Nye on Carson, Feb. 27

Concealed weapon law changes hearing held

State lawmakers took up the first of three 2nd Amendment bills Wednesday, with the Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing testimony on a bill that would require Nevada to recognize concealed carry weapon permits issued to individuals from all other states.

Assembly Bill 139, sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, would establish the universal reciprocity requirement. Permit-holders from other states would have to follow Nevada’s concealed carry rules, and Nevadans would still be required to obtain a Nevada concealed carry permit. The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Nevada now has reciprocity with only 14 other states that meet or exceed the state’s standards.

Most of the testimony was in support of the bill, including from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. One notable exception was the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Carol Howell, representing the Northern Sierra Ladies Gun Club, testified in favor of the bill, saying the process she now has to follow to carry her gun to Florida, where her son lives, is expensive and cumbersome. Howell, a concealed permit holder in Nevada, said she has to go to Utah to obtain a concealed carry permit there because the state has reciprocity with Florida.

It was noted during the hearing that “open carry,” where a firearm can be carried visibly, is legal in Nevada and no training is required.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear two related bills later Wednesday.

Senate Bill 171 also addresses reciprocity regarding concealed permits. Senate Bill 175, a sweeping measure sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, would repeal Clark County’s handgun registration requirement, among other provisions.

The measure would also make it illegal for anyone convicted of domestic violence, even a misdemeanor offense, from owning a gun. A violation would constitute a felony. It also would prohibit anyone under an extended protection order from acquiring a gun while the order is in effect.

Sean Whaley

PERS reform bill dies in committee

A bill to change the makeup of the Public Employee Retirement System board died in an Assembly committee Wednesday after members overwhelmingly rejected a last-ditch amendment by the sponsor trying to keep it alive.

Assembly Bill 3 as originally proposed by Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno, would have included three public members with expertise in pension plans and no vested interest in Nevada’s retirement system to the board. Currently, all seven members on the board are plan participants.

Kirner’s initial proposal would have replaced one existing member with someone outside the system and added two others for a total of nine.

On Wednesday he offered an amendment to retain the existing seven and add two outside members. Kirner said his last-minute proposal was an attempt to find “middle ground” and appease critics.

But a motion to amend and pass the bill almost died for lack of a second. John Ellison, chairman of the Assembly Government Affairs Committee, then asked for a second to ensure a vote. The measure failed with only Ellison, R-Elko, and Assemblywoman Shelly Shelton, R-Las Vegas, in support.

Kirner earlier testified that having public input would give taxpayers a voice on the board that oversees $35 billion in assets and long-term unfunded liabilities of $12.5 billion.

During testimony last week, PERS executive director Tina Leiss said the current system is a model of best practices.

Kirner on Monday introduced a separate bill to phase out the PERS defined benefit plan and put new hires under a hybrid plan that relies mostly on defined contributions.

A hearing on that bill is scheduled Tuesday.

Sandra Chereb

Bill to change overtime law introduced

Employees would have to work more than 40 hours a week before receiving overtime pay under a bill introduced Wednesday in the Nevada Legislature.

Senate Bill 193 seeks to abolish a provision in state law that requires 1 ½ times the normal hourly rate for hours worked in excess of eight hours in a single day.

Under the measure, overtime would still be required if an employee worked more than 40 hours in a week.

Critics say the existing law especially hurts small businesses that are thinly staffed, such as convenience stores. Reforming the overtime law was identified as a top priority by some business groups this legislative session.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy.

Sandra Chereb

Senate bill would require PE at schools

State Sen. Joe Hardy’s bill to mandate at least 30 minutes of physical education a day for Nevada students from kindergarten to 11th grade isn’t expected to proceed this session in its current form after a hearing Tuesday in the Senate Education Committee.

Hardy said after the hearing that he will move forward with the bill by seeking optional ways for children to get more exercise, whether it be before or after school, with an expanded lunch time or through extracurricular activities.

Hardy, a physician, said he proposed Senate Bill 178 as a way to make children more active with the goal of leading them to a lifetime of physical activity, creating a healthier population of adults and fighting the nation’s obesity epidemic.

Existing state law requires all public schools to teach the core subjects of English, math, science and social studies, but there is no such mandate for physical education.

The bill would require the Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools to establish standards of content and performance for physical education in the different school grades.

Hardy, R-Boulder City, acknowledged there could be a cost to school districts to implement his proposal. But there could be ways to mitigate any additional costs and he welcomed any amendments to make his proposal workable for school districts.

The bill saw support from a number of speakers, including Mary Wherry with the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health.

Sean Whaley

Bill would punish contractors using illegal immigrants

Conservative Assemblyman Ira Hansen wants to prohibit licensed Nevada contractors from hiring people who are in the country illegally.

The Sparks Republican is the sponsor of Assembly Bill 133, which would require the state Contractors’ Board to investigate and take disciplinary action against contractors who knowingly employ workers who are in the country illegally. Employers who violate the law could be put on probation and subject to quarterly reporting on new hires. Subsequent violations could result in revocation of a contractor’s license.

Hansen, who is a plumbing contractor, said such workers have suppressed blue collar wages because they often work for cash at a lower hourly rate.

In testimony before the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee, he acknowledged that immigration is largely a federal issue and that his bill is generally “symbolic” in its scope.

But he said until the federal government gets “control of borders” and enacts immigration reforms, Nevada workers “deserve a little symbolic pat on the back” from state lawmakers.

The state contractors’ board offered an amendment that would defer determinations on immigration status to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and make issuance of a decision from federal authorities grounds for disciplinary action by the board.

No action was taken by the committee.

Sandra Chereb

Sandra Chereb and Sean Whaley cover Carson City for Stephens Media, owners of the Pahrump Valley Times

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