Lawmakers feel pressure as bill deadline arrives


CARSON CITY — Nevada lawmakers may be burning the midnight oil as they face their first big deadline when the seventh week of the Legislature kicks off Monday.

Here are legislative highlights for the upcoming week:

DEADLINE

Monday is the deadline for individual lawmakers to get bills formally introduced. So far 594 bills, not including resolutions, have been introduced: 308 in the Assembly and 286 in the Senate. But a logjam of draft requests has bill writers working long hours and lawmakers hoping legislation is ready Monday.

Both chambers have been warned to expect a long, grueling day.

“If your bill isn’t introduced ... it dies,” Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, warned members last week.

The next deadline, for committee bill introductions, comes a week later.

ROAD TRIP

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are taking a marijuana road trip. The committee, chaired by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, and some venturous reporters, will fly to Phoenix on Friday to visit a medical marijuana dispensary and see how it is run.

Nevada voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2000 legalizing marijuana for medical use. The Legislature then adopted a law implementing it, but there is no legal way for medical patients to obtain pot unless they grow it themselves, which the law allows.

Segerblom plans to push legislation this year creating a system to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries . Arizona voters approved medical marijuana in 2010; dispensaries recently got up and running.

FURLOUGHS

Even the Legislature is subject to cost-cutting furloughs. Senate staff members will be taking days off. Half the Senate staff will take off Thursday, the other half on Friday. That means no committee hearings or floor sessions, though some Senate Finance Committee members will be meeting with Assembly Ways and Means counterparts both days. All Senate staff will take another four hours of furlough the following week as well, getting a head start on the Easter holiday weekend.

WEEKEND INTRUSION

It happens eventually every legislative session, when committee hearings slop over into weekends, robbing law­makers, legislative staff, lobbyists, reporters, and anyone who watches the process closely of a day off after a hectic week in the state capital. And so it shall be next Saturday, when the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees hold a joint hearing to continue discussion on K-12 education and one of the largest general fund budgets in Nevada, the Distributive School Account.

The March 23 hearing may be the first Saturday legislative meeting of the 2013 session, but it won’t be the last.

HISTORIC SIDESHOW?

The Nevada Assembly could decide by the end of the week whether Steven Brooks is fit to serve in the Legislature.

Since January, Brooks has been arrested twice, hospitalized for a mental evaluation, denied a gun purchase, kicked out of his Democratic caucus, put on leave from his legislative duties, fired from his job with the city of Las Vegas and banished from the Legislature Building.

This week, a bipartisan select committee empaneled to review Brooks’ conduct could hold a hearing and recommend what action, including possible expulsion, should be taken against the North Las Vegas Democrat who was re-elected to a second term in November.

No Nevada lawmaker has ever been expelled, something that requires a two-thirds vote.

 

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