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Tim Burke: Insights on Nevada Legislature’s ‘19 session

April 12 marked the deadline for bills to pass out of their first committee to be further considered during this year’s Nevada legislative session.

Those bills that didn’t move on are essentially “dead” and not likely to be passed this session. The good news for conservatives is that the plethora of liberal bills introduced by Democrats will not all pass into legislation during the 2019 session.

The Legislature is overwhelmed with the volume of bills that were introduced and cannot consider all of them during the time the legislators have in Carson City. The bad news is that there are still several controversial bills that could become law.

AB291 would outlaw bump stocks in Nevada. The bill would ban the sale and possession of any device that increases the fire rate of a semi-automatic. The bill is sponsored by Democrat Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui from District 41 (Clark County). AB186 is sponsored by seven Democratic legislators and it ties Nevada’s electoral votes to the popular vote in our state.

It’s a national move by some states to make sure the popular vote and the electoral vote come up with the same results during the presidential election. This bill virtually insures that whatever presidential candidate the major urban population centers vote for is who our electoral votes will go to, further marginalizing the rural areas.

One bill that should rank at the top of every list of anyone opposed to more government is SJR5. The bill sponsored by five Democrats calls for the Legislature to meet every year instead of every two years for 120 days. On odd years lawmakers would meet for 90 days. In even years the session would last 60 days. This means we would get to see more government rules and regulations on an annual basis instead of the current every-other-year sessions. The resolution would require another vote by lawmakers in 2021 to pass. A vote of the people would follow as it changes Nevada’s Constitution.

One of those bills that seemed like a sure bet to pass was AB120, the bill that would have allowed the seizure of guns without due process under a protective order. It failed to make it out of committee. The bill had some support by Democrats and the governor so be prepared to see some version of it reintroduced in 2021. AB149 eliminated the death penalty in Nevada. The bill would have abolished the imposition of a sentence of death on a person convicted of first-degree murder.

The sex education bill, AB295 also did not make it out of committee. The existing law requires the board of trustees of each school district to establish a course or unit of a course of instruction concerning acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the human reproductive system, related communicable diseases and sexual responsibility, which must be taught by a teacher or school nurse whose qualifications have been approved by the board of trustees.

It also requires each board of trustees to establish an advisory committee to advise the district concerning the content of and materials to be used in such a course.

The proposed bill instead requires the board of trustees of a school district to establish a course or unit of a course of evidence-based, factual instruction in sexuality education.

Most bills introduced by Republican legislators failed to make it out of committee for consideration. Two of the more notable bills introduced by rural legislators were SB143 and AB218. SB143 was a bill introduced by Senator Joe Hardy which would have eliminated legalized brothels. The bill failed to gain any additional sponsors and was dead on its introduction.

AB218, sponsored by Assemblyman Gregory Hafen, District 36, would appropriate $58 million to the ESA program. The program was enacted in 2015 and it launched January 2016 as the nation’s first universal ESA program. It allows parents to remove their children from their assigned public schools and access a portion or all of their children’s public education funding to pay for services like private school tuition, curriculum, learning therapies, tutoring, and more. Nevada’s Legislature did not fund the program in 2017 and has refused to do so again in the 2019 session.

There will be other bills that passed out of first committee for further consideration that will not become law.

There will be many more bills that have come out of committee that will become law and almost all of them will be Democrat-sponsored bills. With a little less than two months left in the Legislature, it will continue to be both entertaining and controversial.

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

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