Legislature plans busy second week

CARSON CITY — Taxes, budgets, bears and a whole lot more — such as higher education, mining and firearms — are on tap as the second week of the Nevada Legislature begins today.

Here are five highlights :

TAXES

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said the discussion about Nevada’s tax structure would begin on Day 2 of this year’s session. It did. The Assembly Taxation and Senate Revenue and Economic Development committees hold a joint hearing Tuesday on taxes that will expire June 30 unless lawmakers agree to extend them.

The $620 million in taxes were supposed to expire in 2011, but were continued for another two years after a Nevada Supreme Court ruling questioned funding sources used by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to balance the budget. He has said he will again extend those taxes to avoid more deep cuts to education.

The Assembly Taxation Committee on Thursday will take up Assembly Bill 68, which would revamp how some taxes are distributed . Both the Assembly and Senate tax panels then will be briefed on Nevada’s live entertainment tax. On Friday, the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee will consider a measure authorizing an interim study on taxing services in Nevada.

BUDGETS

Legislative money committees were briefed on the governor’s budget before the session began. Now they are delving into details, with daily hearings scheduled by the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

Up this week are budgets for elected officials, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Public Employees Retirement System, Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, as well mental health, energy, public utilities, public safety and the Nevada System of Higher Education.

MINING

Nevada is the largest gold producer in the United States. With prices around $1,600 per ounce, the industry is a frequent target when the state looks for revenue.

Tuesday, natural resources committees in the Assembly and Senate will hold a joint hearing to get an overview of mining, from the Nevada Mining Association and state Division of Minerals to mining exploration and regulation oversight.

FIREARMS

The link between firearms and public health is in the forefront of the debate over gun control since December’s Newtown, Conn., school massacre and President Barack Obama’s call for universal background checks, prohibitions against gun trafficking and an assault weapons ban.

Those same debates are expected in the Nevada Legislature. On Thursday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hear from mental health and medical experts, as well as representatives of law enforcement and the judiciary, on mental health and firearms public health research.

BEAR HUNTS

Today is Tribal Day at the Nevada Legislature, and part of the day’s observance will include a protest by Native Americans of Nevada’s black bear hunt.

Tribal members will perform a Round Dance in front of the Legislative Building to show support for Senate Bill 82, which would prohibit bear hunting .

The state created its first black bear hunt in 2011. Tribal groups say the bear is sacred to American Indians.

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