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Under 18 no longer eligible for life without parole

Nevada became the 13th state on Monday to abolish life-without-parole sentences for those under 18 after Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 267 into law.

The legislation eliminates the option of sentencing youth to life without parole, which has been a growing trend across the country in recent years, according to the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, a nonprofit advocating for the issue and based in Washington, D.C.

An estimated 12 people in the Silver State will be directly impacted by the new law and will become eligible for parole once the legislation goes into effect Oct. 1, said James Dold, advocacy director for the campaign. The campaign worked closely with Hambrick on the bill and some of its members testified in support of the measure. The number of people affected could go up as the law is implemented.

“Finally, Nevada law has caught up and recognizes that children are different than adults and those differences need to be taken into account,” Dold said Tuesday afternoon. The measure passed the state Legislature unanimously.

The law also requires the courts to consider the differences between juvenile and adult offenders when sentencing someone convicted as an adult for an offense committed when that person was younger than 18.

Yesenia Amaro

Governor sent bill keeping guns out of hands of the mentally ill

The Nevada Senate gave final legislative approval Tuesday to a measure designed to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

The Senate concurred with an amendment to Senate Bill 240, sending the bill to Gov. Brian Sandoval. SB240 was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson.

Among other things, it allows voluntary, free background checks for private-party gun sales. It also requires courts to transmit within five business days any order, judgment, conviction or plea involving a finding of mental illness to the state’s criminal history repository.

The measure also requires mental health professional to seek emergency hospitalization if a patient makes an explicit threat of violence, or to inform the threatened person and notify law enforcement.

Roberson said the bill aims to keep guns out of the hands of those suffering from mental illness “without enacting overly-restrictive gun control laws and thus upholding our constitutional rights.”

Sandra Chereb

Gun bill sent to the governor

The Assembly on May 22 passed a gun bill that would expand and clarify Nevada’s justifiable homicide law and prevent people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing firearms.

The Assembly voted on party lines 25-17 on Senate Bill 175.

The bill, which has already passed the Senate, goes to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s desk. The governor’s office didn’t indicate if he will sign the bill.

SB175 would expand the definition of justifiable homicide to include killing someone in defense of an occupied motor vehicle or someone who intends to enter a vehicle to assault a person inside. The bill also would grant civil liability protection to those who use justifiable force.

It would end a handgun registration requirement in Clark County and establish “state control over the regulation of policies concerning firearms.”

Under the bill, anyone convicted of domestic violence, including a misdemeanor offense, could not own a firearm. Doing so would be a felony.

SB175 would also expand the current law recognizing other states that offer concealed carry permits and allowing residents of those states to carry weapons in Nevada. States that require a class, program or training to obtain a permit would be granted reciprocity, expanding the number of such states by about 10.

Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, opposed the measure, saying it’s too subjective and tips the scales in favor of shooters who claim they were afraid.

Ben Botkin

Sex assault bill extending statute of limitations signed

Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed into law a bill that extends the statute of limitations for bringing forward rape charges from four years to 20 years.

The measure was spurred by a woman who alleges that comedian Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted her more than two decades ago.

Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams, D-Las Vegas, sponsored Assembly Bill 212 on behalf of a constituent, Lise-Lotte Lublin, who alleged that Cosby drugged her in 1989 in a Las Vegas Hilton suite.

Lublin held a news conference Tuesday outside the Legislative Building with her attorney, Gloria Allred, Bustamante Adams and her husband Benjamin Lublin. They spoke after meeting with Sandoval, who had signed the bill into law on Monday.

“My husband and I started with an idea,” Lublin said. “This idea flourished into something that I could have never imagined.

“Victims of sexual assault and rape will be afforded the much-needed time to report a crime. Countless victims will be able to have their voice heard.”

She added that extending the statute of limitations to 20 years “feels like a dream come true.”

Lublin filed a complaint with Las Vegas police in 2014 against Cosby, only to learn that criminal charges couldn’t be filed because the statute of limitations had expired long ago.

The new law wouldn’t allow charges to be filed against Cosby by Lublin.

The new 20-year statute of limitations only applies to new cases and rapes that haven’t yet reached the former four-year limit. The law takes effect Oct. 1.

Allred said the law is believed to be the first in the U.S. to change the statute of limitations for rape since the Cosby scandal broke about six months ago.

With the law affecting cases besides the allegations tied to Cosby, the advocates directed their comments toward other victims.

The original bill would have eliminated any time limitations for bringing charges forward, but the Assembly Judiciary Committee amended it, putting the 20-year limit in place. The bill received unanimous support from the Assembly and Senate.

Lublin came forward with her allegations in February with her attorney and husband. Over the past six months, about 20 women have alleged Cosby assaulted them over the years. Cosby and his attorney have denied the allegations.

The bill had the support from the law enforcement community and organizations such as Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center in Las Vegas.

Ben Botkin

Campus carry bill sent to Assembly floor

The Assembly Judiciary Committee on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow permit holders to have firearms on college campuses.

Assembly Bill 487, also known as a “campus carry bill,” now goes to the Assembly floor for a vote.

The issue has come up before this legislative session. The Assembly last week had killed a campus carry amendment to a different bill, with eight Republicans crossing ranks and joining Democrats to defeat the measure that would have allowed firearms on campus.

Seven of those eight Republicans are sponsoring the new bill, which has identical language to the amendment they rejected. The bill would allow permit holders to carry a concealed weapon on their person on campus. Permit holders also could have a firearm inside their vehicle or stored in a locked container attached to the vehicle.

Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, sharply criticized the Republicans who voted against the amendment last week. She said she’s “holding the not-so-great eight responsible” if the new bill does not get past the Senate.

Fiore said she supports the new bill but is leaving her name off as a sponsor to avoid hurting its chances of passage in the Senate.

Under existing law, a concealed weapon holder needs written permission from the college president to bring a firearm on campus. Permission is rarely granted. Nevadans must be at least age 21 to have a concealed weapons permit.

There has been widespread, but by no means unanimous, opposition to campus carry from students, faculty and administrators of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, the committee’s chairman, said he anticipates the bill will get a vote on the Assembly floor.

The bill also would need to pass the Senate, where its future remains in doubt.

A previous campus carry measure did not get a hearing in the Senate.

— Ben Botkin

Sandra Chereb and Sean Whaley cover Carson City for GateHouse Media, owner of the Pahrump Valley Times. Yesenia Amaro and Ben Botkin are reporters for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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