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Update: a look at bills rejected by Gov. Joe Lombardo

Updated June 21, 2023 - 4:25 pm

Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed 75 bills during the 2023 legislative session, beating a new record of the most bills vetoed by a governor in a single legislative session.

The Nevada governor who had the most vetoes in a single session is former Gov. Jim Gibbons with 48 vetoes in the 2009 session. The governor with the most overall vetoes is Gov. Brian Sandoval with 97 vetoes, spanning four sessions, according to the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s Research Division.

Overall, Lombardo signed 536 of the 611 bills brought to his desk.

This is the list of Lombardo’s most prominent vetoes:

SB 419: would have expanded health care coverage for prenatal, labor and delivery care for people not eligible for Medicaid because of their immigration status.

Lombardo said there are insufficient resources to implement this new service, and that at least six other bills from the legislative session expanded Medicaid services without needing an appropriation to cover administrative costs.

Sen. Fabian Doñate, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored the bill, known as the Nevada HOPE Act, said in a statement that although it fell short at the governor’s office, the bill was a historic bipartisan campaign that put working immigrant families at the forefront.

“For years, families like my own have been denied access to health services simply due to their immigration and citizenship status, and today, we are farther along in solving that injustice than ever before,” he wrote.

SB 335: would have halted evictions for up to 60 days for renters with a pending application for rental assistance.

In his veto message, Lombardo said the bill would create “onerous burdens in Nevada’s residential renting market by requiring even more hurdles for a landlord to evict a non-compliant tenant.”

The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada expressed concerns that the veto, as well as other rent-related vetoes, will lead to more people living on the streets.

“As a result, thousands of Nevadans, who could have maintained housing had SB 335 been signed into law, will be evicted and make up the growing ranks of the newly homeless,” the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit law firm that provides assistance to those who cannot afford an attorney, said in a statement.

AB 319: would have provided funds for free breakfast and lunch for K-12 students.

Lombardo said studies show that up to 73 percent of food provided through school lunch programs ends up in the trash, and that about 201,000 out of 490,000 Nevada students are eligible to enroll in the free or reduced lunch program through the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s National School Lunch Program.

“Universal free lunch programs were subsidized while responding to the impacts of COVID-19, and were always paid through federal funding sources,” Lombardo wrote. “These funding sources are no longer available, and district officials should build programs appropriate to their needs.”

SB 60: would have required inaugural committees to report donations of $1,000 or more.

“Increasing fairness and transparency in government and elections is an important goal,” Lombardo wrote in his veto message. “That said, if transparency is truly a priority for the Legislature, it should pass legislation requiring disclosure of activities beyond a single office.”

Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Mallory Payne criticized Lombardo, who came under fire for registering his inaugural committee as a political nonprofit.

“Joe Lombardo just confirmed what we already know — he has no intention of living up to his campaign promise of being transparent with Nevadans,” Payne said in a statement.

AB 218: would have given tenants more power to sue and recover damages for violations made by their landlords, who also would have been required to disclose all fees and costs in rental agreements.

Lombardo said the bill would increase the difficulties associated with renting residential properties and would create an incentive for tenants to pursue legal action against a landlord.

AB 242: would have required all votes to be counted by machine, as opposed to hand counting.

Lombardo said that while it is well intended in trying to provide uniformity to the election systems, the bill’s banning of hand counting ballots is an “impermissible transgression upon the right and indeed, duty, of duly elected county officials to ensure their vote-counting procedures are best-aligned with the needs of their electorate.”

AB 246: would have required election materials to be printed in languages other than English.

Lombardo said Nevada’s current laws already accomplish the goal of ensuring language accessibility, and they grant county and city clerks the authority to provide voting materials in languages above the federal requirement.

“We are extremely disappointed that Gov. Lombardo vetoed AB 246,” wrote Mary Janet Ramos, campaign manager for All Voting is Local Action Nevada, in a statement. “This law would have been a huge step forward for the diverse communities in Nevada, especially those communities with large numbers of voters whose primary language isn’t English.”

SB 384: would have established different requirements for state agencies that award federal grants for the development of broadband services.

Lombardo said it would have dramatically increased the cost of broadband projects.

SB 443: would have required people to provide any current or valid photo ID as proof of identity when registering to vote in person on Election Day or during early voting. It also would have required the DMV to have extended hours of operation in certain counties around election time.

“SB 443 would allow for insufficient proofs of residency to be used by potential electors in order to vote,” Lombardo wrote. “Since this bill places the sanctity and security of our elections in jeopardy, I cannot support it.”

SB 76: would have prohibited a manufacturer from selling products that intentionally contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), “forever chemicals” that may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.

Lombardo said that while protecting consumers from the potential dangers of PFAs is important, the bill “aims to accomplish too much too soon.” He said it is prudent to wait for federal guidance on the matter before placing more regulatory burdens on businesses in Nevada.

SB 104: would have built upon a new law in the last session that established civil penalties for minor traffic violations by removing the authority of a court to suspend a person’s driver’s license or applying for a driver’s license as a result of a delinquent fine.

Lombardo said the bill would encroach on judicial discretion and restrict courts’ resource management capabilities.

SB 275: would have applied rent control provisions to manufactured homes.

“This would likely lead to housing shortages, reduced property maintenance, and potentially reduced property tax revenue for local governments,” Lombardo wrote.

Richard Wheelock, president of Chapter 27 Nevada Association of Manufactured Homeowners, said in an email to the Review-Journal that it is hard for seniors with fixed incomes to stay afloat, and that some mobile home parks had increases of up to 30 percent since the pandemic.

“Thirty percent there, 15 percent utilities, add food and insurance and our seniors are slowly sliding into homelessness,” he said.

AB 383: would have established the Right to Reproductive Health Care Act that would have codified the right to contraception in state law. It also would have prohibited a governmental entity from burdening activity related to reproductive health services.

Lombardo said the bill would, for example, prohibit a school district from creating a policy that restricts a school nurse from providing abortion counseling and referral services.

“This bill would effectively place any control over decisions related to reproductive care, financing, and education in the hands of today’s state policy-makers instead of tomorrow’s local officials,” Lombardo wrote.

NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada criticized Lombardo for vetoing the bill.

“Gov. Lombardo showed his cards when he vetoed this commonsense bill that was voted out of the legislature with bipartisan support,” wrote NARAL Pro-Choice America Southwest Regional Director Caroline Mello Roberson in a statement. “It’s clear that we cannot trust him to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of Nevadans.”

SB 239: would have allowed for physician-assisted suicide in the state of Nevada for patients older than 18 who have been diagnosed with a terminal condition by at least two doctors.

Lombardo said the bill is “unnecessary” due to expansions and improvements in palliative care services and pain management.

“There are Nevadans right now that are suffering,” Elliot Malin, a lobbyist who pushed for the bill, told the Review-Journal. “This is not a choice between life and death. … Having the opportunity to have this choice on how their life will end after a very gruesome and cruel illness stripped from them is very disappointing.”

AB 250: would have capped certain drug prices at the rate that was negotiated under the Inflation Reduction Act through Medicare. It would have prohibited a company or person from paying for certain drugs at a cost higher than the maximum fair price.

Lombardo said the bill would set arbitrary price caps in Nevada that are based on federal decisions, “with no review or consideration from state stakeholders.”

The Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Mallory Payne criticized Lombardo for vetoing the bill, saying that he is “siding with pharmaceutical companies over Nevadans.”

SB 429: would have required certain new and expanding businesses to provide paid family and medical leave to employees in order to qualify for a partial abatement of certain taxes in Nevada.

Lombardo said that the bill inequitably applies to a group of businesses that are pursuing Nevada tax abatements that have more than 50 employees. He said the bill does not detail how the requirements would be regulated and does not give details on how it would apply to businesses that merge, are acquired by another company or go bankrupt. Lombardo also argued that the bill would reduce Nevada’s competitiveness with other states in attracting talented job candidates.

SB 302: Would have prohibited a health care licensing board from taking action against or disqualifying a health care provider for providing gender-affirming health care services to people. It would have also prohibited the governor from issuing an arrest warrant for a person who was charged in another state where it’s illegal to provide gender-affirming health care services.

Lombardo said the bill inhibits the executive branch’s ability “to be certain that all gender-affirming care related to minors” aligns with state law. He also said it erodes his branch’s ability to ensure child safety standards for Nevadans.

AB 223: Would have required a collection agency to provide payoff letters upon request to a person who was in debt.

Lombardo called the bill “problematic” because it creates a private right to legal action, although there is already an established complaint processes in place. “While debtor protection is an important goal, the policy changes contemplated in this bill should instead be deliberated and executed upon through the Department of Business and Industry’s regulatory processes,” he wrote.

AB 235: Would have required the payment of prevailing wages to workers who perform custom fabrication on public works projects.

In his veto message, Lombardo said the bill expands the state’s prevailing wage definition in a way that will increase costs on prefabrication projects and would make it “more difficult to build and efficiently manage certain critical infrastructure projects” in the state.

“Every single trades worker in Nevada should be entitled to a prevailing wage,” said AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Susie Martinez. “Governor Lombardo’s veto of Assembly Bill 235 is disheartening, especially as he advocates for the implementation of large-scale and financially taxing construction projects across our state.”

AB 265: Would have established a statewide mental health consortium to promote children’s mental health.

Lombardo said that while children’s mental health is a priority, the bill included an unfunded mandate on the executive branch.

“Since AB 265 does little to address the primary issue plaguing our mental health crisis — that we do not have enough beds to adequately serve those struggling with mental health issues — I cannot support it,” Lombardo wrote.

AB 282: Would have required school districts to provide a monthly subsidy of at least $450 to full-time substitute teachers to buy health insurance.

Lombardo said there are many technical issues with the bill and that the definition of “full-time substitute teacher” is broad and does not address the number of hours a substitute must teach to be considered full-time. He also said the bill does not address or require the same benefit for substitute teachers at charter schools, “creating a disparity between such teachers based on where they teach.”

“This bill would have provided our substitute public school teachers who work full time with a subsidy to purchase health insurance, a basic benefit that would have provided over a thousand educators statewide with an acknowledgment that despite being shockingly underpaid, our state cares about their health,” said ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Athar Haseebullah in a statement.

AB 298: Would have authorized rent control for seniors and those with disabilities.

Lombardo said the measure presents “an unreasonable restraint on standard business activity.”

“I am saddened and disappointed that the governor rejected this legislation protecting the most vulnerable Nevadans,” said Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, D-Las Vegas, the bill’s sponsor, in a statement. “As Nevada continues to grow, we must also prioritize the needs and safety of our most vulnerable populations, such as seniors and people with disabilities.”

AB 354: Would have prohibited a person from having a firearm within 100 feet of an election site.

Lombardo said the scope of the measure is too broad and that there is no notable history of gun violence at election sites.

AB 355: Would have made it a gross misdemeanor for a person younger than 21 years old to have a semiautomatic shotgun or semiautomatic rifle.

Lombardo said the bill wouldn’t pass “constitutional muster” after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California’s ban of the sale of semiautomatic rifles to people under 21 in the case Jones v. Bonta.

AB 456: Would have limited the length of freight trains to no more than 7,500 feet.

Lombardo said the bill is a “policy overreach” and unlikely to withstand litigation.

“The longer we go without reforming our state’s railroad regulations, the closer we get to experiencing a tragedy like the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio,” Martinez said. “With this legislation, Nevada could have been a leader in railroad safety; now, we run the risk of becoming a national headline in the future.”

AB 520: A budget bill that would appropriate more than $7 billion from the general fund to pay for state government operations.

Lombardo said the budget bill uses one-time money for ongoing expenses, fails to save enough money and allocated too much to the Legislature.

“This budget supports the very fabric that makes our communities strong,” said Eric Jeng, acting executive director of ONE APIA in a news conference. “These programs are mission-critical for our community. We are disappointed but hopeful for negotiations that put our communities and our families first.”

SB 133: Would have criminalized creating or participating in a scheme to create fake slates of presidential electors.

Lombardo said the penalty would be disproportionately harsher than that for other crimes, like high-level fentanyl traffickers and domestic violence perpetrators. He also said the bill does nothing to ensure the “security of our elections.”

“For years, Lombardo hasn’t hesitated to stand with the most extreme members of his party who have spread conspiracy theories that led to a deadly insurrection,” said spokesperson Mallory Payne. “There’s no question public safety and law enforcement are the furthest thing from Lombardo’s priorities.”

SB 169: Would have required that the master plan in Clark and Washoe counties includes a heat mitigation element, such as cooling spaces, public drinking water and urban tree canopies.

Lombardo said the bill creates more red-tape for projects. He also said, “there is no data definitely supporting the proposition that development is causing rising temperatures in either Washoe County or Clark County.”

SB 171: Would have prohibited a person from purchasing, owning or having a gun if the person had been convicted of offenses that constitute a hate crime within the last 10 years.

Lombardo said the bill would deprive people of their Second Amendment rights.

“At a time when hate crimes are on the rise and communities are increasingly targeted because of race, ethnicity, religion, and other immutable parts of their identities, we should be doing more to protect our citizens,” said Sen. Dallas Harris, D-Las Vegas, the author of the bill.

SB 299: Would have removed certain exemptions from prevailing wage requirements for railroad and monorail companies.

Lombardo said the bill is unnecessary because railroads are already required to pay prevailing wages by the Federal Railroad Administration, and it would increase construction-related costs and burdens for companies seeking to develop infrastructure in Nevada.

SB 340: Would have required school districts to submit a plan to provide summer school to students in all grades during 2023 and 2024.

Lombardo said that the bill only requires summer school but does not provide any mechanism to ensure that school districts have the means to pay for it, known as an “unfunded mandate.”

SB 404: Would have revised the procedure for poll watchers to challenge a voter’s proof of residency and would have allowed ballots to be counted beginning on the first day of early voting, rather than starting on Election Day.

Lombardo said it is a “bad bill” that weakens residency requirements, restricts a voter’s ability to challenge another voter’s eligibility and promotes a lack of transparency.

“We need to make it easier to vote while also making it harder to cheat,” he said.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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