Nevada Legislative Briefs

Nevada Legislature 2003
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Assembly Dems unveil $972 million tax plan for Nevada

Assembly Democrats are promoting a nearly $1billion tax plan that focuses heavily on Nevada's business and gaming.

Their proposal includes a modified version of the gross receipts tax designed to protect businesses that operate with low profit margins.

It also imposes a new tax on property sales. The rate on that tax increases as the value of the property goes up.

Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins says the measure is designed to hit businesses more than the average Nevadan. It doesn't increase property tax or tax services, but it still increases levies on cigarettes and liquor.

The proposal would generate a total of $972 million over the next two fiscal years.

Report shows Nevada lobbyists' favorite legislators

Three-quarters of the way through the 2003 Legislature, lobbyists have spent nearly $73,000 on Nevada legislators and on legislative-related events.

The spending for February, March and April includes nearly $63,000 on group events, and another $10,000 on individual legislators.

Senate Transportation Chairman Ray Shaffer is first among all 63 state lawmakers, taking $729 worth of food and drinks from lobbyists during the first three months of the four-month-long session.

Freshman Assemblyman and former lobbyist Josh Griffin is second at $646; followed by Assembly Government Affairs Chairman
Mark Manendo at $546.

Lobbyists reported spending nothing on 13 lawmakers; and $15 or less on four others. In some cases, legislators paid back the lobbyists who spent money on them, to ensure they were in the "zero" column in the LCB report.

Panel OKs DNA tests, delays vote on other Nevada death penalty reforms

A Nevada Senate committee is set to vote today on death penalty reforms eliminating use of three-judge panels in sentencing.

Lawmakers need to change Nevada's statutes on the panels because of a US Supreme Court ruling. But they're not sure exactly what to

The bill mandates that when a jury is hung during the sentencing phase of a capital trial, the judge must impose a no-parole life sentence.

But prosecutors say judges should be allowed to instead call a new jury to decide the penalty.

Senators will decide which option is best.

The Senate panel has rejected some other death penalty reforms but did advance a bill establishing procedures for post-conviction DNA testing.

That bill was already approved by the Assembly and heads to the full Senate.

Measure lowers blood-alcohol limit for Nevada drivers

After months of holding onto a bill to toughen Nevada's drunken driving standards, Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry says he'll let the legislation go to the Assembly floor for a vote.

Arberry says the Legislature has no choice but to pass the measure, which would lower the maximum legal blood-alcohol content for a driver from .10 to .08.

If the state doesn't reduce the standard, Nevada's Department of Transportation will lose $28 million in federal highway construction funds during the next four years.

Congress passed a law in 2000 that requires states to have the lower standard in place by October or they will start losing highway construction money.

Nevada gov signs medical malpractice bill

Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn has signed a bill that prohibits medical malpractice insurers from using any financial loss sustained through investments when trying to increase premiums paid by doctors.

Guinn declared a malpractice insurance crisis last year shortly after St. Paul Companies pulled out of the market. The big insurer had covered about 35 percent of the state's doctors.

St. Paul said frivolous lawsuits and large jury awards drove it out. But critics said the company's bad investments and risky lowball pricing made it unable to ride out an economic downturn.

Guinn also signed a bill that requires medical, police and child welfare officials to conduct more comprehensive reviews of certain child deaths.

The bill would mandate reviews of deaths involving children under the care of the state Division of Child and Family Services, cases of alleged abuse or neglect or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or cases in which a relative requested a probe.

Nevada Senate approves firefighter benefits bill

A bill ensuring that firefighters who contract certain forms of cancer can qualify for industrial insurance coverage has been approved by the Nevada Senate.

The bill ensures workers' compensation coverage for a firefighter with five years on the job, and was backed by a North Las Vegas fireman who's dying of cancer.

William Harnedy says his claims for state benefits were delayed or rejected following his 2001 cancer diagnosis. He says that while the legislation may not help him, it would aid others in his situation.

Insurers had objected to the bill at first, but backed off after language was added in the Senate specifying that any claim of on-the-job exposure to carcinogens causing cancers is rebuttable in court.

The bill now returns to the Assembly for discussion of the amendment.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)