Legislative Recap: Week 11

Apr 24, 2017

Nevada Legislative Building
Credit Paul Boger

Nevada lawmakers are facing yet another deadline in the 2017 legislative session. According to the rules of both the Senate and Assembly, lawmakers are required to pass legislation out of their house of origin by Tuesday, lest the bills die.

However, lawmaker’s actions were not necessarily the top news of the week.

Illegal Voting Investigation

Republican Secretary of State Barbra Cegavske is claiming that three people -- who had not obtained citizenship – illegally voted in the 2016 general election. Nevada’s top election’s chief made the announcement Wednesday, nearly a week after she announced she was launching an investigation.

According to a press release, the secretary’s office received noticed that the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles a list of more than 100 people who “presented evidence of non-citizenship” and “completed a voter registration application.” So far, Cegavske’s investigation says 21 of those people have voted with three voting in the last election.

The statement goes on to say, “given the early stages of this investigation, it is inappropriate for us to comment further.  We anticipate we will have additional information about the investigation in the next few months.”

While Cegavske’s announcement is not necessarily legislative news, it does have some interesting connections to lawmakers. The news comes just a couple of weeks after Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a measure that would have implemented automatic voter registration when residents went to the DMV. Democratic leaders, making it one of the first bills lawmakers pushed through the 2017 session, heavily backed the “motor-voter” initiative petition. Legislative Republicans, however, voiced concerns about illegal voting as an argument to oppose the measure

Despite the veto and Cegavske’s allegations of voter fraud, IP-1 will appear on the general election ballot in 2018.  

Heller/Amodei Town Hall

Republican members of Nevada's Congressional Delegation, Senator Dean Heller and 2nd District Representative Mark Amodei, got an ear-full from voters Monday during a combative town hall event.

Roughly 600 people packed into a conference room at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center last Monday to ask the two lawmakers where they stand on issues like healthcare, immigration and the environment. 

This is the second time the two Republicans have faced a combative crowd in as many months. In February, a group of protestors crashed a Carson City Chamber of Commerce luncheon in which both Amodei and Heller were speaking.

However, this go-round, the crowd seemed to be slightly less hostile. There were several occasions Representative Amodei was able to sway the crowd, even getting them to cheer when he mentioned his opposition to the Trump/Ryan healthcare bill that failed a few weeks ago.

But for Senator Heller, the crowd was much less pliable. Widely considered the easiest target during next fall’s election, Heller has had a difficult time appealing to voters on either side of the aisle. During the town hall, Heller to heat from voters on his support of President Trump’s Cabinet and Judicial picks, possible cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and opposition to federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

And while the crowd was hostile, the Northern Nevada town hall was a fry cry calmer than many other around the country.

Bills Ambling Through the Assembly and Senate

Week 11 of the 2017 Session with hundreds of the bills on the floors of the Senate and Assembly. Lawmakers have until next Tuesday to pass the measures through their house of origin and into the other chamber.

With that said, lawmakers have been busy, pushing out dozens of pieces of legislation over the past few days.

Here’s just some of the bills we’ve seen passed so far. . .

SB20 -- It removes NV Constitution Knowledge from teacher license requirements.

SB86 – Authorizes (not mandate) public schools to teach kids how to write in cursive.

SB232 – Domestic Workers Bill of rights: mandates pay/overtime. Caps on deductions for food/shelter, days off

SB346 -- Clarifies that doctors are not violating standards if they administer drugs not approved by FDA for that purpose

SB354 -- Grants professional license holders from other states reciprocity in Nevada.

SB432 -- Allows child welfare organizations to file for a termination of parental rights for abuse or neglect.

Republican Disappointment

For many Republicans though, the session has been a bust. Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson of Las Vegas has made his displeasure known calling the Democratic-Led Legislature anti-business and anti-family.

In yet another salvo against the majority, Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R-Minden) issued a statement last Thursday accusing Democrats of focusing too much on recreational marijuana implementation.

“There are at least twenty bills in the 79th legislative session regarding marijuana, coming down the pipe – a blazing amount by any reckoning. I only wish that we spent as much time focusing on creating high quality, high paying jobs, safer streets, and protecting and improving our education reforms as we do about ensuring protections for people puffing the magic dragon. We should always be focusing on getting Nevada higher on national rankings of job creation – the last thing Nevadans needs is higher taxes and hazy education legislation that doesn’t help our children learn.

One thing is clear this session – these marijuana bills are as chronically painful as a unicorn frappuccino.”

Next Week

At this point, it remains to be seen whether the Senate or Assembly with be prepared for the April 25th Deadline. So far, the Senate has passed roughly 100 bills. But the Assembly has lost some steam, managing to approve only as a few dozen. There are more than 500 bills up for consideration, so it may be a long couple of days for the legislature, and its staff.