Nevada lawmakers introduced 1,143 bills and resolutions during the 2017 legislative session. Many of them died, victims of deadlines or neglect in the final days.
A few of those bills would have made Nevada a better place, in ways large and small.
Here’s a short list.
• Senate Bill 170: This reform bill by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, sought to strengthen Nevada’s public records law, setting deadlines by which records must be released and waiving fees for providing information in electronic form. The bill also limited fees for physical copies of records to 50 cents per page for commercial requests, and 10 cents for non-commercial ones.
Governments — including Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Clark County, the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Metro Police and the Clark County School District — opposed the bill. And, really, who ever heard of the school district or North Las Vegas having something to hide?
Lawmakers must curtail the anti-transparency phenomenon of governments charging people hundreds or even thousands of dollars simply to gather public records. Segerblom should request this measure be introduced again in 2019.
• Assembly Bill 201/Assembly Bill 404: These similar bills, by Assemblyman Chris Edwards, R-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Brittney Miller, D-Las Vegas, respectively, would have created an office of inspector general in Nevada. The IG would have conducted audits, inspections, investigations and reviews of state agencies, trying to root out waste, fraud and abuse.
Currently, the state’s Division of Internal Audits and the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s audit division reviews state agencies. But an inspector general’s office — similar to offices within most federal government agencies — would have been an even stronger check against wrongdoing.
Edwards’s bill never got a vote, while Miller’s passed the Government Affairs Committee and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee, where it died.
• Senate Bill 17: There were several payday loan reform bills introduced in the 2017 session, most of which contained good ideas. State Treasurer Dan Schwartz’s approach in SB 17 sought to prohibit lenders from making more than one loan at a time to the same person, impose a cooling-off period between loans and establish a statewide database of loans to ensure compliance that would be paid for by the industry.
Schwartz’s bill never got out of the Senate’s Commerce and Labor Committee. Another bill — an emergency measure requested by Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, D-Las Vegas — would have simply created the loan database. That measure made it all the way through the Assembly before also dying in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
A separate bill, by Edgar Flores, D-Las Vegas, requires payday lenders to ensure that borrowers have the ability to repay. The governor signed the measure.
Payday loan abuses need to be addressed, and Schwartz’s approach was an eminently reasonable one.
• Assembly Bill 240: This bill — sponsored primarily by Assembly and Senate Republicans also counted state Sens. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, and Patty Farley, NP-Las Vegas, among its supporters — would have made it easier to offer car service in Nevada. It stripped from state law language that demands regulators “foster sound economic conditions” and “discourage any practices which would tend to increase or create competition that may be detrimental to the traveling or shipping public or the motor carrier business within this state.”
Obviously, competition benefits the traveling public, as major taxicab companies have learned trying to compete with Uber and Lyft. (Those companies were targeted with an abortive amendment that imposed additional regulations on their drivers.)
The law is long overdue for an update that puts the risks of starting new transportation businesses on owners, rather than allowing existing companies to keep would-be competitors at bay. AB 240 — which never made it out of the Assembly Transportation Committee — is a fine idea that deserves to come back in two years.
Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5276. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.