Updated February 27, 2021 - 8:11 pm
CARSON CITY — The Nevada Legislature concluded the first month of its four-month, 120-day session on Friday still operating at a reduced level of activity in a session already expected to be more run-of-the-mill than swing-for-the-fences.
The legislative building remains closed to the public amid COVID-19 concerns, contributing to the odd sense that little is getting done. Both the Assembly and Senate worked through light agendas and took days off from floor sessions. Committee hearings, all being conducted virtually, drew complaints from some participants seeking more time to comment on bills.
Republicans in both houses are pressing for the building to reopen, citing relaxed restrictions on public gatherings implemented in recent weeks by the governor. Democrats, who control both houses, continue to urge caution and restraint.
Vaccinations begin, but still no firm reopening plans
With lawmakers, legislative staff and others who work in the building receiving vaccinations for COVID-19 last week, the timeline for when the facility could reopen to the general public is becoming ever so slightly less blurry.
Democratic leaders Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said in a joint statement Thursday that if everything goes to plan, the next phase for reopening the building could start in early April.
“We are discussing next steps now that many staff are starting to be vaccinated and are working off the assumption that vaccinations could have us on track for the next of phase of limited reopening in early April. All of this will be guided by case numbers and public health best practices,” the statement said.
What’s on deck
The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to hear Senate Bill 118, which would create the Nevada First Scholars Program within the Nevada System of Higher Education. The program would provide support or services like mentorship, tutoring, and access to food, technology or other resources for students who are low-income and prospective first-generation college students.
Assembly Bill 118 will be heard in the Assembly Growth and Infrastructure Committee. The bill would require children under 8 years old to be in a car seat; the current law that requires those under 6 to be in the seats. It would also remove the current 60-pound weight requirement but add a requirement that children under 57 inches tall use car seats.
Assembly Bill 157, which might deserve the nickname “Karen’s Law,” would allow people to sue if someone else calls the police on them based solely on their race, color, religion or other discriminatory reason that infringes on their rights. It will be heard before the Assembly Judiciary committee along with Assembly Bill 158, which would raise penalties for underage alcohol or marijuana consumption.
The Senate Judiciary committee will take up Senate Bill 148, which would require law enforcement agencies to maintain records of hate crimes and submit them once a quarter to the criminal history central repository and the attorney general.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear Assembly Bill 141, would automatically seal records of evictions for nonpayments that happen during the pandemic, and would require additional notice for no-cause evictions depending on how long the person had lived in the same place.
Carson City Journal is a weekly feature that summarizes the major events happening in the capital during the 2021 legislative session and provides a look at what’s coming next.
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