PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE
■ CELL PHONE-TEXTING: The Senate and Assembly Transportation committees passed separate bills to outlaw texting and the use of hand-held cellphones by drivers. SB140 calls for fines escalating from $250 to $1,000 for first to third offenses, and AB151 calls for fines from $50 to $250. The two houses eventually will compromise and pass a ban on cellphone use and texting, probably effective July 1.
■ EDUCATION REFORM: The full Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of two bills proposed by Democratic leaders. AB225 would allow teachers who receive consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations to be returned to probationary status. AB229 extends probationary status for new teachers to three years. It also would establish performance bonuses and change how teachers and administrators are evaluated. Two bills backed by Gov. Brian Sandoval were referred from the Assembly Education to Assembly Ways & Means. AB554 would give schools a letter grade and let parents choose where to send their children to public school, and AB557 would set aside $20 million for teacher incentive pay. But no action was taken on AB548, which would have allowed the governor to appoint the state superintendent and Board of Education.
■ TUITION BILLS: The Senate Education Committee approved two bills that would mean higher fees and tuition while allowing individual institutions to keep the new money generated on their campuses. SB449 allows colleges and universities to charge different rates for programs, and SB451 allows schools to keep a portion of the money they raise from fees and funnel it toward programs such as renewable energy and health sciences.
■ MINING: SB86, proposed by Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, would repeal a state law that allows the mining industry to use the power of eminent domain to take private homes and ranches for mineral exploration. The full Senate passed the bill 20-1. The Senate Committee on Revenue unanimously waived the deadline for SB491, SB492 and Senate Joint Resolution 15, which proponents claim would generate nearly $645 million from taxes on mining companies that are set to expire. The committee also voted for SB493, which would create a mining oversight commission.
■ HELMET LAW: SB177 would repeal the state's 39-year-old law requiring motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets. The bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on a 4-3 vote. Before taking off helmets, riders must be 21, pass a motorcycle safety course and have at least one year of riding experience. Look for the Assembly to kill the bill.
■ IDENTITY THEFT: AB18, proposed by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, was approved by the Assembly 41-0. The bill would extend the statute of limitations on crimes involving identity theft to four years after the time when a victim discovers his identity was stolen. Now the Social Security numbers and names of children often are stolen and people don't discover that they have been victimized until they are 18 or older and seek a credit card or loan.
■ ANIMAL CRUELTY: The Senate Natural Resources Committee approved SB223 that makes it a felony, punishable by a year or more in prison, to torture or maim an animal. The crime is now a misdemeanor and offenders often get off with a slap on the wrist. Forty-four states have felony animal cruelty laws.
■ LAUGHLIN INCORPORATION: SB262, proposed by Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, would allow voters in Laughlin to decide whether to incorporate as a city. Incorporation, with their approval, would begin on July 1, 2013.
■ TOLL ROADS: The Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved SB83 that would lift the state ban on toll roads and allow the state to enter into contracts with private companies to build and operate highways in Nevada. The bill, sought by the Nevada Department of Transportation, is an effort to reduce the state's $9 billion backlog in highway construction and hopefully to have a bypass constructed around Boulder City.
■ UNCLAIMED GAMING TICKETS: Assembly Judiciary Committee members backed AB219, a proposal by Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, that would allow the state to collect 75 percent of the value of unclaimed winning slot machine tickets. Often people who win a few dollars forget or do not bother to cash in winning tickets. The state expected to receive as much as $50 million, although a late amendment allows casinos to keep 25 percent of the value of unredeemed tickets.
■ MOUNT CHARLESTON SNOW PARK: SB232, proposed by Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, would allow the owners of Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort to build a 33-acre snow play area in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.
■ DNA SAMPLES: The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved AB552 that would require police to take DNA samples of anyone arrested on a felony or sex crime offense. The bill was generated in part because of the murder of Brianna Denison, a college student from Reno. Her assailant, James Biela, had been arrested previously for crimes and had not been sampled for DNA. If he had been sampled, he might have been brought to justice more quickly. Biela has been sentenced to die.
■ TRANSGENDER RIGHTS: Four bills passed by the Senate and Assembly Commerce and Labor committees that would outlaw job, housing and public accommodations discrimination against transgender people, or discrimination based on one's gender identity and expression.
■ GUN RIGHTS: Under SB231, a bill proposed by Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, a person who holds a concealed weapons permit may carry that weapon on college and university campuses. The bill passed out of the Senate Government Affairs Committee on a 4-1 vote.
■ AIR IN TIRES: The Senate Transportation Committee approved SB144 by Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, which requires garages, including oil changing businesses, to check tire pressure.
BILLS THAT DIED IN COMMITTEE
■ STATE LOTTERY: Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, refused to conduct a vote in his Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee on Senate Joint Resolution 1. It marked the 25th time in the past 30 years that legislators refused even to try to lift the 1864 ban on a state lottery.
■ SEAT BELT CITATIONS: Senate Transportation Committee members killed SB235 that would have allowed police to cite drivers for not wearing a seat belt without first having to charge them with another offense.
■ SCHOOL VOUCHERS: The Assembly Education Committee did not act on Assembly Joint Resolution 8, a proposal by Gov. Brian Sandoval to lift the state constitutional ban on giving parents' vouchers, or money, to send their children to private, religious schools. Sandoval is a graduate of Bishop Manogue, a Catholic high school in Reno.
■ FIRE MERGER: AB278, proposed by Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, would have authorized city and county fire departments in Clark and Washoe counties to merge into one larger department. The Assembly Government Affairs Committee took no vote on the bill.
■ CORONER'S INQUEST: Assembly Government Affairs Committee members also did not vote on AB320 that would have ended coroner's inquests in Clark County. The bill, favored by the police officers' union and some police departments, was opposed by Sheriff Doug Gillespie who felt that legislators should wait to see whether new inquest regulations passed by the Clark County Commission clear up inquest problems.
■ METHAMPHETAMINE PRODUCTION: Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, killed her SB203 because it lacked enough votes. The bill would have required people to secure prescriptions for cold and allergy medications that contain ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamine. Opponents said passage would cause a tenfold increase in the prices of legitimate medications.
■ PROTESTS AT FUNERALS: Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, never received a hearing on his AB207 that would have restricted protests within 300 feet of funerals. The reason? The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., and other groups have a constitutional free speech right to conduct such protests, often held at funerals for service members killed in action.
■ SHORT, FAT PEOPLE: Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, received a hearing but no vote on his AB90 that would prohibit job discrimination against people because of their "physical characteristics," specifically their height and weight.
■ CAR SEATS: A bill sought by Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, to require alarm systems to prevent children from being accidentally locked in seats in hot cars never was prepared in time for a hearing. Munford wanted to expand the proposal to include alarms to prevent toddlers from falling into family swimming pools.
■ MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Assemblymen Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, and Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, proposed changes to Nevada's medical marijuana law that would have led to growers supplying the drug to more than 3,000 qualified users and created a Medical Marijuana Regulatory Board. Both bills failed to clear committee, but a third bill, SB336, by Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, remains alive in the Senate Finance Committee. It calls for the Board of Pharmacy to create a pilot program to provide marijuana to qualified users. The bill would cost $120,000 to implement, the kiss of death when legislators are scrambling for money.
■ COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: The Senate Operations Committee killed SB343 by Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, that he said would save local government as much as $2.3 billion by amending collective bargaining laws.
■ BOXERS MEDICAL EXPENSES: The Assembly Judiciary Committee killed AB178 by Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, to set up a fund to help boxers with medical expenses.
■ LEGAL NOTICES: The Assembly Government Affairs Committee didn't vote on a bill by Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, to repeal a law that requires local governments to publish property tax rolls and public notices in newspapers.
-- By Ed Vogel and Benjamin Spillman, Las Vegas Review-Journal