Plan to ease smoking ban shelved

CARSON CITY — A plan to roll back a voter-approved ban on smoking in many public places, sought by Nevada bars, restaurants and casinos but opposed by public health advocates, died Friday without an Assembly committee vote needed to keep it alive.

Assembly Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, declared Senate Bill 372 dead after no members of his panel asked that the bill be considered on Friday’s deadline for action on the measure.

SB372 was shelved along with many other measures that didn’t move ahead on the deadline for most Senate-approved bills to win approval in Assembly committees and for most Assembly-endorsed measures to win approval in Senate panels.

SB372 proposed to soften the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act approved by voters in 2006 by allowing smoking in bars that serve food as long as minors are restricted from entry. Also, businesses could wall off separately ventilated smoking rooms.

Also dead for the 2009 session is Assembly Joint Resolution 7, which proposed a public vote to determine whether Nevada, the nation’s No. 1 gambling state, should add lotteries to the many games of chance it allows.

AJR7 is the latest version of a plan that since the 1970s has failed about two dozen times to win legislative approval.

Other bills that didn’t move ahead by Friday’s deadline included Senate Bill 136, a plan to prohibit Nevada motorists, including police and emergency personnel, from text-messaging on cell phones while behind the wheel.

Also shelved was Senate Bill 206, which would have established a framework for toll road construction in Nevada. The measure, which would have mandated strict oversight over public-private partnerships that finance toll road construction, had been approved in the Senate but wasn’t advanced by the Assembly Transportation Committee to the full Assembly.

Other dead bills included:

• Assembly Bill 442, a watered-down plan to require government agencies that employ lobbyists to submit reports explaining terms of their contracts. The bill, which started out as a plan to bar such agencies from hiring paid lobbyists, had been approved in the Assembly but died in a Senate committee.

• Assembly Bill 413, which proposed to replace the electoral college system in presidential elections with a de facto national popular election. Approved in the Assembly, it died in a Senate committee.

• Senate Bill 364, to expand the authority of the state Board of Medical Examiners to investigate potential unlawful activity by medical professionals.

• Senate Bill 327, to encourage the use of electric vehicles by authorizing the state Public Utilities Commission to give incentives and portfolio energy credits to utilities that invest in power-charging networks.

• Senate Bill 349, a construction defect bill sought by Nevada’s powerful but struggling construction industry. The bill would have curtailed homeowner lawsuits against builders and subcontractors, but was targeted by critics who said it unfairly limits homebuyers’ rights.

• Assembly Bill 495, easing malpractice award caps. The bill was a response to the hepatitis C outbreak that led to the largest patient notification in U.S. history. More than 50,000 patients at two now-closed outpatient clinics were notified last year that they may have been put at risk for blood borne diseases by shoddy injection practices.

• Assembly Bill 293, to give lawmakers the power to block appointments by Nevada governors to positions in several agencies. A rejected appointee for one post couldn’t have been named to any of the other positions on the list for a year.

• Senate Bill 290, to let patients in care facilities or their families or guardians install surveillance devices in the patients’ rooms.

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