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Emotional testimony, CCSD reorganization part of packed week in Nevada Legislature

CARSON CITY — Investigations, medically assisted suicide, reorganization of the nation’s fifth-largest school district and state parks dominated the 14th week of the Nevada Legislature as lawmakers pushed toward a mandatory June 5 adjournment.

CCSD reorganization

Gov. Brian Sandoval on Monday signed Assembly Bill 469, a key piece of legislation to decentralize administration of the Clark County School District and give more power to principals and schools over management and budgeting.

“It allows for more of a bottom-up process for the schools, because no two schools are the same,” Sandoval said at the bill-signing ceremony.

Since the enactment of a 2015 law mandating the district’s reorganization, legislators and school officials — most notably the district’s trustees — have clashed over the regulations, which more thoroughly detail how the law is supposed to be carried out. The bipartisan bill this session writes the regulations into law, which lawmakers said would bring stability to the process.

Death with dignity or assisted suicide?

Emotions were raw Wednesday when the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard Senate Bill 261, which would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.

Supporters said the legislation would give people facing death within six months peace of mind to know they can avoid prolonged pain and suffering, and allow them to die with dignity at a time of their choosing.

Debbie Ziegler, mother of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who took life-ending drugs on Nov. 1, 2014, after suffering brain cancer, gave tearful testimony, describing her daughter’s pain and desire to die on her terms.

But critics argued doctors cannot adequately predict how long someone will live. They fear insurance companies would refuse to cover expensive treatment to prolong life, and that the sick and frail would be pressured to die.

No action was taken on the bill, which faces an uphill climb. Sandoval opposes the policy.

Senator investigated

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford confirmed last week he has hired an outside investigator to look into allegations of sexual harassment by Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas.

Senate Republicans called for immediate action by the majority, demanding Senate hearings and the removal of Manendo from committee assignments, including the Senate Transportation Committee chairmanship.

The GOP caucus said multiple reports of harassment against Manendo go back years, including claims in 2003 and 2009. Manendo lost an Assembly chairmanship following the 2003 session.

Manendo has hired Las Vegas attorney Richard Wright, who in a statement said Manendo had not been told specifics of the recent allegations and will cooperate with the investigator.

“We remain confident that he will ultimately be exonerated,” Wright said.

Kids and parks

Sandoval capped off the week with a bill signing at the scenic Mormon Station State Park in Genoa.

Accompanied by schoolchildren, he signed Assembly Bill 385, which gives every Nevada fifth-grader a one-year pass to state parks. Anyone in the vehicle accompanying the children also gets free admission.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, the goal is to get young people enthused about the outdoors and encourage an active lifestyle.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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