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Gibbons faces decision on vetoing budget bill

CARSON CITY — Nevada lawmakers, with just three weeks left in their 2007 session, learn Monday whether Gov. Jim Gibbons will veto a budget-balancing bill and whether their leaders have resolved differences over K-12 and higher education spending.

By week’s end, they’ll know what measures remain alive. Friday is the deadline for Senate-approved bills to move out of Assembly committees and for Assembly-endorsed measures to emerge from Senate committees. Anything that fails to advance, with some exceptions, is dead.

In reaching his decision on a veto, Gibbons will first get advice from the state attorney general on the lawsuit potential of SB567, a bill to erase “green” building tax breaks. He must weigh that against the potential for more revenue shortfall problems if the tax breaks stay in place.

Also Monday, Senate Republican leaders and Assembly Democratic leaders plan to meet behind closed doors for another effort to settle their differences over education funding. A big issue is the Assembly push to expand kindergarten throughout the state’s public schools.

Until the education funding is worked out, legislators can’t wrap up other spending plans in a nearly $7 billion state budget for the coming two fiscal years.

Legislative committees have hectic hearing schedules, and Assembly and Senate floor sessions will be busy. In the Assembly, nearly 40 measures are on Monday’s list of bills ready for final votes.

The Monday agenda for the Assembly Ways and Means Committee includes AB510, which would double good-time credits for inmates to ease costly prison overcrowding.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee reviews AB115, which would require higher fees of mining companies to pay for two new state positions to regulate mercury emissions.

The Senate Finance Committee takes up SB434, a measure governing off-highway vehicles that faces opposition from a group concerned about damage caused by excessive off-road activity.

On Tuesday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee reviews SB299, dealing with criminal charges when a fetus is killed, a proposal that triggered debate between abortion rights and anti-abortion activists.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has more than two dozen bills scheduled for discussion, on subjects ranging from domestic relations to genetic marker testing of convicts, wiretapping and terrorism.

The Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee discusses AB516 and AB517, dealing with initiative and referendum measures; while Senate and Assembly money committees discuss numerous measures and attempt to close more budgets.

On Wednesday, the budget-closing process continues in the money panels, and other committees hold work sessions to complete action on bills in advance of the Friday deadline for action on all measures.

Those hearings include an Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee session on SB53, which cracks down on musical imposters who fake connections to recording legends.

On Thursday, budget closings continue, notably the spending plan for the state prison system. The wrap-up effort on bills in other committees continues.

Besides the rush on Friday to complete committee work, lawmakers also have scheduled meetings of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees to go over numerous appropriation requests.

Those appropriations provide for supplemental funds for agencies dealing with taxation, education, public safety and Lake Tahoe, among others.

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