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Sisolak vetoes 4 bills from 2021 Legislature

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Friday that he’d vetoed four bills passed during the 2021 Legislature, including bills on housing discrimination, tourism districts and the creation of legislative ethics commissions.

The bills Sisolak declined to sign are:

Assembly Bill 65, sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections. The bill would have made changes to the powers and duties of the state Ethics Commission.

But Sisolak objected to provisions that would have created new legislative ethics commissions to oversee the Senate, Assembly and legislative staff. The governor noted that separate ethics commissions for the executive and legislative branches of government were consolidated into the existing Ethics Commission in 1985, and that the current commission already has jurisdiction over lawmakers for things such as misusing government time or property and improperly contracting with state government agencies.

“Particularly in light of the fact that the separate legislative and executive ethics commissions were consolidated more than thirty years ago, I firmly believe that a more robust examination of the costs and benefits of returning to that structure should be considered,” Sisolak wrote.

Assembly Bill 368, sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno. The bill would have required additional reporting on taxes within tourism improvement districts, which pledge sales tax revenues to projects built within those zones.

Sisolak said in a veto statement he rejected the bill because it would have prohibited cities and counties outside Clark County from forming new tourism districts. “However, AB 368 is contrary to the goals of restarting our economy, improving our infrastructure, and creating jobs,” the governor wrote. “When many Nevadans are still struggling, now is not the time to remove any of the tools that local governments can use to encourage and generate economic development.”

Senate Bill 254, sponsored by state Sen. Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas. The bill would have changed housing discrimination laws to match federal laws, allowing the Nevada Equal Rights Commission to investigate complaints. And it would have limited the use of criminal history in rental decisions, except for violent or sexual offenses or arson.

In his veto statement, Sisolak said the bill would “potentially deprive Nevadans of superior, cost-free fair housing enforcement that is currently available to them via” the federal government. In addition, he said it would create “significant legal costs” to prosecute discrimination cases. The bill would also have required “… landlords to rent to people with convictions for other serious crimes, including drug dealing, burglary, theft, fraud and others.”

Senate Bill 391, sponsored by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. The bill would have created new rules governing teledentistry.

But Sisolak objected to a provision creating a new committee that would make rules for dentistry during an emergency. The committee would have met twice a year, whether or not an emergency existed, and would have been exempt from the state’s Open Meeting Law.

“It is unclear why a new committee is necessary to develop such recommendations, or whether those policies would be binding on the (state) Dental Board and on dentists and dental hygienists. There is no similar committee for other licensed medical professionals,” Sisolak wrote, adding, “I strongly disagree with such a broad exemption from the Open Meeting Law.”

The vetoed bills will be returned to the 2023 Legislature, when lawmakers can decide if they want to override the governor’s vetoes with a two-thirds majority.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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