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Gibbons signs 155 bills into law; about 50 left for his OK or veto

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons must have felt like a famous author at a bookstore Wednesday as he signed into law 155 bills, including 11 approved June 5 during the four-hour special session that concluded the 2007 Legislature.

Gibbons signed all five bills needed to pay the $7 billion cost of state government during the next two years, including ones that give state employees 2 percent and 4 percent annual salary increases and carry out an $804 million state building program. Of that total, nearly $300 million will be spent on prison construction.

The governor also signed two so-called “pork barrel” bills to pay for special projects sought by individual legislators.

Legislators had complained for most of the session that there was no money for anything, but they mysteriously found the $20 million a day before adjournment.

The money will provide $1 million for housing programs for the homeless and an equal amount of money for Opportunity Village, along with $200,000 to allow retired Clark County doctors to operate a free clinic.

But also included in the pork barrel list is $10,000 to help construct a memorial for passengers who died on Flight 3 in Somerset County, Pa., during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Another $180,000 will be spent to create an Office of Ombudsman of Consumer Affairs for Minorities.

The governor also signed Assembly Bill 13, a proposal that has been the butt of jokes.

Under the bill — introduced by Assemblywoman Francis Allen, R-Las Vegas — children under age 13 will be required to wear life jackets when boating.

Critics have questioned why legislators bothered with the bill because, under current law, children under age 12 must wear life preservers on boats.

Allen introduced the bill because on the Arizona side of Lake Mead, the higher age requirement has been the law. Her bill will make the rules uniform.

Brent Boynton, Gibbons’ communications director, said the governor has about 50 more bills to sign or veto before a midnight Friday deadline. Governors have 10 days after the end of legislative session to sign bills.

Gibbons intends to have a ceremony today at the Capitol when he signs Assembly Bill 148, a measure to control sales of products used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Convenience stores will be prohibited under this law from selling cold remedies and decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine.

The governor, however, will wait until Friday before deciding whether to sign or veto Assembly Bill 396, a proposal affecting homeowners associations and their boards.

Hundreds of people have urged him to veto the bill.

Other bills signed by Gibbons on Wednesday included:

• Senate Bill 329, which allows police, firefighters and others to break into locked cars to free dogs and cats suffering in the heat or cold.

• Assembly Bill 212, which raises the compulsory age for attending school to 18. The age is now 17. The bill also requires schools to create four-year development plans for each student and forces the state Board of Education to develop a uniform grading system for schools..

• Assembly Bill 14, which increases penalties for people who damage property with graffiti. Under the bill, it becomes a crime to carry graffiti tools such as markers and aerosol paint cans in public places.

• Assembly Bill 246, which adds six judges to District Court in Clark County.

• Senate Bill 248, which will increase salaries of judges starting in 2009.

• Assembly Bill 617, which adds $36 million to the state’s rainy-day emergency fund.

• Senate Bill 123, which requires governments to allow citizens to see and copy public records within five days of making a written request.

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