Hot hype for bills headed nowhere

Today is Day 27 of the 120-day Nevada Legislature, and so far there are two bills given enormous publicity that have scant chance of passing. But their Clark County sponsors certainly are getting plenty of free publicity.

Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Munford’s bill to add a nickel tax to fast food with more than 500 calories is a nonstarter. So is Republican Assemblywoman’s Michele Fiore’s bill to let university and community college students carry concealed weapons on campus if they have permits.

Munford’s Assembly Bill 122 is a poor one because while he hopes it would help in the battle of childhood obesity, a nickel more won’t stop anyone from buying a Big Mac.

Saying it’s “for education” is also a joke because earmarking taxes for a specific purpose is poor policy. It sounds good, but nothing prevents legislators from reducing another area of the education budget. It’s not a guaranteed enhancement.

Fiore’s Assembly Bill 143 is a rerun of the failed efforts made in 2007 by Las Vegas Councilman Stavros Anthony, then a regent, and in 2011 by state Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas.

In both cases, law enforcement, the majority of regents and university officials came out strongly against the idea of allowing students with concealed- weapons permits to carry on campus.

Can Fiore, a freshman Republican who is not even in the majority in the Assembly, convince enough Democratic legislators this is a good idea? It’s doubtful. It might squeak out of the Judiciary Committee but it won’t pass the Assembly with its majority of Democrats.

Her most compelling persuader is the tragic incident of a Reno student who believes she could have fought off her rapist if she had been allowed to carry on campus. No one can mock her for wishing she had been carrying her gun then.

In my view, both Munford and Fiore are wasting their time and your money on bills that have no chance. But they’re nabbing plenty of face time on TV and space in newspapers.

I won’t go so far as to say that was their goal all along, Most likely, they both sincerely believe their ideas are good ones. I suspect neither bill will get out of their respective houses by the April 23 deadline. They could die in committee by the April 12 deadline.

You can look up your senator and Assembly member on the Nevada Legislature website and check “legislator information” at http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/77th2013/legislators/. That is where you can see the bills they sponsor, from the silly to the sublime.

During Munford’s 2011 session, seven of his 15 bills passed. He offered the same fat tax bill then.

One bill he sponsored, which did pass, prohibited the use of hand-held wireless devices while driving. I actually liked that bill.

But anyone who drives knows people are ignoring it. All you have to do is look at the driver in the car next to you to see lawbreaking scofflaws of every age, race, sex and socioeconomic level. The multiple tickets given to some people show that the modest fines for texting and using their cellphones with their hands are not working.

Fiore is a primary sponsor of 28 bills in her first session. Her interests seem to be guns, hunting, fishing, homeowners associations, motorcycles, counseling and sealing public records of criminals, among other subjects. Let us see how many pass.

The quote that seems to bolster my view that these bills are driven by desire for publicity was made Thursday at the hearing on Munford’s bill to ban texting while walking across the street, another likely loser.

“It’s an attention-getter,” he said.

What he didn’t say was that, if it became law, it would most likely be ignored.

Another going-nowhere bill grabbed a big headline.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com
or call her at 702-383-0275. She also blogs at
lvrj.com/blogs/Morrison

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