New Laws Taking Effect Wednesday

Nevada Legislature 2003
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Major elements of Nevada's $836 million tax plan take effect on Wednesday, along with key sections of more than 170 other bills passed this year by state lawmakers - dealing with subjects that range from terrorism and capital punishment to sheep-shearing and lobbyist honesty.

The laws represent about a third of the more than 500 measures passed by the 2003 Legislature and the two special sessions that followed before lawmakers finally adjourned.

The new anti-terrorism law, AB250, classifies killings by terrorists as first-degree murder punishable by the death penalty and allows for prosecution no matter how many years it takes to catch a suspected terrorist.

The law specifically states an intent to protect constitutional free speech rights and notes that civil disobedience is not terrorism.

Also taking effect is AB15, banning the execution of mentally retarded criminals. The law brings the state into line with a U.S. Supreme Court mandate.

AB10 erases various antiquated laws, including one dating to at least 1911 that made it a misdemeanor for "any sheep to be penned, housed or fed for the purposes of being sheared" within city limits.

SB221 asks lobbyists to be honest when making requests to legislative staff. They can't tell legislative staff they have authorization from lawmakers for the requests if they really don't, or misrepresent the scope of such authorizations.

Many consumer-protection laws are among those with Oct. 1 effective dates, including AB93 which imposes big fines for companies that send unsolicited e-mail advertising, or "spam." The law lets spam recipients recover $500 per piece of mail if their e-mail address was obtained through unauthorized methods. However, lawmakers admit it'll be a tough law to enforce.

Other consumer-related measures include:

-AB236, which enables people needing prescription drugs but lacking insurance to ask the Nevada Office of Consumer Health Assistance for information on alternative programs that provide free or discounted drugs.

-SB124, which protects Nevadans against Enron-type corporate schemes. The law ensures that corporate officers or stockholders remain personally liable if there's "intentional misconduct, fraud or a knowing violation of laws."

-AB325, which ensures Nevada consumers know whether they're buying a vehicle that was previously in an accident or flood. The information goes on the vehicle's title.

-SB100, creating a state commission to resolve Nevada homeowner association disputes; and SB136, requiring a hearing before any association fines a homeowner.

-SB387, requiring pharmacists to use generic versions of prescription drugs when filling prescriptions that will be paid for by governmental agencies.

-SB297, which bans the use of electronic devices to steal credit information and imposes stiff penalties on people who commit such crimes.

-SB319, which prohibits credit scoring by insurance companies.

Also among the new laws are a few election law reforms, including AB285 which requires Nevada candidates to swear they've never been convicted of a felony. It also requires people filing for office to show proof of residency in the form of photo identification containing the person's address, or a current bill or paycheck.

AB235 provides a voters' "bill of rights." Among other things, the bill calls for a uniform, statewide system for counting and recounting votes.

AB541 lets candidates have nicknames printed on ballots in order to help voters distinguish between them and their opponents. And incumbents can have their names printed first and in bold type.

Also among the new laws are AB95, enabling judges to sentence people to prison if they fail in the state's drug courts; AB33, which doubles the penalties for making meth near any residence, business or school; and SB204, requiring anyone selling property to disclose to a potential buyer that the property once was a methamphetamine lab.

SB122 prohibits medical malpractice insurers from using any financial loss sustained through investments when trying to increase premiums paid by doctors. It also bars medical malpractice insurers from basing rates for obstetricians on the number of babies they deliver in a year.

And AB320 delays cancellation of some doctors' medical malpractice insurance policies. The delay would give doctors time to seek other insurance policies.

Under AB226, passengers in Nevada taxicabs must wear seat belts if they're 18 and older. Cabbies would have to post signs telling passengers of the law.

AB273 eases the methods for establishing permanent guardians for children who can't be reunited with their natural parents and aren't likely candidates for adoption. And AB381 requires medical, police and child welfare officials to conduct more comprehensive reviews of certain child deaths.

SB73 boosts pay rates for jurors and erases many jury service exemptions. The rate now will be $40 for each day after the first day they're in attendance for jury selection. It also makes jurors eligible for a blanket rate of $40 for each day they serve.

SB50 gives local school districts the authority to impose tougher smoking restrictions than the state currently imposes. It also shortens the time frame for grocery stores to abate secondhand smoke emanating from slot arcades in the stores.


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