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EDITORIAL: How many more laws do we really need?

These days, no issue is too insignificant to avoid political scrutiny. Just peruse the bill draft requests for the 2023 legislative session.

State lawmakers won’t reconvene for more than six months, but already they’ve requested that legislative lawyers start writing dozens of new laws. By the end of the year, expect that number to quintuple.

The details of these requests are usually murky and often include only a short, one-line description that simply touches on the subject involved. But there are few issues that can escape the “something must be done” urge.

State Sen. Fabian Donate, D-Las Vegas, has been particularly busy. The Clark County Commission appointed Sen. Donate to his position in February 2021 to replace Yvanna Cancela, who resigned to take a job in the Biden administration. Sen. Donate should have an easy re-election run in November, given the demographics of his district. But like most politicians, he’s taking no chances.

Sen. Donate has requested seven bill drafts, including three that would revise “provisions related to health care.” Others concern firearms, street food vending, licensure and boards and commissions.

State Sen. Carrie Buck, R-Henderson, has been equally prolific. She also has requested seven new bills, three of which relate to “education.” Other topics on her watch list include cosmetology, confidential information, minors and offenders.

Additional proposals would form “the Division of Supplier Diversity within the Office of Economic Development,” revise provisions “governing rent increases” (rent control?) and create a gasoline tax holiday when “the average fuel price for regular 87 octane gasoline plus state tax reaches a certain price per gallon.”

Legislative targets also include affordable housing, property taxes, charter schools, the retail sale of digital products, on-demand pay providers, digital real estate and the use of cryptocurrency, the theft of catalytic converters, adult care placement companies, battery storage, problem gambling and the Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

No doubt many of these requests are worthwhile and address a pressing problem or need. But many instead reflect overkill, the notion that lawmakers can and should bring the power of the state to bear on every grievance or perceived nuisance.

“Many Americans regard America as ‘a nation of laws,’” Shay Khatiri wrote for The Week. “But more and more, the United States is becoming a nation of too many laws.” Some legal observers point out that the U.S. Code now includes so many statutes — often complicated and even indecipherable — that the authorities could arrest virtually anyone at any time for some offense or another. The same is likely true at the state level.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: One law worth adopting would be to require state lawmakers to repeal two statutes for every new one imposed. Such a mandate would have the dual benefit of thinning the Nevada Revised Statutes of duplicative or unnecessary material while forcing the Legislature to prioritize what is truly important in their limited, biennial sessions.

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