Assembly member sees his bills die


Self-serving bills in the Nevada Legislature are not exactly a rarity. But usually they are introduced by legislators without any admission that the bills are for them or someone they love.

In the case of Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, he won points for admitting he introduced Assembly Bill 119 to help his domestic partner become a certified public accountant — without having the required education.

Martin believes accountants should get credit for experience and not worry so much about having classes and degrees in accounting and finance.

His partner, and others like him, should be able to become certified CPAs in Nevada by holding any baccalaureate degree and working for 10 years under the direct supervision of a CPA, Martin contended.

The Nevada Board of Accountancy and the Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants opposed that bill, saying it lowered education and experience standards.

You should care because the board and society said it wasn’t in the best interest of the public to have standards lowered for CPAs, making opposition to Martin’s bill a consumer protection issue.

I had been told in March that Assembly leadership had asked Martin to withdraw his bill.

At the time, Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, denied that leadership had asked him to withdraw it. And Martin denied he had withdrawn it.

He didn’t have to.

When the April 12 deadline arrived to pass bills out of the committees in the house or origin, the CPA bill was nothing but a lovely corpse, one of many. It didn’t have a hearing or a vote.

Martin offered another controversial bill. His Assembly Bill 402 would have legalized marijuana for recreational use. It got a hearing, even won him a picture in the paper as he testified.

But for Martin, it was another bill going up in smoke.

His third loser was Assembly Bill 329. It would have required cab companies to establish flat rates between the airport and various locations in an attempt to curtail long-hauling. Perhaps Martin learned that taking on the cab industry, one of the major donors to legislators, was another losing proposition when it died in committee.

He’s not the only Las Vegas lawmaker to see their bills earn publicity but end their days in a committee chair’s desk drawer, dying without even a vote of the committee.

I correctly predicted that Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Munford’s “fat tax,” adding a nickel tax to fast foods over 500 calories each was doomed. And it was.

I foretold that Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore’s bill to allow higher ed students to carry weapons on campus if they have permits was a nonstarter. Despite the media coverage, it went down in the Assembly Judiciary Committee when Chairman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, didn’t put it to a vote.

The real lesson here is that if the chairman of a committee doesn’t like a bill, it’s not going to see daylight. It may have a hearing, but that doesn’t guarantee a vote. The chairman can squish a bill even if there are enough votes to pass it out of committee.

Concepts I’ve supported for years also went down, including Assembly Bill 439, which would have moved the odd-year municipal elections to the same time as even-year general elections. The savings would have been about $1 million every other year.

Muni candidates didn’t like it and didn’t care how much it cost, so it died in Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections, courtesy of Chairman James Ohrenschall.

I knew banning all gifts for public officials was inevitably doomed. Same death. Same committee.

The next mass bill slaughter takes place Tuesday. If the bills remaining don’t make it out of the house of origin, they’re dead.

May they rest in peace. And await the 2015 Legislature.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275.