Anti-discrimination bills among 49 signed into law by Sandoval

CARSON CITY — Transgender people in Nevada now have a trifecta of laws to protect them from discrimination.

Gov. Brian Sandoval late Wednesday signed two more bills to prohibit discrimination against transgender men and women. He approved Senate Bill 331, which outlaws discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations, such as restaurants, hotels and stores. He also signed SB368, which prohibits discrimination against them in the rental and sale of housing and property.

The approval of the bills follows Sandoval’s decision May 14 to sign AB211, which prohibits job discrimination against transgender people. The new laws go into effect Oct. 1.

The transgender bills were among the 49 bills Sandoval signed on Wednesday night, after the completion of budget negotiations with legislative leaders, and again on Thursday.

Transgender people are those whose expression and personal identity is opposite to the sex they had at birth. There are an estimated 25,000 transgender people in Nevada. Some have undergone sex change operations, and many receive hormone replacement treatment. The Department of Motor Vehicles allows transgender people who have written authorization from their doctors to change their gender designation on their drivers’ licenses.

Sandoval signed the anti-discrimination transgender bills although only three of the 26 Republicans in the Legislature — Assembly members Kelly Kite of Minden, Richard McArthur of Las Vegas and Ed Goedhart of Amargosa Valley — voted for the public accommodations bill. All 37 Democrats backed that bill.

The housing discrimination bill received support of every Democrat, along with Assembly Republicans Kite, McArthur and Goedhart and Senate Republicans Mike McGinness of Fallon and Ben Kieckhefer of Reno.

The bills were sponsored by Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas; Sheila Leslie, D-Reno; and Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas.

Other bills signed by Sandoval included the following:

■ Assembly Bill 98, sponsored by Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, which allows the Division of Emergency Management to establish a system to allow doctors and veterinarians from other states to provide volunteer help in Nevada during emergencies.

■ AB500, sponsored by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, which cuts in half state appropriations from slot machine fees to programs that deal with problem gambling. The new law cuts to $1 per machine the money going to these programs, while the other $1 will go to the state general fund. On July 1, 2013, the funds collected will all go to problem gambling.

■ AB132, sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, which would allow Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas city councils to decide whether to have municipal elections on even-numbered year like state legislative and other elections.

■ AB393, sponsored by Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, D-Las Vegas, which requires licensed school district employees to report whether they have been arrested for any crime. Upon renewal of their licenses, teachers also must undergo a background investigation and provide their fingerprints for inspection by the state criminal history repository. A teacher with a bachelor’s degree is licensed for five years. A renewal costs $80, plus a $51 cost for the fingerprint and background check.

■ SB157, sponsored by Sen. Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas, which allows politicians to donate unpaid campaign contributions to state or local government programs. They can specify the funds go to the programs of their choice, such as the Millennium Scholarship program.

■ SB96, sponsored by Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, which encourages but does not require recipients of the Millennium Scholarship to volunteer to do at least 20 hours of community service per year.

■ SB441, sponsored by the Senate Finance Committee, which would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to enter into contracts to allow private companies to place computer terminals or kiosks in public places. Citizens could complete their business with the DMV on the terminals, but they would pay an additional fee to the private company.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

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