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.
CAMPUS CARRY BILL FAILS
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.
BILLS STILL BREATHING
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.
MUNFORD AMONG THE DISAPPOINTED
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.