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Nevada Legislature special session won’t start until Friday, at earliest

Updated July 29, 2020 - 8:14 pm

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s second special legislative session won’t start until Friday or possibly into the weekend, according to the spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Sisolak said this week that the session could start as early as Thursday. But Sisolak’s spokeswoman, Meghin Delaney, said that will have to wait at least one more day.

“The second special legislative session will not begin tomorrow. Once the governor feels confident the session is ready to begin, he will issue a proclamation,” Delaney said in a statement Wednesday.

Part of the reason for that delay? According to one former lawmaker and another source familiar with the discussions, Sisolak, a Democrat, is pushing for legislation that would grant liability protections for businesses in Nevada, an idea that legislative Democrats have bridled at over concerns that those protections could put workers at risk.

“It’s going to be delayed a day or two. And the major reason for delay is the governor wants on the agenda legal immunity for businesses to reopen,” Justin Watkins said during a segment on the local sports talk radio program “Cofield and Company” that was also streamed on Periscope.

Watkins is a former Democratic state assemblyman who was elected in 2016 but chose not to run again after one term. But Watkins still has close ties to some lawmakers, including Democratic Assemblyman Steve Yeager, the Assembly’s speaker pro tempore and a partner at Watkins’ Battle Born Injury Lawyers law firm.

Watkins could not be reached for a follow-up comment Wednesday.

Sisolak said this week that the second special legislative session of the summer would include policies aimed at “helping stabilize businesses so they don’t suffer continued economic hits,” while also addressing safety standards for workers.

Sisolak’s spokeswoman declined to comment when asked about liability protections.

Proponents of those protections for businesses, which include the Nevada Resorts Association and Vegas Chamber, have said they are needed because businesses being held liable for employees or customers contracting COVID-19 would further cripple the economy.

Watkins also voiced some the same concerns raised by many labor unions and progressive groups about potential legal immunity for businesses.

“You take away all the rights of the employees. You take away all the rights of the customers. And it’s incredibly bad policy at any time. But it’s especially bad policy in times of emergency,” Watkins said on the show.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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