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EDITORIAL: Bad ideas abound in Carson City

There are oodles of bad proposals still floating around Carson City, as lawmakers advance legislation through various deadlines. Some of the more destructive bills — allowing collective bargaining for state employees, gutting Read by 3 or throwing a shroud of secrecy over government pension payouts, for example — will continue to garner attention. But dozens of lower-profile measures would also be detrimental to the state and deserve to be euthanized.

■ Senate Bill 450: This incumbent protection measure is an unabashed effort to essentially eliminate the right of citizens to recall elected officials. Among other things, it limits the amount of money individual donors may contribute to a recall — First Amendment, anyone? — and demands full verification of all signatures submitted, while saddling recall organizers with the cost of verification procedures. The bill also makes it easier for recall targets to challenge the process. SB450 satisfies a partisan vendetta in response to a failed GOP attempt last year to recall three sitting Democratic state senators. But recall elections provide a necessary citizen check on malfeasance and incompetence and are already subject to myriad regulations that make it difficult for petitioners to succeed — witness that successful recall attempts are exceedingly rare in the state. SB 450 undermines democracy and is protectionist overkill.

■ Assembly Bill 421: This proposal would roll back limits lawmakers imposed in 2015 on construction defect legislation. Suffice to say, this is a bone that legislative Democrats have thrown to their benefactors in the trial bar — and it would trigger more costly litigation and higher home construction costs. The reforms were a reasonable approach to addressing the excesses of plaintiffs’ attorneys while still allowing legitimately disgruntled homeowners an avenue for redress. AB421 would reopen the lawsuit lottery when it comes to homebuilder litigation, serving as an economic anchor on one of the state’s most important employers. Kill it.

■ Senate Bill 153: This turkey is one of several obvious back-scratchers for a favored liberal donor, Big Labor. SB153 would kill a handful of reforms passed in 2015, including a provision that protected taxpayers by ensuring they weren’t responsible for compensating government workers when they were conducting union business. The bill would also restore so-called “evergreen clauses” that trigger the automatic rollover of a labor contract if the two sides reach an impasse. Evergreen clauses disrupt negotiations by removing a key incentive for union negotiators to bargain. And taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay a government worker’s salary when he’s doing business for his labor unit. SB153 deserves the needle.

■ Senate Bill 111: This bill, another sop to labor, expands the pot of money unions may target during pay negotiations with local governments. SB111 would reduce the percentage of a public entity’s ending fund balance that is shielded from collective bargaining by one-third, to 16.7 percent. These balances provide governments with a modicum of flexibility to deal with economic downturns or unforeseen financial issues, providing a cushion for taxpayers. This proposal would make it easier for unaccountable arbitrators to sanction union raids on such funds simply because they may be construed as evidence of a government’s “ability” to meet labor compensation demands. Fiscal sanity demands SB111 go the way of Old Yeller.

■ Senate Bill 321: This plan is one of many measures advanced in an effort to abet the state educational establishment’s unceasing efforts to avoid accountability. SB321 would abolish a program created only four years ago to turn a handful of struggling Clark County schools into charters under an Achievement School District. Given that this approach has barely had time to prove its worth, SB321 should be seen as part of a concerted push by legislative Democrats to placate the teachers unions by dismantling former Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature education reform package of 2015. The Achievement School District is an extremely modest effort to provide parents whose children are stuck in struggling public schools with a potential option. Perhaps it’s finally time for Mr. Sandoval to mount a defense of his legacy in this regard.

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