Lawmakers advance bills as deadline looms

CARSON CITY -- With less than two weeks left in the 2009 legislative session, state lawmakers voted Tuesday for bills dealing with foreclosures, energy conservation, medical ethics and elections.

The Senate unanimously voted for Gov. Jim Gibbons' proposal to make Nevada energy-independent by making the state an energy exporter instead of an importer. Senate Bill 395, routed to the Assembly, also would abate property taxes of renewable energy producers for 10 years.

The tax break also would help developers of transmission lines for such projects. Gibbons' bill would increase the percentage of electricity that NV Energy must obtain from renewable sources to 25 percent by 2025.

The Assembly passed Senate Bill 339, requiring Nevada's Colorado River Commission to conduct a feasibility study to explore the use of hydrokinetic power from the Hoover Dam. The goal of the bill is to look into the widest range of renewable energy technologies possible.

Also passed by the Assembly was Senate Bill 8, which would have changed the process for appointment to medical boards, but the measure was amended to require that board members read and understand ethical standards.

The Assembly also passed Senate Bill 162, which would move the date of the mid-August primaries to early June; and for Senate Bill 128, which requires that foreclosure sales be recorded with the county recorder in a timely manner, to help keep track of the owner of a foreclosed home.

The Senate voted for Assembly Bill 463, aimed at blocking unwarranted use of high-priced consultants by state agencies. AB463 would restrict hiring of some consultants, require detailed reports on the use of consultants by agencies, call for audits of the contracts, and impose a one-year cooling-off period before former state employees could be hired as consultants.

In a 13-8 vote along party lines, senators gave final approval to Assembly Bill 493, a plan that tracks investments by the state Public Employees' Retirement System into Iran's oil-energy industry.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, pushed for her bill's approval by noting federal objections to official Iran behavior, including the country's support for international terrorism, efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and a dismal human rights record.