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Licenses for undocumented drivers among a flood of new bills introduced in Carson City

CARSON CITY — A bill that would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue “driver privilege cards” to undocumented immigrants was introduced with bipartisan support in the state Senate on Monday.

The bill was among scores introduced on the deadline set by lawmakers for consideration in the 2013 session.

Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said he patterned his driver privilege card bill after a law in Utah and expects 60,000 people to seek the licenses. He said the bill will ensure that undocumented people pass driver tests and secure insurance, a step that will help all other drivers. The measure is supported by both parties in both houses.

While Denis and legislative leaders are moving toward the driver’s license plan for undocumented residents, Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, introduced a bill that would do just the opposite. Senate Bill 367 would deny drivers’ licenses to undocumented residents and prohibit them from receiving state benefits.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, jumped into the constable controversy in Clark County by introducing a bill that would make the county sheriff the constable in the Las Vegas Township. Senate Bill 294 would abolish the constable’s office if the bill is approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Roberson said the Legislature could move to approve the measure within 30 days.

The Clark County Commission is set to decide today on a proposal that would abolish the constable’s office, effective at the end of Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura’s term in 2015.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, introduced a constitutional amendment to start the cumbersome process of repealing Nevada’s defense of marriage act. Senate Joint Resolution 13, if passed twice in the Legislature and then by the voters, would repeal the provision that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

If it were repealed, lawmakers could make a push to legalize same-sex marriage.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, proposed legislation to require new Medicaid patients to pay a $5 charge for visiting emergency rooms in nonemergency situations. His Senate Bill 306 was expected because several legislators have suggested that co-pays should be required in the wake of Sandoval’s decision to expand Medicaid as permitted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, in the Assembly, Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, introduced Assembly Bill 319, which would require a government ID to vote. Stewart, who has tried to get such legislation passed in prior sessions, said because nearly everyone has an ID, it would not impose an undue burden on voters.

Because of the potential of voter fraud, the requirement would help provide assurances that Nevada’s elections are free of such problems, he said.

Denis would not speculate whether all the attention given to embattled Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, affected the ability of legislative lawyers to draw up bills in a timely manner.

Brooks has been arrested twice. The Select Assembly Committee is expected soon to meet to recommend to the full Assembly whether the lawmaker should be expelled.

Lawmakers imposed the bill deadline on themselves to ensure the 120-day session ends on time in June.

Getting bills through the Legislature will be an uphill battle for lawmakers. The next big deadline is April 12.

On that date, Assembly and Senate bills not exempted from the rules must move out of committee in the house of origin. Many bills traditionally fail on that day. Other bills introduced Monday included the following:

■ Assembly Bill 330, introduced by Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, would require labeling of genetically engineered foods.

■ Senate Bill 300, introduced by Roberson, would cut in half the government services tax that drivers must pay each year to register their cars. His bill, however, could not go into effect unless legislators approve a tax increase that makes up the lost revenue, about
$31 million a year.

■ Senate Bill 380, introduced by Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, would require adult entertainment businesses that feature various forms of female nudity to levy a $10 charge that would go to domestic violence and other state programs.

■ Senate Bill 413, introduced by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, would allow only people 21 and older to work at adult entertainment businesses.

Contact reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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