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Nevada Senate, Assembly committees hear score of measures

CARSON CITY — The Legislature’s two money committees got back to work Saturday after the Assembly worked past midnight passing bills to meet a deadline for second house passage.

The deadline is crucial for lawmakers to end by June 5.

On Saturday, the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees met separately to hear a score of measures that were not subject to the Friday deadline.

The Senate on Friday finished its business by early evening. But the Assembly, scheduled to go in at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, did not convene until after 8:30 p.m. Lawmakers passed dozens of measures, including several Senate bills past midnight, ostensibly the deadline for action.

Assembly Majority Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, responded to Twitter chatter about the Saturday votes by saying that lawmakers were working through a legislative day, which ended when the work was done, not because the clock had struck midnight.

The Friday deadline is self-imposed by lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate.

But Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, was calmly pushing forward with votes as midnight neared, suggesting an effort to meet the time frame. It did not happen; five Senate measures got votes early Saturday morning.

Bills passing after midnight were:

Senate Bill 268, relating to corrections

Senate Bill 270, a water measure

Senate Bill 324 dealing with checking with vital signs

Senate Bill 369 dealing with professional development in the public schools

Senate Bill 400, dealing with contracts involving the Department of Health and Human Services.

By 12:11 a.m. Saturday, it was all over in the Assembly.

Whether the “legislative day” theory is correct or not, it won’t come into play on June 5, the adjournment deadline. The Legislature must finish by midnight that day because it is a voter-imposed constitutional deadline.

The bills passing included Assembly Bill 362, a bill that works to prevent educators who have engaged in sexual misconduct with a student from finding new employment. The bill passed unanimously and is now in the Senate. It is one of the bills cited in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “Broken Trust” series, which highlights misconduct issues in the Clark County School District.

The Assembly also unanimously passed Senate Joint Resolution 17 from the 2015 session, which will establish rights for crime victims if voters approve it in 2018.

Assembly Bill 159, banning hydraulic fracturing in Nevada, also passed and now will be considered by the Senate.

But some bills missed the deadline and appear to be dead for the session, including Senate Bill 236, which would have allowed for marijuana clubs where people could use the drug, which is legal for recreational use in Nevada.

Also dead is a bill that would have expanded rules for child restraint use in vehicles. Senate Bill 156 would have required restraints for children up to age 7 from age 5 now.

In all, 14 bills died because of the deadline.

As the Assembly buzzed with activity, Gov. Brian Sandoval was busy, too. He vetoed two more bills and signed 19 more. A statement announcing the actions was not issued until after 10 p.m. on Friday.

The Ways and Means Committee heard a variety of bills, including energy measures and Assembly Bill 40, seeking $10 million for a new White Pine County courthouse.

Senate Finance approved several bills including Senate Bill 402, restricting the use of solitary confinement, and Senate Bill 249, requiring instruction in financial literacy in the public schools. It also approved Senate Bill 306 establishing a pilot program for some offenders in transitional housing to use electronic devices to take classes and vocational training through the College of Southern Nevada.

Finance members also approved Senate Bill 451 creating a Nevada Sentencing Commission to consider issues related to criminal sentences. Another approved measures, Senate Bill 126, establishes a loan program to help small businesses and minority- and women-owned businesses.

It may be Memorial Day weekend, but lawmakers will be back on a full schedule Monday. There is a little more than a week left in the session and there is plenty to accomplish, including approving a bill imposing a new retail tax on marijuana sales and resolving an impasse over education savings accounts.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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