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COMING UP IN CARSON: Tests for judges, drone building inspectors and new life for Yucca Mountain?

Updated March 27, 2023 - 12:06 pm

Lawmakers in Carson City will be busy as the eighth week of the session kicks off on Monday.

That flurry of white in the capital won’t (just) be snow; it will be the bills requested by lawmakers finally getting done after a deadline was pushed from last week to Monday. If only we in journalism could do that!

Here’s a look at just some of the things that are coming up in Carson City this week:

Testing for judges: Many people didn’t realize — until former Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore was appointed to be a justice of the peace in Nye County — that the only requirement for that job in many rural parts of the state is simply a high-school diploma. Apparently, at least in rural Nevada, it’s difficult to find people willing to do the job who are bona fide lawyers.

But state Sen. Melanie Scheible, D-Las Vegas, who is an actual lawyer and a graduate of Columbia Law School, wants to add at least one requirement for anybody in Nevada to work as a justice of the peace: a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Her Senate Bill 354 is scheduled to be heard on Friday in the Judiciary Committee, which she chairs.

Use it, don’t lose it!: State Sen. James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, knows that the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository sits empty and unused ever since former President Barack Obama stopped a process to license the facility in favor of finding a consent-based process to store the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. But why leave it as it is, when it could be put to good use? (No, not a nuclear-themed amusement park, although a split-the-atom roller coaster would be cool.)

Instead, Ohrenschall has introduced Senate Joint Resolution 4, which would urge the federal government to use Yucca Mountain “… for the development and storage of renewable energy.” It’s set to be heard in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. Although the resolution doesn’t specify what type of energy, it would be highly ironic to see a nuclear power plant developed on the land. Hey, that’s renewable power that’s emissions free! But given that Nevada has vast tracts of land that get lots of sunlight, a big solar array at an otherwise unused federal project could be beneficial to everybody.

Cylon … building inspectors?: Well, not really. But a bill sought by the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities would require the state Department of Public Safety to adopt regulations to allow public agencies to use unmanned aerial vehicles — what humans call “drones” — to conduct building code and fire inspections. Senate Bill 11 will come up Monday in the Growth and Infrastructure Committee, and would also allow Skynet, er, public officials flying drones, to inspect public works and public property. So if a big guy who looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator” shows up at your door, don’t worry too much: He may just be there to make sure your shed is up to code.

Big(ger) government?: Also on Monday, the Senate Government Affairs Committee will hear Senate Bill 184, a bill by state Sens. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, and Edgar Flores, D-Las Vegas, that would revise the North Las Vegas city charter to add two seats to the City Council, starting with the 2024 election. Spearman, who lost a lopsided race for mayor in November, says she does not intend to run for one of the new seats, but the incumbent mayor, Pamela Goynes-Brown, opposes the charter change anyway. (Currently among local governments, only the Las Vegas City Council and the Clark County Commission have seven members.)

Gone to the dogs: Pets also will be on the agenda this week: Senate Bill 331, to be heard Monday in the Senate’s Government Affairs Committee, would require emergency management plans to include a shelter to accommodate people with pets, and to make plans for the evacuation and shelter of people with pets. And Senate Bill 269, on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee’s agenda for Tuesday, would prohibit people from restraining dogs during a heat advisory issued by the National Weather Service. (Currently, there are prohibitions on restraining dogs using certain types of collars or chains, and for more than 14 hours per day.)

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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