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Sandoval vetoes raw milk bill

CARSON CITY — Sorry health food fans, Gov. Brian Sandoval is old school and has vetoed a bill that would have allowed the sale of raw milk throughout Nevada.

Sandoval on Thursday night vetoed Assembly Bill 209, citing federal studies and state Health Officer Tracey Green’s concern that raw milk is 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness than pasteurized milk.

Chalk one up for French chemist Louis Pasteur and his 1862 studies of how heating liquids to just below boiling can kill contaminants.

“The Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association and our own health officer agree that Assembly Bill 209 presents significant public health risks,” Sandoval stated in his veto message.

During hearings, many raw milk advocates testified that they are made to feel like criminals because they must acquire raw milk surreptitiously in Nevada or go to California. One man testified that he drinks 10 to 15 gallons of raw, or unpasteurized, milk a week and no longer has any health problems. Others spoke of its nutritional benefits.

Besides the veto, his eighth from bills passed at the 2013 legislative session, Sandoval also signed 12 bills, including one to extend the life of the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency by 15 years and another that sets up procedures for state agencies to follow when people request to examine public records.

The governor signed Assembly Bill 50 that extends the life of Las Vegas’ downtown redevelopment agency until 2046. Otherwise it would have expired in 2031. Backers said the extension would improve the ability of the city to refinance long-term debt at a lower rate.

Sandoval also approved Assembly Bill 31 that requires each state agency to name a “records official” to handle public requests to review its records. The attorney general and state library also will develop a public records request form that agencies must post on their websites. The law goes into effect Oct. 1.

The new law also lists nearly 200 exemptions to public records found in state law. These exceptions can be used by records officials to deny access to their records.

Nevada Press Association Director Barry Smith said the law is good because it brings standard procedures for people seeking records. He said he frequently receives calls from people who do not know whom to contact when they want to examine records.

During the hearings on the raw milk bill, advocates testified that if the Legislature approved the bill, then they wouldn’t have to go to California or to underground dairies to buy raw milk, and tax dollars would stay in Nevada. A farmer spoke of his interest in establishing a small dairy farm in Nye County to produce raw milk, and Assemblyman James Oscarson, R-Pahrump, testified for the bill, saying he tried some and “loved it.”

“I believe the production of raw milk was an economic opportunity for the state and Nye County to provide a product to the citizens of Nevada that would have had significant oversight by both state and local regulatory bodies,” Oscarson said on Friday. “I respect the governor’s authority to veto legislation and will work together with his office to review their concerns and bring this legislation again during the next session.”

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