Legislative Session Ends After 120-Day Session

Tuesday night marked a deadline when bills either had to pass their house of origin, or die.  The Assembly passed 248 bills, alone, with a couple hundred more coming from the Senate.  Two of the Assembly bills included public safety.  AB485 passed 40-2, which would require all new school buses to have shoulder-harness seatbelts, starting in July of 2019.  AB334 passed 35-7, which would prohibit slow drivers from using the left lane on a highway.

"They should be traveling in the right-hand lane unless they're going to be passing somebody," Assem. Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks said. "So, public safety is really important and then, of course, we know seatbelts work. Seatbelts keep people where they need to be. My other job as a paramedic, I see it all the time, when people don't wear their seatbelts, how catastrophic it can be."

"Seatbelts on school buses is kind of obvious," Assem. Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville said. "Seatbelts save lives. Why wouldn't we let our kids wear them, as well?"

Several marijuana bills passed the Senate and Assembly. SB334, SB375 and SB396 each passed with a unanimous vote.  SB334 would regulate the packaging of marijuana products, hoping to make it unappealing to children. SB375 would address regulations for recreational marijuana on tribal land.  SB396 would authorize growth and handling of marijuana.  SB236 and SB374 passed along party lines, which could grant permits for marijuana use in some businesses, and authorize health care providers to prescribe medical marijuana to treat opioid abuse.

"We have an institutional criminalization of marijuana and that has permeated through other aspects of our laws and we had to clean those up," Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas said.

"Now by recreational, new laws have to be written in that respect," Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden said. "Especially, when it comes to driving under the influence and things of that nature."

Several bills were passed, regarding women's health.  AB113 would require businesses with 50 or more employees to provide a private, clean place for women to express milk.  SB253 would outlaw businesses with more than 15 employees from discriminating against pregnant women.  The senate passed it, unanimously.

"We really want to support and foster a culture of life and supporting pregnant women and women who are pregnant when they're applying for a job is right in line with that," Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno said.

AB249 requires insurance to cover all forms of contraception, including up to a year's supply of birth control pills. It passed 40-2.  SB122 would establish a revenue stream for family-planning clinics, which passed along party lines, 12-9.

"Most of what we do here is bipartisan and then there's just those handful of issues where we just have a philosophical point of view," Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks said.

Ratti says she is particularly happy that SB305 passed, which gives children in foster care legal counsel.  She says it has worked well in other states with similar laws.

"They have better outcomes," Ratti said. "You see better school performance. You see reunited with families more often. You see better health care. So, I'm really excited that bill is moving forward.

SB130 and AB431 both passed unanimously.  Each bill would more than double the amount of beer that a Nevada brewery can produce.  Current law allows 15,000 barrels of production per year.  While the bills are similar, there are differences.  If they both pass the other chamber, the two bills would be voted on. The one receiving the most votes would become law.

"A lot of times, as you're growing through a business, you hit a point where you're busy getting much larger or you continue to be stagnated at the size you're at, and that was why it was important to give them enough elbow room to allow these small businesses to grow," Settelmeyer said.

SB105 authorizes and requests that the governor proclaim "Indigenous Peoples Day".  The bill originally would have replaced Columbus Day, but lawmakers said that would have pushed aside historical contributions made by Italians in the U.S.  They chose August 9 as the date instead.