Nevada lawmakers plow through 100s of bills before deadline

Nevada lawmakers plow through 100s of bills before deadline
Members of the Assembly during the floor session inside the Legislature on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Carson City, Nev. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

By SAM METZ AP/Report for America

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers on Tuesday passed dozens of bills through the state Senate and Assembly and diverted several others back to a key committee in order to ensure their priority proposals survived past a crucial deadline.

To remain under consideration in the 2021 legislative session, most bills — unless granted exemptions — were required to pass through a first chamber by the end of the day Tuesday. Lawmakers voted to pass bills to make “doxxing,” — or publishing private or identifying information about a person online — a crime, allow veterinarians to practice telemedicine and prohibit cat declawing.

In the Assembly, lawmakers amended a gun control bill that proposed banning make-your-own “ghost guns” without serial numbers and making it a criminal trespassing offense to bring firearms onto casino and resort properties where they’re banned. The ghost gun provisions — which could be pre-empted by federal action if President Joe Biden’s Justice Department implements new rules — remain in the bill, but the trespassing charges were taken out.

Lawmakers passed a Republican-sponsored bill to require law enforcement agencies to post written use-of-force policies online and use de-escalation policies as opposed to force “when feasible.”

They also elected to move proposals to decriminalize traffic violations and authorize cannabis lounges to the Ways & Means committee, which considers tax and fee-related proposals. All bills in the committee are exempt from Tuesday’s deadline.

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, who chairs Ways & Means, did not deny that many bills sent to her committee end up not making their way back to the floor for voting. She said staff would review the proposals about traffic tickets and cannabis lounges.

Democrats make up majorities in the state Senate and Assembly, but state law requires that all proposals to raise revenue win two-thirds majorities in both chambers. Republicans can therefore block any bill that proposes a tax or a fee.

Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus, a Wellington Republican, said her caucus had originally hoped to negotiate with Democrats using the two-thirds threshold to get priority bills heard or amended.

But on Thursday, she wondered whether enough Republican-backed proposals remained alive to make bargaining possible and said opinions in Nevada were so polarized on issues like guns or election policy that it made negotiating difficult.

In the state Senate, lawmakers passed bills to change provisions of the law implemented in the 1980s that treat HIV differently than other communicable diseases and criminalize intentional transmission. They also passed a bill that requires landlords return tenants’ security deposits within three weeks and limits the amount they can take out for cleaning fees when leases end.

Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.