2007 Nevada Legislature Hits Midpoint

The ninth week of the 2007 session, which starts Monday, is a good news-bad news point for Nevada lawmakers. By Friday they'll be halfway through the session, but also working without pay.

Legislators can meet in regular session for only 120 days, and Thursday is the 60th day. Besides being the midpoint, it's also the last day for their 138 dollar daily pay. After that, they're down to a per-diem allowance until the session ends in early June.

Other key developments include the scheduled start of budget closings by money committees tomorrow. But that's been complicated by Governor Gibbons' move to make nearly 112 million dollars in agency budget cuts, which will require many adjustments in his spending plan for the next two fiscal years.

Committees today will review dozens of bills in various committees, including a measure in Assembly Ways and Means that would allocate two million dollars to expand abuse prevention and education programs; and a bill in Senate Finance that revises the eligibility requirements for students who get one of the state's Millennium Scholarships.
Assembly Judiciary considers a bill changing the law that doubles prison sentences if a gun or other deadly weapon is used to commit a crime. Under the change, the add-on sentence could be no more than five years. The panel also takes up a measure designed to protect Nevadans from identity theft.

Senate Judiciary considers legislation increasing the value of property protected under Nevada's homestead exemption law from 350,000 dollars to 550,000 dollars.

Assembly Health and Human Services debates several bills dealing with protection of children, including a measure that would make some improvements in reporting by child welfare agencies when a child in state custody dies or nearly dies due to abuse or neglect. However, critics say the plan has too many exemptions.

Senate Human Resources and Education will discuss various bills dealing with students, including a Democrat-sponsored plan calling for full-day kindergarten; and a measure authorizing schools to impose fees for students participating in organized sports activities.

Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor considers a bill increasing the cap on systems eligible for net metering to 5,000 kilowatts; and a measure broadening tax breaks for businesses that utilize geothermal energy.
Tuesday, besides the usual batch of committee hearings, the lawmakers are scheduled to hear a speech from Congressman Dean Heller.

Senate Commerce and Labor considers a measure requiring health insurance policies to provide coverage for vaccines to protect against cervical cancer; and Senate Judiciary considers a bill requiring a DNA sample of sex offenders upon release from prison.

Assembly Taxation considers legislation exempting professional baseball events from the state tax on live entertainment; and Senate Taxation considers a bill changing the way that snuff is taxed.
Senate Legislative Operations and Elections considers legislation prohibiting threats against people who are gathering signatures on petitions; and Senate Transportation and Homeland Security reviews a proposal for toll roads and toll bridges.

An Assembly Health and Human Services subcommittee discusses legislation requiring the state to set up a Web site and phone services to give Nevadans information on hospital costs and quality.

A select panel on corrections debates a bill allowing the release of inmates who aren't considered threats to society after they've served their minimum sentence. That's aimed at easing prison overcrowding.
On Wednesday, Assembly Commerce and Labor reviews three measures aimed at helping Nevadans who lose their homes because they can't pay their mortgages.

Assembly Judiciary takes up legislation providing for restoration of parental rights by a judge if it's in the best interests of a child and the child isn't likely to be adopted.

Senate Judiciary plans a work session on legislation that would make Nevada recognize certain states' concealed weapon permits; and on a controversial bill to protect rights of grandparents to see grandchildren.
Bills dealing with identity theft and parental rights also are on the panel's agenda.

A Senate Government Affairs subcommittee discusses a measure requiring government agencies to follow strict timelines when responding to public records requests.