From heat mitigation to designating a state horse, lawmakers ax 38 bills at deadline
One house’s treasure may simply be another house’s trash.
Roughly 40 bills were left to wither away after Friday’s committee passage deadline, a key juncture for bills that passed out of one house to live or die at the hands of the other side’s Democratic majority.
On the Assembly side, several high-profile bills backed by Democratic senators, including a bill that would have expanded the North Las Vegas City Council and another that sought to establish protections for outdoor workers in extreme heat, did not receive committee votes and failed to advance past the deadline.
And though the Senate killed significantly fewer bills (just 14 compared with the 24 killed in the Assembly), the upper chamber’s deadline day saw the death of AB387, a bill that would have expanded the ability of state officials to regulate water rights, and that faced opposition from politically powerful companies, such as mining operator Barrick.
Friday wasn’t all doom and gloom — lawmakers did pass more than 300 bills out of their second committee last week, including more than 100 on Friday. But they’re quickly staring down the next legislative deadline — Friday’s second house passage deadline.
Here’s a look at some of the high-profile bills that failed at the second house committee passage deadline:
- Nevada state horse bill put down — Despite pleas from adorable fourth grade students, state lawmakers unceremoniously killed a measure (SB90) that would have established the wild mustang as Nevada’s state horse. Despite passing out of the Senate on an 18-3 vote in April, the measure did not succeed in the wake of tension over land management concerns and the degradation of habitat caused by wild horses. In 1977, lawmakers designated the state fossil as the Ichthyosaur and in 1937 made the desert bighorn sheep the state animal (not to be confused with Colorado’s state animal, the bighorn sheep).
- North Las Vegas city charter bill fails to move forward — SB184, which would have changed North Las Vegas’ charter and expanded the number of city council seats, failed to move forward after 18 mayors from across the state warned of “unintended” consequences presented by state lawmakers working around city charter committees. Gov. Joe Lombardo had pledged to veto the bill, which passed out of the Senate on a party-line 13-8 vote.
- No clawbacks for voting machine funds — SB215, a bill that emerged as a response to some rural counties eliminating the use of electronic voting machines purchased using state funds, would have required counties that stop using state-funded machines to pay back those dollars to the state. Though the bill’s sponsor, Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas), said the provisions would only apply going forward, several critics were concerned the bill would require a clawback of funds awarded to rural counties for new voting machines in 2017 — concerns that had not been resolved through any amendments. The bill had passed out of the Senate on a party-line 13-8 vote.
- Only one fentanyl bill advances — The Assembly Judiciary Committee did not advance SB343, a bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) that aimed to tackle the state’s opioid overdose crisis. Elements of SB343 were rolled into a similar fentanyl bill (SB35) from Attorney General Aaron Ford, as part of a move late Friday to consolidate the two Democrat-backed efforts (and substantially change exactly how Ford’s bill worked, too). The changes came amid sharp criticisms from public defenders and other advocates that the proposed thresholds for fentanyl trafficking would lead to excessively harsh penalties for low-level drug users. Cannizzaro’s bill had passed the Senate on a 15-6 vote in April, with six Senate Democrats opposed.
- GOED to stay unhindered — After Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) criticized her own bill proposing to cap the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s authority to grant tax abatements worth more than $500,000, SB394 did not receive a vote in the Assembly Revenue Committee. The bill would have given power to the Legislature over large-scale tax abatements awarded by GOED, such as the $330 million tax deal approved for Tesla in March. During the committee’s hearing of the bill, Neal said the measure was “absolutely unworkable” but was intended to force a conversation about how tax abatements are issued in the state. The bill (which passed the Senate on a 14-7 vote that saw Sen. Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) joining Democrats in support) was also killed off as economic development leaders criticized any significant changes to the abatement process.
- Heat mitigation bill sputters under opposition — After multiple amendments watered down a bill requiring companies to provide water for outdoor workers at certain temperature thresholds, SB427, sponsored by Sen. Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas), never made it out of the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee. Those amendments included raising that temperature threshold from 95 degrees to 105 degrees, and even at one point leaving such regulations up to federal regulators — all proposals that failed to win over industry critics, who argued the requirements would be duplicative of practices already in place and overly onerous. It had passed out of the Senate on a party-line 13-8 vote in April.
- No weed for hospice patients —AB411, a bill that would have required medical facilities to allow terminally ill patients at the facility to use cannabis for relief, did not move out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It had passed out of the Assembly on a 29-13 vote, with Assemblywoman Danielle Gallant (R-Las Vegas) crossing party lines to support the bill.