Lawmakers wrapping session after tackling abortion, guns
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers are wrapping up their biennial legislative session by midnight Monday. The country’s first female-majority Democratic Legislature repealed abortion restrictions, expanded gun background checks and made it easier to prosecute some sexual assault cases.
Lawmakers have passed more than 400 bills and will whip through dozens more before they adjourn.
Here’s a look at where some key bills lawmakers took on this year:
While conservative states this year have been passing more restrictive abortion laws, Nevada moved in the opposite direction. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law a measure that repeals a requirement that a woman be asked about her marital status before an abortion and a requirement that physicians tell a woman about the “emotional implications” of the procedure.
A bill to allow state workers to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions is headed to Sisolak’s desk. The bill, which Sisolak called for in his State of the State address, would cover workers like prison guards, janitors and secretaries. It would not cover teachers and workers would not be permitted to strike.
A bill to raise the age from 18 to 21 to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes was introduced the day before lawmakers were set to adjourn. The bill, from Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, creates an exception for members of the military. The bill, which would not take effect until 2021, was approved by the Assembly on Sunday and was working its way through the Senate Monday.
SAME-DAY VOTER REGISTRATION
Nevadans may be able to register to vote on Election Day under a bill headed to Sisolak. The measure, from Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, would also permit 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they would be 18 by a general election. About a dozen states have similar laws.
NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE
Sisolak vetoed a measure to change the way the state’s Electoral College votes are cast. The bill would have added Nevada to the National Popular Vote compact, meaning the state would pledge to give its Electoral College votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote — even if another candidate got more votes in Nevada.
In their first session since the 2017 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, lawmakers passed stricter gun control measures. One bill on Sisolak’s desk bans bump stock devices, which mimic the firing of a fully automatic weapon. A so-called “red flag” law allows guns to be removed from people seen as a threat to themselves or others. In February, Sisolak signed a bill expanding background checks to private gun sales and transfers.
A proposal by Republican Sen. Joe Hardy to ban legal brothels never received a hearing and failed to clear a key deadline to advance. Hardy argued that brothels, which are only allowed in some counties and mostly operate in rural areas, trap women in an abusive industry. Brothel supporters argued the ban would harm the economies of rural communities and force sex workers into more dangerous, illegal prostitution.
Lawmakers introduced two bills that would have banned the death penalty, but they failed to pass legislative deadlines. The bills came after a death-row inmate killed himself in January amid a legal battle with drug makers who objected to their products being used in a lethal injection.
Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro introduced a bill late in the session to tighten the state’s campaign finance laws following the resignation of her predecessor Kelvin Atkinson, who admitted to misusing campaign funds for a luxury car lease and other expenses. Cannizzaro’s bill, which cleared the Senate Monday and was working its way through the Assembly, would bar public officials from paying themselves a salary with campaign funds. It also requires organizations donating more than $10,000 a year to report the contribution.
Lawmakers took up a package of criminal justice bills this year, including a sweeping overhaul that was awaiting final approval in the Senate Monday. The bill aims to curb the state’s growing inmate population by reducing penalties for some non-violent drug and property crimes. It also includes provisions to train police officers for dealing with people who may have mental illness. Earlier this year, legislators passed and Sisolak signed a bill to restore voting rights for felons once they’re released from prison. A third bill, which was sent to the governor’s desk Monday, would compensate people who were wrongly convicted. The compensation for wrongful imprisonment would range from $50,000 for one year of wrongful imprisonment to $100,000 a year if the person was imprisoned for more than 21 years.
CANNABIS COMPLIANCE BOARD
A bill passed Monday would create a board overseeing the state’s legal marijuana industry. Sisolak called in his State of the State for forming a Cannabis Compliance Board, modeling it after the way Nevada regulates gambling. The board will study the creation of pot lounges where people could consume marijuana in public, but would be barred from moving forward to license and legalize the lounges.