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Key deadline kills 18 bills in Carson City

CARSON CITY — Democratic and Republican leaders from both houses Wednesday gave similar and largely conciliatory assessments of lawmakers’ efforts to pass a combined 180 bills Tuesday to meet a deadline for first house passage — a cutoff that saw just 18 bills fail to advance.

On the Assembly side, dead bills included Assembly Bill 281, which would have barred state law enforcement from detaining someone for immigration authorities without probable cause of committing a crime, and Assembly Joint Resolution 9, which sought to make judgeships appointed rather than elected posts.

In the Senate, the most significant bill failing to advance was Senate Bill 165, which sought to legalize physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, in a briefing for reporters Wednesday with Assembly Majority Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, said there were “some messages about (AB 281) that were not accurate that caused a stir.”

Benitez-Thompson added that Assembly Democrats still hoped to address the issue. She cited Tuesday night’s passage of Assembly Bill 376, sponsored by Assemblywoman Selena Torres, D-Las Vegas, which would require local law enforcement agencies to submit reports to the Legislature detailing how many people were detained and transferred to federal immigration authorities and what misdemeanor crimes with which they were originally charged.

“We think that that data is going to be very helpful in moving policy down the road,” Benitez-Thompson said.

Simple math

As for as the appointed judges measure, Frierson said it was a matter of simple math.

“There wasn’t the support there to move it forward,” he said.

The Senate moved through a lighter deadline day calendar Tuesday, acting on approximately 50 bills before adjourning about 7:20 p.m. Besides the assisted-suicide bill, seven other Senate measures failed to advance.

“I think we were able to process a large amount of work in a relatively short period of time,” said Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas.

Assembly Republicans in their Wednesday briefing noted that one-third of GOP-sponsored bills survived the deadline compared to just more than half of the bills Democrats sponsored.

“I have to thank the leadership on the other side for working with us,” said Minority Leader Jim Wheeler, R-Minden. “So while there’s still some inequity, it is much, much better.”

As the Legislature shifts more fully into setting and approving budgets, Wheeler said Republicans don’t believe there is funding or projected revenue to support Democratic initiatives such as raises for teachers, changing prevailing wage laws, or giving state employees collective bargaining rights.

“We’ve got some things that we think are going to cost the state a lot of money, and we want to be able to take those things and maybe shed some light on them so that the public can see what’s coming up,” Wheeler said.

Republicans also believe that some Democratic spending proposals, such as extending certain business taxes, will require a two-thirds majority vote. Wheeler would not say whether partisan disagreements over that issue had been resolved.

Working together

Wheeler’s Senate counterpart, Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, had similar remarks regarding the efforts of his caucus through a session that is now two-thirds complete.

“We worked in a bipartisan way on those amendments to get legislation that’ll help all Nevadans,” he said. “And that’s why a lot of times we supported bills, whether it was renewable energy or the paid sick leave.”

But he criticized the defeat of GOP-sponsored campaign finance reform legislation in light of former Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson’s forced resignation in March. Atkinson admitted misappropriating of campaign funds for personal use and pleaded guilty to federal felony charges.

“You think we would have done something on that, but no,” Settelmeyer said.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter. Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.con or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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