Bills to add fast-food tax, legalize marijuana don't make the cut

CARSON CITY — Bills that would have imposed a tax on fast food, allowed concealed-weapons permit holders to carry weapons on college campuses and legalized recreational marijuana all died Friday when they did not come up for votes by a legislative deadline for action.

Others not making the cut would have fined people who texted while crossing a road, abolished the Las Vegas constable’s office and levied a tax on guns and ammunition to help fund mental health and victims of crime programs.

But for every bill that did not survive past the deadline, many others won coveted support from legislative committees, allowing them to continue on their way through the 2013 legislative session.

A bill allowing the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver authorization cards for illegal residents saw a favorable vote, as did a bill sought by the city of Las Vegas to extend the life of its downtown redevelopment efforts. A school choice bill that Gov. Brian Sandoval sought also made the cut.

Lobbyists and lawmakers huddled and bargained throughout the day to get favorable votes on their measures to keep them alive.

All the successful bills still face a long road before Sandoval can sign them into law. Assembly bills have to pass the full Assembly and win approval in the Senate. The same has to occur in reverse for Senate bills.


Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, said her bill to allow those with concealed-weapons permits to take their weapons onto the state’s college campuses did not get a vote though it had the support of a majority of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Chairman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, disputed Fiore’s contention, saying there were not enough votes to get the bill out of committee.

Fiore called the decision not to call for a vote on the bill a partisan one and said she will work to help more Republicans win Assembly seats in the 2014 election to give it a better chance at passage in 2015.

“The death of campus carry is obviously a partisan decision, which motivates me to increase our Republican influence,” Fiore said.

And sorry, tokers, you won’t be smoking legal marijuana this year or next at least. Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, said Friday that his bill to legalize marijuana for recreational use died without a vote. Hogan said he was told that Sandoval would veto the bill, so the decision was made not to try to move the bill forward.

Another bill that failed was Senate Bill 294, sought by Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, to abolish the Las Vegas Township constable’s office as of July 1.

The bill was on the Senate Government Affairs work session agenda, but the panel adjourned without taking action.

A letter to the committee from Constable John Bonaventura said the effort to abolish his office violates the state constitution.

The Clark County Commission voted unanimously on March 19 to abolish the office as of Jan. 4, 2015. That is the date when Bonaventura’s term ends.

Roberson had no comment on the bill.


But Senate Bill 303, the driver authorization card measure sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would make Nevada the fourth state to allow undocumented people who pass the state driving test and obtain car insurance to legally drive on roads in the state.

About 60,000 people are expected to acquire the licenses. Supporters believe it will lead to safer roads and to fewer people driving without insurance. It also could result in lower insurance premiums.

The Las Vegas Redevelopment Authority extension in Assembly Bill 50 is being sought by the city so that revenue could be freed up to pursue new redevelopment projects. It would extend the agency’s life from 2031 to 2046 and free up revenue by allowing the refinancing of existing debt.

The bill was amended and now includes more transparency and reporting requirements, said committee Chairwoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno.

In earlier testimony on the bill, Bill Arent, director of the redevelopment agency, said the district is critical to moving downtown Las Vegas forward with economic diversification and job creation.

Senate Bill 445, Sandoval’s school choice bill, would give businesses tax breaks for donating money to fund school choice scholarships that would allow more students to attend private and religious schools. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and now is exempt from the legislative deadlines.

And after hours of negotiation, Roberson’s bill to establish oversight of the Southern Nevada Water Authority survived, but only by being sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

Roberson said in previous testimony that Senate Bill 232 would require experts to review proposed rate hikes to ensure they are fair, equitable and not unduly burdensome.

Authority officials are opposed to the measure.


Plenty of lawmakers and lobbyists were disappointed Friday, but maybe none more so than Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, who said none of his major bills even got to a committee work session.

They included Assembly Bill 122, the fast-food tax, and Assembly Bill 123, the bill that would have allowed law enforcement to cite pedestrians for texting while crossing a road.

Munford, in his fifth legislative session, said his seniority among Assembly Democrats should give him more consideration from his colleagues. Constituent concerns drove most of his bills, he said.

But Munford said he was most disappointed that Assembly Bill 399, which would have assessed a fee on boxing tickets to help retired boxers with medical expenses, did not survive the deadline.

“Where is their heart? Where is their compassion?” he said of his colleagues.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

Key bills that remain alive or have been killed in the Nevada Legislature through Friday, the deadline for legislators to pass most bills out of committees:

MINING TAX: Senate Joint Resolution 15 would allow voters next year to decide whether to change how the mining industry is taxed. The proposed constitutional amendment won approval in the Senate 17-4 and now needs Assembly support before it can be placed on the November 2014 ballot. With voter approval, the Legislature in 2015 could approve higher mining taxes.
ONLINE GAMING: Assembly Bill 114 would permit online poker by Nevada casinos. This bill has already become law, having been approved by both houses and signed by the governor in one day.
CONSOLIDATED TAX: Assembly Bill 68 makes changes to the "C" or consolidated tax law, providing what proponents say is a more equitable way to distribute state taxes to local governments. But North Las Vegas, which wanted $26 million more a year, will get only $3 million more. The bill has been signed into law by the governor.
POLICE, GAS TAXES: The Assembly Taxation Committee approved Assembly Bill 496 that would authorize the Clark County Commission to levy a 0.15 percentage point increase in the sales tax rate in the county. The money would be used by police departments to hire more cops. The committee also approved Assembly Bill 413 that would allow the County Commission to raise the per-gallon fuel tax rate by about 3 cents a year and let the Regional Transportation Commission of Clark County use the money for road projects.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 374 to create state licensed and regulated marijuana farms and dispensaries for medical marijuana patients. Sandoval had expressed support for the plan, which would provide marijuana to 3,400 approved patients.
SPEED LIMIT: Senate Bill 191, which would raise the speed limit to as high as 85 mph on portions of freeways in Nevada, was approved 15-6 in the Senate. Higher speeds would be permitted only if the Nevada Department of Transportation decides they are safe.
SEX TRAFFICKING: The Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Assembly Bill 67. Under the bill, pimps who turn young girls into prostitutes could be sentenced to life in prison, with minimum 15-year sentences in some cases.
GUN CHECKS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee members approved Senate Bill 221 to require universal background checks before applicants can purchase guns and require quicker reporting of mentally ill people who have been involuntarily committed. Also approved was Senate Bill 277, which would block the mentally ill from acquiring guns for as long as three years.
GAY MARRIAGE: The Senate Legislative Operations Committee on a 3-2 vote approved Senate Joint Resolution 13, a proposed constitutional amendment to allow gay marriage. The resolution must be approved by both houses of the Legislature this year and again in 2015 before it can go before voters in the 2016 general election.
DRIVER AUTHORIZATION CARDS: The Senate Transportation Committee voted 6-1 for Senate Bill 303 that would allow people who are in the country illegally to acquire driver authorization cards. These drivers would have to pass written and driving tests and, if they buy a vehicle, purchase liability insurance.
CALORIC CONTENT: The Assembly Health and Human Services Committee approved Assembly Bill 126 to require chain restaurants with 15 or more locations to post calorie content of the food they sell.
HATE CRIME: The Senate voted 20-1 for Senate Bill 139 to add crimes committed because of someone’s "gender identity or expression" to the list of hate crimes. Judges could require longer prison sentences for people convicted of these crimes.
UNDERAGE SMOKERS: Senate Bill 177 to outlaw cigarette smoking and use of tobacco products for children 17 and under won approval in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Children who repeatedly are caught smoking could lose their driver’s licenses for 30 days.

LEGAL MARIJUANA: The Assembly Judiciary Committee let Assembly Bill 402 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana to die without a vote. Sandoval opposed the idea and might have vetoed the bill.
GUNS, AMMO AND TAXES: Assembly Bill 234 to levy a $25 sales tax on gun purchases and a 2 cent tax for each round of ammunition died without a vote in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
CAMPUS CARRY: For the second straight session, a bill to allow people with concealed weapons permits to take their weapons onto Nevada college campuses died without a vote. Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas said there were enough votes to pass Assembly Bill 143, but the Democrat-dominated Judiciary Committee did not vote on the bill.
HELMET LAW: Once again, as in almost every legislative session, a bill to repeal the 1971 law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets died. This time no hearings were conducted on Senate Bill 150 at the author’s request because of his concern that some bill supporters would make "personal attacks" on members who oppose his bill.
YOUNG STRIPPERS: The Senate Judiciary Committee did not vote on Senate Bill 413, which would have required dancers in adult entertainment clubs to be at least 21 years old. Some as young as 18 are now permitted to dance completely nude in "juice bars."
JUNK FOOD TAX: The Assembly Taxation Committee did not vote on Assembly Bill 122 to levy a 5 percent tax on unhealthy food.
DANGEROUS ANIMALS: Although Senate Bill 245 designed to outlaw the new private ownership of dangerous animals passed, it was turned into a bill to allow local governments to decide what to do with dangerous animals.
BEAR HUNT: Although hundreds of people, including Indian tribe members, wanted the Senate Natural Resources Committee members to outlaw bear hunting, the committee changed Senate Bill 82 into a resolution — which has no force of law — that asks the Wildlife Commission to study the effects of bear hunting and to listen more to the wishes of bear hunt opponents.
STATE DOG: Senate Government Affairs Committee members did not vote on Senate Bill 225 to name the blue Weimaraner the official state dog. Some legislators had ridiculed the bill’s author for introducing a frivolous bill, but he introduced it on behalf of a 9-year-old constituent.
TEXTING: The Assembly Transportation Committee did not act on Assembly Bill 123 to prevent pedestrians from crossing streets or roads while texting or reading.
LEFTOVER CAMPAIGN FUNDS: The Assembly Legislative Operations Committee let a bill die that would have required politicians who leave office to dispose of all their leftover campaign funds within two years. The Republican-sponsored Assembly Bill 178 was aimed at former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, who left office in 2010 with a $575,000 campaign war chest. She contributed $155,000 to candidates in 2012.