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New Nevada laws cover everything from rain barrels to education

CARSON CITY — At the stroke of midnight Friday, marijuana was added to the list of vices legally available in Nevada. But that is far from the only change in state law to take effect Saturday.

More than 300 bills passed by the 2017 Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval take effect Saturday. The number represents the bulk of new laws passed. Others took effect immediately or will in the coming months.

The most hyped new law is the one allowing adults 21 and older to legally buy up to an ounce of marijuana at permitted dispensaries. Nevada joins Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska as states that allow regulated sales of recreational pot.

No less important, state workers will be cheering bigger paychecks, thanks to an additional 1 percent bump in pay approved in the session’s waning minutes. The increase is on top of the 2 percent raises Sandoval included in his general fund budget, bringing the total pay boost for most state workers to 3 percent in each of the next two years.

Besides budget items, laws pertaining to education, criminal justice, veterans, drivers, elections, tax credits — and even rain — also take effect Saturday. Here is a look at some of the legislation.

Education

School district applicants will be vetted more thoroughly under laws intended to prevent people formerly or currently under investigation for misconduct allegations elsewhere from being hired. The need for the measures was highlighted in a Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation into a sexual misconduct crisis within the Clark County School District.

Students will be taught economics and financial literacy, and programs will allow for competency-based education and high school diplomas for students with disabilities.

All public and private middle school, junior high and high school students will be instructed on how to administer CPR and use an external defibrillator. Students will also be taught about organ donation.

Students from low-income households will have more access to scholarships to attend private school under a law that expands Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Businesses that donate money for the program receive a break on payroll tax obligations.

Criminal justice

The Nevada Division of Parole and Probation can set up independent reporting facilities for offenders on parole or probation. The centers will provide counseling, health care and employment assistance.

People who request a name change and have a criminal record are required to submit a full set of fingerprints with their petition. Also, anyone cited for misdemeanor domestic battery is required to submit a full set of fingerprints to the state repository.

Blood tests have replaced urine tests to determine whether a driver is impaired by marijuana.

Suicide prevention

Doctors and other health care professionals must take regular continuing education training on suicide prevention and awareness. Experts testified during legislative hearings that many people, particularly seniors, who attempted or committed suicide saw their primary care providers days or hours beforehand.

Elections

Third-party groups who send out information to voters about the status of their voter registrations must state clearly on mailers that the notices do not come from state or local election officials. Also, a new law changes campaign finance reporting deadlines for candidates and elected office holders to quarterly during election years and annually in nonelection years. Those reports now must also include how much a cash a candidate has on hand, as well as a breakout of expenses paid by credit or debit cards.

Rules of the road

Nevada drivers will have to give a wide berth to Department of Transportation vehicles under a law that extends to NDOT crews the same safety precautions extended to law enforcement. Drivers will have to move over if possible to give NDOT vehicles with flashing lights extra room on the roadway.

Slowpoke drivers in the fast lane may be ticketed under another new law intended to keep traffic flowing.

And driver licenses no longer have to be in color. Department of Motor Vehicles officials say new security features are available to provide better quality photos that are not in color.

Veterans

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender veterans and service members will receive assistance from the Department of Veterans Services to upgrade the narrative of their discharge. The law prohibits denial of eligibility based solely on their sexual orientation for any program or benefit to which they may be otherwise entitled.

Another law requires the Board of Regents to develop statewide standards for awarding college credits for military education, training or occupational experience.

Rain

Many people have done it for years, but now it is legal to collect precipitation off of single-family rooftop homes. Rain barrels are allowed to capture rain for nonpotable domestic use. The law also officially authorizes remote guzzlers for wildlife that have a capacity of 20,000 gallons or less, a capture area of no more than an acre, and a piping system no longer than one-quarter mile.

Pets in peril

Another law enhances protections for animals left unattended in vehicles in times of extreme heat or cold. It allows law enforcement, animal control and other public safety workers to use reasonable means to remove a pet from a vehicle without fear of civil liability.

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