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Nevada Assembly committee tweaks Equal Rights Amendment, moves it step closer to passing

Updated March 14, 2017 - 4:16 pm

CARSON CITY — An Assembly committee on Tuesday amended and passed a resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, bringing the decades old issue one step closer to reality in Nevada.

Senate Joint Resolution 2 was amended to make minor technical adjustments regarding transmittal of the measure to the Secretary of State and to the archivist of the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC.

The vote in the 11-member Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections was seven Democrats in favor and four Republicans opposed.

A final vote on the resolution is expected next week. Approval is expected.

Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, D-Las Vegas, said he does not believe the impact of the amendment will be that significant if it becomes a part of the constitution because equality protections already exist.

“It is not going to be a huge issue going forward,” he said.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, said Nevada will become a laughingstock if the Legislature passes the amendment, which had a deadline come and go 35 years ago. The protections being sought already exist in law, he said.

It will mean a massive transfer of power to the federal government if it becomes part of the constitution, Hansen said.

Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, called the moment historic and said Nevada will be seen as a leader in the equal rights movement.

Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment have disputed arguments that the time for the ratification of the amendment to the U.S. Constitutional is past, saying equality for women is long overdue.

Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, who sponsored SJR2, said that passage of the amendment 35 years after a congressional deadline will make a powerful statement that Nevada is ready to move from the 19th century to the 21st century.

Opponents say the amendment is nothing more than symbolic because laws enacted over the past 35 years protect gender equality. They also argue the amendment does not account for biological differences between men and women.

SANDOVAL SUPPORTS

While Gov. Brian Sandoval does not have to sign off on the resolution should it pass the Legislature, he said Tuesday that he does support the proposal.

The measure passed the Senate on a 13-8 vote, Republican Heidi Gansert joining all Democrats and Independent Patricia Farley in voting yes.

Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972. A seven-year time limit for ratification by states was later extended until 1982.

The measure was ratified by 35 states — three short of those needed to amend the Constitution.

Nevada would be the 36th state to ratify the amendment. Supporters hope at least two other states will follow.

Supporters say Congress has the authority to determine if the amendment is valid even though a deadline passes.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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