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Nevada Dems, GOP see bills die equally at first big deadline

Updated April 16, 2019 - 12:25 pm

CARSON CITY — Democrats and Republicans saw the same number of bills perish last week after Friday’s deadline for legislation to move out of committee.

The rankings for individual lawmakers were less balanced, with four Republicans, the minority party in the Legislature, leading the dead bill list with double-digit losses. That included the party’s Senate and Assembly leaders, who carry more bills because of their rank.

Of the 277 total pieces of legislation that didn’t make Friday’s cut, each caucus dropped 102 bills or resolutions where one of their members was listed as prime sponsor. An additional 72 dead bills were sponsored by a committee.

One additional loss was a joint resolution regarding the minimum wage carried over from the 2017 session. At least 15 dead bills had bipartisan co-sponsors.

Friday’s culling represents 26 percent of the 1,061 bills and resolutions filed this session and leaves 784 still in play.

Lawmakers who saw the most bills die were first-term Sen. Keith Pickard, R-Henderson, and third-term Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, each with 11; and the Senate and Assembly GOP minority leaders, Sen. James Settelmeyer and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, both of Minden, who each lost 10.

Pickard withdrew as sponsor of a 12th dead bill, Senate Bill 389, which would have banned backyard beekeeping in suburban and urban areas of southern Nevada.

Second-term Republican Sen. Scott Hammond tied with first-term Democrat Sen. James Ohrenschall for fifth-most dead bills, with eight each. Both represent parts of Las Vegas. Ohrenschall had the most dead bills among Democrats, followed by Assemblywoman Ellen Speigel, D-Henderson, with six. Three Democrats each saw five bills die: Sens. Chris Brooks and Yvanna Cancela and Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, all of Las Vegas.

Seniority determines how many bills lawmakers may introduce. First-term Assembly members are allotted up to six bill drafts and incumbents get 10. Those numbers are doubled for senators. The Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader, and minority leaders in both houses get more. Newer members, with fewer relationships and less experience in the body, are likely to see more of their bills fail.

By house, 145 pieces of legislation died in the Assembly and 132 in the Senate. In the Assembly, where Democrats hold a 29-13 advantage, the breakdown of dead bills roughly reflected the partisan divide, with 64 Democratic bills dying to 46 for Republicans. The remaining 35 were committee-sponsored.

The same was not true in the Senate, where Republican-sponsored bills comprised the majority of non-committee bills that failed to move on. Republicans hold eight of 21 seats but saw 56 of their bills die compared to 38 for Democrats.

“Looking at the Senate, obviously more Republican bills failed, but they’re in charge, (and) not at such a discrepancy,” Settelmeyer said. He added, however, that majority Democrats are “killing stuff that they don’t have answers for.”

Settelmeyer did not read anything into Pickard suffering the most dead bills. The former assemblyman narrowly won his Senate seat in 2018 by a margin of just 24 votes and could be considered a vulnerable incumbent when he’s on the ballot next in 2022.

“It’s just a reality sometimes that you build relationships over time and through that process of building relationships you have better success of getting bills passed.”

Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

Carson City Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead contributed to this report.

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