Nevada Legislature lagging in number of approved bills

CARSON CITY — “Now We Are Six” was humorous book of children’s poems written by A.A. Milne of Winnie-the-Pooh fame.

But in Carson City as of May 1, now we are six is the total number of bills passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Only six bills out of the 1,026 bills introduced in the 2013 Legislature have become law in the first 86 days of the 120-day legislative session. That seems awfully low. Fourteen had become law as of May 1 in the last legislative session in 2011.

But with so few bills becoming laws, it’s kind of easy to remember and write about them all.

There’s the bill that appropriates $15 million to cover the costs of the Legislature, the bill that legalized online poker in the state, and the one that created a new formula to distribute state taxes to local governments.

Ultimate Poker, the first online site, went into business Tuesday so the fruits of the legislative labor already are emerging.

Then there is the bill that sets out the qualifications of the 21 members of the Nevada Youth Legislature. And another that allows utilities that are not showing demand increases to request waivers from the Public Utilities Commission in the preparation of resource plans.

Unlike the online poker bill, the Youth Legislature proposal has been ignored. Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, had to remind senators Tuesday that only 11 of the 21 had turned in their choices of people to serve on the Youth Legislature. The deadline is Wednesday.

And lastly the sixth new law comes from the bill that transfers the old courthouse in Belmont from the control of the state to Nye County. The state has no money to repair the courthouse — once believed to have been frequented by members of the Charles Manson gang — so the transfer to the county that’s better off financially made common sense.

Unlike Milne, who wrote “But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever, So I think I’ll be six for ever and ever,” the Legislature and Sandoval won’t be content with six. Five hundred is more like it.

Two bills won legislative approval Tuesday and are destined to become laws.

The Senate adopted an Assembly-approved to Senate Bill 510 that would delay the time when school districts have to notify teachers if they are going to be rehired or receive pink slips. The Clark County School District requested the amendment because it doesn’t need extra time.

A version of this bill comes up at about every legislative session.

The Senate also passed Assembly Bill 175, a proposal by Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, D-Las Vegas, to allow service members and their spouses and citizens based in foreign counties to use “digital signatures” in registering to vote and signing ballots when using the Internet to vote.

Scott Gilles, the deputy secretary of state for elections, said 26 percent of the 6,449 ballots transmitted to military and overseas voters last fall were returned. He does not how why these ballots were not cast.

But the bill would do away with the “often burdensome requirement to sign election documents by hand,” which requires a printer and scanner, Gilles said. The voter now has to print out the ballot and convert into a PDF file that can be emailed or faxed back to the election clerks.

By using digital signatures, the voter would not need a printer or a scanner or a fax machine. They are not always at hand in war zone, Anderson said.

“AB175 passed unanimously because it adapts our process for military voters with the reality they are facing when they are deployed to far flung locations, ensuring they are not disenfranchised when they are fighting for our freedom overseas,” Anderson added.

So now we are six soon will be eight, and then skyrocket by hundreds more as legislators pass even more bills.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.