Assembly Democrats move bills

CARSON CITY — The polarization between political parties continued Wednesday in the Assembly as Democrats supported four bills that Republicans argued could be a financial burden on businesses and school districts.

Because Democrats hold a 26-16 membership advantage, all four bills moved to the Senate.

"There were different reasons for opposing different bills. Mostly it was because they put a burden on businesses," said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka.

His caucus voted as a bloc against Assembly Bill 429, which requires mobile home park owners to pay to move tenants as far as 150 miles, including into adjacent states, if they close their parks.

"That is a real hardship on the park owners," Goicoechea said.

Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, said he was dismayed by the Republican opposition to his moving bill. He said current law requires moving costs for as far as 100 miles and said he thought park owners and tenants both supported his bill.

"A lot of people in my district are seniors who don’t have grubstake to start over," said Ohrenschall, adding that relocation can run from $4,000 to $10,000.

The bill passed 26-16, but it could die if vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The party-line votes came about 12 hours after a Tuesday night Committee of the Whole meeting when all Assembly Republicans in a nonbinding vote said they support Sandoval’s plans to cut public education, reduce teacher salaries and end merit pay. Democrats universally voted no.

Also facing a possible veto is Assembly Bill 403, which passed on a party-line vote Wednesday. It calls on state agencies to "implement the various laws of the Legislature" through permanent rules to carry out those laws.

Goicoechea said this bill "flies in the face" of Sandoval’s executive order in January that suspended state agencies from passing rules that might hurt business.

"The governor is granting waivers on regulations he feels need to go forward," he added.

The minority leader said he does not know whether Sandoval will veto any of the four bills. The governor’s policy has been not to announce whether he will sign or veto bills.

Goicoechea said the Republican caucus wanted to kill two more bills, but Democrats moved them off the voting board at the last moment.

Also, on a party-line vote, Democrats passed AB318, which places the burden of proof on school districts in lawsuits filed on behalf of disabled students.

Then Democrat Marilyn Kirkpatrick joined the 16 Republicans in opposing AB267, which would allow unions to represent injured workers in workers’ compensation hearings.

Less contentious was AB227, a bill that requires schools to allow nonprofit groups to use their outdoor athletic fields if they cover liability costs.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said he proposed the bill because when he was a Little League coach, a principal refused to let his team use the school’s fields even when not in use. The bill passed 40-2.

Also winning approval was AB455, which sets policy for handling students who suffer concussions in athletic competition.

Assemblyman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said the bill requires the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association to require that students suspected of having a head injury be immediately removed from the activity.

They may not return unless their parents present a letter from a doctor that the student is medically cleared to play.

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

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