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Outside factors complicate matters as end nears for Nevada Legislature

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Legislature last week encountered political complications that could challenge lawmakers’ efforts to finish their business by a mandated deadline in three weeks.

Not only do Education Savings Accounts remain unresolved as Week 15 begins, but lawmakers are dealing with extraneous issues: an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by one lawmaker and questions about the attorney general’s involvement in a gaming matter.

The education program would provide parents who withdraw their children from public schools with about $5,200 for alternatives from distance learning to private school. Gov. Brian Sandoval and Republican lawmakers support the program, which was part of Sandoval’s proposed budget. Democrats do not. Negotiations continue as the clock ticks toward a June 5 adjournment.

Senate Finance Chairwoman Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, said Friday a bill funding ESAs will get a hearing “in the next few weeks.”

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, has initiated an outside investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas. And Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, subpoenaed Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett’s secret recording of a 2016 conversation he had with Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

The meeting dealt with a request by Las Vegas Sands Corp. to have the board file a “friend of the court” brief supporting the company in a lawsuit filed by a former employee.

Carlton, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, is expected to hold a hearing on a Control Board funding bill. A bill is being drafted as a result of the information provided to her by Burnett. Carlton said Friday she expects the hearing to be held jointly with the Senate Finance Committee.

The hearing will at least temporarily divert the panels from efforts to finish work on Sandoval’s two-year, $8.2 billion general fund budget early enough to meet the Legislature’s constitutionally mandated adjournment date.

Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to close budgets and process legislation with a looming Friday deadline for second house passage of dozens of bills.

Monday

The Senate Commerce Committee will take up Assembly Bill 113, which would require employers to make accommodations for nursing mothers.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee has scheduled a vote on an assisted suicide bill. Senate Bill 261 would allow a terminally ill person to receive drugs to end their life. The measure had an emotional hearing last week.

Tuesday

The Senate Education Committee will hear a bill to eliminate the Achievement School District, which was created by the 2015 Legislature. Senate Bill 430 would rescind that measure.

The controversial program would partner charter operators with underperforming public schools in Clark County and take over the day-to-day operation of the school in efforts to increase student achievement.

Thursday

A joint Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means subcommittee will finalize budgets for the Corrections Department.

Friday

A similar panel will take action on the state capital improvement program for the next two years.

Other committee agendas are being finalized and have not been posted.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

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

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