Up until now, it’s all been talk.
That changes this week, as the Nevada Legislature faces the first of its self-imposed deadlines to pass legislation or see it die for the rest of the 2013 session.
(That’s “die” as in “The Walking Dead,” since bills that don’t make Friday’s deadline to pass out of their first committee can still rise, zombie-like, by virtue of amendment later in the session.)
But scores of bills won’t ever see the light of day after Friday. And there are at least a few that deserve to pass. Here’s a handy list:
• Senate Bill 63: Democrats aren’t at all excited about Secretary of State Ross Miller’s photo-voter ID proposal, which would use DMV photographs to verify a voter’s identity at the polling place. But it’s virtually the only voter identification plan that doesn’t disenfranchise anybody. Democrats question why it’s needed, since voting-in-the-name-of-another fraud is virtually non-existent in the United States. But as Miller says, one doesn’t wait until one’s house is burglarized before deciding to lock the doors.
• Assembly Bill 234: Assembly Majority Leader William Horne’s bill will not prevent criminals from getting guns, but it will make the transaction slightly harder. The measure requires private gun sellers to request a background check before selling a firearm to another private person, and it grants civil immunity to the seller if the buyer later commits mayhem with the weapon.
The bill also imposes a $25-per-gun tax on firearms sales, and a 2-cent-per-bullet tax on ammunition, with half the funds directed toward Nevada’s badly underfunded mental health system.
• Senate Bill 229: This bill would repeal an ill-considered piece of legislation from the 2011 session, a bill backed by now-former state Sen. John Lee that would force Nevada to withdraw from the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact, unless California met Nevada’s demands to amend it. The 2011 law drew protests from environmentalists and the president pro tem of the California Senate, and its passage helped lead to Lee’s defeat in a Democratic primary last year.
• Assembly Bill 407: This bipartisan reform bill is aimed directly at the case of Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, who was seated by the Assembly in spite of a Clark County District Court judge’s election-eve ruling that he didn’t actually live in Assembly District 9. (In a further irony, Martin in February was assigned to the temporary credentials committee charged with investigating the qualifications of new members!) Under this bill — co-sponsored by Democratic Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Republican Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey — a person’s residence for purposes of running for office would be that place where a person has been “actually, physically and corporeally within the state.” Obviously, this bill is needed.
• Assembly Bill 496: This bill would require all of us in Clark County to pay more in sales tax — 1/8 of a cent immediately, and another 1/8 of a cent in 2015 — in order to hire more police officers. This is part of a half-cent increase in the sales tax that voters OK’d back in 2004 in an advisory question, the implementation of which was delayed because of the recession. There’s no question this would put Clark County’s sales tax rate among the nation’s highest — after the final boost, we’ll be paying 8.35 percent. That’s a lot. But we also need public safety, and this is a way to pay for it.
As a bonus, tourists as well as residents would share the burden.
• Senate Bill 374: Voters in 1998 and 2000 authorized medical marijuana, and ordered the state to provide a system to get the drug to patients. The state never did. This bill would rectify that 13 years of neglect. Enough said.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at (702) 387-5276 or at email@example.com.