This week legislative outlook

By  | 

The 2007 Nevada Legislature opens itssecond week on Monday with an Assembly hearing that's expected tofocus on a huge, long-term liability of up to $4.1 billion inhealth benefits for current and future state government workers.

The Government Affairs Committee will hear from Leslie
Johnstone, executive officer of the state's employee benefit
program. The liability issue is one of the big concerns facing
lawmakers. Potential solutions to reduce the liability range from
big appropriations for some 30 years to smaller appropriations of
taxpayer dollars coupled with moneysaving limits on benefits,
higher premiums and reduced pay raises for state employees.

Also Monday, Assembly Democrats plan a press briefing on their
education agenda, which includes a bid for full-day kindergarten in
Nevada's public schools. The kindergarten plan, opposed by
Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons, also will be discussed at an Assembly
Education Committee hearing.

Gibbons' proposed budget for his office and the governor's
mansion will be reviewed Monday in Senate Finance. The panel and
its Assembly counterpart, Ways and Means, also will review the
state Gaming Control Board, which oversees the state's gambling

Ways and Means also is scheduled to review spending plans for
the state agency that has been battling federal efforts to open a
high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

Senate Judiciary will review a plan for early release of some
prisoners from county or city jails to relieve overcrowding.
Assembly Judiciary is scheduled to discuss penalties for graffiti
and other damage to property.

Assembly Natural Resources looks at the state Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources on Monday, while Senate Human
Resources reviews the state's big Medicaid program. The total of
Medicaid recipients in Nevada is about 170,000. That's up from
about 100,000 in 2000.

On Tuesday, a joint Senate-Assembly budget panel will discuss
the state Department of Motor Vehicles and the federal Real ID Act,
which calls for a national driver's license. DMV chief Ginny Lewis
says the new federal requirement could lead to chaos, including DMV
wait times for Nevadans that could double.

An Assembly panel dealing with corrections, parole and probation
will hear from state Department of Corrections officials and also
from former Chief Justice Bob Rose.

Also Tuesday, the Assembly committee that deals with election
rules will discuss AJR10, a resolution that would change the
residency requirements for voter registration.

On Wednesday, joint Senate-Assembly education committees will
discuss a school adequacy study that says Nevada should spend at
least $1.3 billion dollars more a year on public education to meet
a goal of having most students meet federal and state standards.

Assembly Judiciary plans a midweek hearing on AB49, which would
reinstate exemptions from jury duty for any federal or state
officer, judge or lawyer, various county officials and state prison
guards. A new exemption would be created for local jail guards.

Assembly Health and Human Services will get a report Wednesday
on uninsured Nevadans. In trying to help the state's roughly
400,000 uninsured, lawmakers say they may seek more insurance and
health care opportunities for target populations such as pregnant
women, poor children or those who work for small businesses.

Also Wednesday, Senate Government Affairs will review SB13,
which restricts local governments from trying to prevent people
from carrying signs on public sidewalks "on the basis of content
or viewpoint" of the signs.

On Thursday, Assembly Ways and Means will discuss the budget for
the Health and Services Department, including spending plans for
mental health programs and rural clinics.

Friday's hearings include a Senate Human Resources and Education
meeting on SB8, which says that repeated misuse of drugs or alcohol
by someone responsible for a child's welfare is evidence of
negligent treatment.

Also Friday, Assembly Judiciary will discuss AB8, which would
require that someone arrested for driving under the influence could
not be released on bail for at least 12 hours.
On the Net: Nevada Legislature:

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-02-09-07 2220EST