EDUCATION: After months of haggling, legislators approved a budget that includes $15 million to add full-day kindergarten at 63 schools, and $10 million to create 29 empowerment schools. Full-day kindergarten is now offered in 114 schools. Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley had wanted them in all 340 elementary schools in the state. Gov. Jim Gibbons had wanted $60 million to establish 100 empowerment schools, where principals and teachers have a greater say in how the school is run. Compromises on those programs helped the session adjourn on time.
ROADS: Legislators ended a long and fiery debate by agreeing to redirect three existing taxes, including some property and room taxes, to a highway construction fund. With the revenue, the state can start work on $1 billion in road construction projects, far short of the $5 billion state officials say are needed over the next decade. But Gibbons insisted on no new taxes and legislators ultimately complied with his request.
"GREEN" CONSTRUCTION: A revised Assembly Bill 621 that reduces tax breaks for companies that build with energy efficient materials was approved by both houses of the Legislature. The bill is an attempt to revise a 2005 law that would have given companies more than $900 million in property tax and sales tax breaks over the next decade. The bill cuts the breaks to about $450 million.
PRISONS: Both houses supported Assembly Bill 510, which will increase the amount of "good time" credits inmates can accumulate and lead to more than 1,200 inmates being released early in the next two years. Because of prison overcrowding, the Legislature approved a $285 million prison construction budget. The number of inmates in the state, now numbering more than 13,000, is expected to top 21,000 in 10 years.
CHILD DEATHS: Gibbons signed Assembly Bill 261, which requires child welfare agencies to release more information about children who have died or nearly died of abuse or neglect. This arose from reports in Clark County. In a companion bill, the Division of Family Services will oversee reviews into the death of children while in foster care or state or private custody.
VIDEO VOYEURISM: Gibbons signed Senate Bill 10, Sen. Barbara Cegavske’s bill to create a crime of video voyeurism. The offense occurs when someone takes images of the "private parts" of others without their knowledge and then publishes them or posts them on the Internet. The crime occurs when the images are taken in places where the person photographed has an expectation of privacy.
CERVICAL CANCER VACCINE: Both houses supported a bill that will require some insurance providers to make a cervical cancer vaccine available to young women. All three doctors in the Legislature opposed the bill, partly because the vaccine is new and has not been tested for a long time. The bill also requires insurance companies to provide prostate cancer testing for men.
DOGS AND CATS LOCKED IN CARS: Both houses approved Sen. Randolph Townsend’s Senate Bill 329, which allows police, firefighters and other authorities to break into locked cars to free dogs and cats suffering from extreme heat or cold conditions.
GIFT CARDS: Gibbons signed into law Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen’s Assembly Bill 279, which requires 60 percent of the value of unused gift cards to be forwarded to state government for support of public schools. Currently, the cards’ value reverts to the state in which the company that issued the cards is incorporated.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG CARD: Gibbons signed Assemblyman Joe Hardy’s Assembly Bill 6, which allows county governments to participate in a National Association of Counties prescription drug card program. For free, all residents can acquire the cards and secure about a 20 percent discount on drug prices.
OPEN MEETINGS: Gibbons signed Buckley’s Assembly Bill 433, which requires the state Tax Commission to conduct all of its business in public, except when it hears "proprietary or confidential" information from taxpayers appealing a tax bill. The bill arose out of the commission’s decision during a closed-door meeting in 2005 to give Southern California Edison a $40 million tax refund.
PUBLIC RECORDS: Both houses agreed to an amended version of Sen. Terry Care’s Senate Bill 123, which requires governments to make public records available for review or copying by citizens within five business days after they make requests.
PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: Gibbons signed Sen. Valerie Wiener’s Senate Bill 7, which makes adults, including parents, civilly liable for damages if they knowingly allow underage children to drink alcoholic beverages and they subsequently are involved in accidents.
"TRUTH" IN MUSIC: Gibbons signed Senate Bill 57, sought by ’50s music performers who claim bogus performers are using the names of famous oldies groups. The law requires that groups have a legal right to the name or at least one of the members is a performer from the original group.
TEEN SMOKING: The Assembly Judiciary Committee did not act on Sen. Mike McGinness’ Senate Bill 14, which would have levied a $25 fine on teenagers under 18 who are caught smoking. Nevada has a law preventing teens from buying cigarettes, but no law to stop them from actually smoking.
"PRIMARY" SEAT BELT LAW: Assembly Transportation Chairman Kelvin Atkinson refused to take a vote on Senate-passed Senate Bill 42, which would have allowed police to pull over and cite motorists for not wearing a seat belt. Police cannot pull over motorists for failing to wear seat belts unless they first stop them for another driving offense.
TAX AND SPENDING CONTROL IN NEVADA (TASC): For the second consecutive session, the Senate Finance Committee killed Sen. Bob Beers’ Senate Joint Resolution 3, a proposed constitutional amendment to limit state spending to the combined rate of inflation and population growth.
STATE LOTTERY: The Senate Judiciary Committee let a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize a state lottery die without a vote. This marked the 25th time since 1975 that a lottery legalization plan has been rejected. Supporters said the bill would raise $50 million a year to buy school books. The Assembly backed the lottery proposal 29-13.
TIP SHARING: The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee refused to hear Assemblyman Bob Beers’ Assembly-approved Assembly Bill 248, which would have prohibited casinos from forcing dealers to share tips with their supervisors. Beers, R-Henderson, introduced the bill in response to a tip sharing policy at Wynn Las Vegas.
HELMETS FOR MOTORCYCLISTS: Once again, a bill to repeal the law requiring motorcyclists to wear safety helmets died in the Senate Transportation Committee. Sen. Bob Beers’ Senate Bill 49 was allowed to die without a vote. Attempts to repeal the helmet law, which was passed in 1971, have failed in virtually every legislative session.
HELMETS FOR BICYCLISTS: Sen. Valerie Wiener’s Senate Bill 207 to require children under age 18 to wear helmets on bicycles was allowed to die by the Senate Transportation Committee.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: The Senate Judiciary Committee pulled out of Assembly Bill 383 a controversial provision allowing the state to yank the licenses of companies that hire illegal immigrants. The bill passed with a clause allowing the Tax Commission to levy an undetermined fine on companies that hire illegals, but only after the U.S Attorney General’s office has made a final determination that the company hired illegal immigrants.
TEACHERS ARMED WITH GUNS: The Senate Human Resources Committee voted to kill Sen. Bob Beers’ Senate Bill 286, which would have allowed teachers with appropriate training to carry guns on campus.
CUTTING CAR REGISTRATION FEES: Sen. Bob Beers’ Senate Bill 96 to cut in half the money people pay in annual car registration was allowed to die without a vote in the Senate Taxation Committee.
PRESCRIPTIONS FOR SUDAFED: The Assembly Health and Human Service Committee amended out a provision in Assemblyman Bernie Anderson’s Assembly Bill 150 which would have required people to secure doctors’ prescriptions before buying Sudafed and other cold remedies and decongestants containing pseudoephedrine. The ingredient is used in making methamphetamine
PUBLIC COURT RECORDS: The Senate Judiciary Committee killed Assemblyman Bernie Anderson’s Assembly Bill 519, which would block judges from sealing court decisions and civil court actions at their discretion. The bill was prompted by Review-Journal stories that 115 court cases were sealed by Clark County judges between 2000 and 2006. Opponents felt no action should be taken until a Supreme Court committee finishes a review and makes recommendations.
TEACHER RIGHTS: Assemblyman Tick Segerblom withdrew his Assembly Bill 459 when it became apparent the Senate Human Resources Committee would kill the bill. The proposal set up requirements that Clark County School District officials must follow before they can dismiss teachers. Segerblom said too many teachers are being fired without justification, exacerbating the teacher shortage. The Assembly backed the bill 42-0.
DOCTORS’ "I’M SORRY" BILL: The Assembly Judiciary Committee refused to act on Sen. Joe Heck’s Senate-backed Senate Bill 174, which would have allowed physicians to express sorrow or apologize to patients and their families when something goes wrong with treatment. Under the bill, expressions of sorrow could not subsequently be used against doctors in lawsuits.
STATE EMPLOYEE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: The Senate Government Affairs Committee did not act on Assembly-approved Assembly Bill 601, which would allow state employees to form bargaining units and seek better benefits.
ENGLISH — OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: The Assembly Government Affairs Committee did not act on Sen. Bob Beers’ Senate-approved Senate Bill 325, which would have made English the official language of Nevada. All official records and proceedings of the state would have to be in English. Non-English speakers would be encouraged to master English.2007 Nevada Legislature