passed 27-15.
SB408 – Gender reassignment surgery on minors
Arguably one of the most split bills in this session amongst lawmakers, SB408 would establish framework for a child to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The bill would prohibit health care providers from performing a sex reassignment surgery on a child until another qualified professional assesses the child to ensure that the child understands the nature of the surgery. Children wishing to go through with the surgery would still need their parent or guardian’s consent. The primary sponsors are Senator David Parks, Senator Pat Spearman, Senator Tick Segerblom, Senator Yvanna Cancela, Assemblyman Nelson Araujo, and Assemblywoman Amber Joiner and it passed 11-10.
SB492 – Polling on election day
Vote, vote, vote! SB492 would require each county clerk to establish one or more polling sites for people to vote on election day. Although you would have to be registered prior to election day, this bill would require the county clerk to publicize where the polling sites are located and prepare a roster of eligible voters. The bill was brought forth by the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections. Passed 12-9.
AB320 – Teacher evaluations
Have you completed your course evaluations yet? AB320 would base a teacher’s performance on local student achievement data rather than statewide testing data. It would ensure that students are reaching learning objectives and would require pupil achievement data to account for 20 percent of an evaluation. The primary sponsors are Assemblyman Jason Frierson and Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo and it passed 27-15.
AB424 – Brain death is actual death
Lawmakers passed a bill that revises the way brain death patients are determined deceased. AB424 would no longer require consent from a family member to make the determination of brain death and it prohibits the withdraw of life-sustaining treatment from a person determined brain dead only if that person is pregnant or an organ donor. The primary sponsor is Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle and it passed 41-1.
While all these bills passed out of their House of origin, Governor Brian Sandoval must sign off on them in order for them to become law.