MINUTES OF THE

SENATE Committee on Government Affairs

 

Seventy-First Session

March 28, 2001

 

 

The Senate Committee on Government Affairswas called to order by Chairman Ann O'Connell, at 2:04 p.m., on Wednesday, March 28, 2001, in Room 2149 of the Legislative Building, Carson City, Nevada.  Exhibit A is the Agenda.  Exhibit B is the Attendance Roster.  All exhibits are available and on file at the Research Library of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:

 

Senator Ann O'Connell, Chairman

Senator William J. Raggio, Vice Chairman

Senator William R. O’Donnell

Senator Jon C. Porter

Senator Joseph M. Neal, Jr.

Senator Dina Titus

Senator Terry Care

 

GUEST LEGISLATORS PRESENT:

 

Assemblyman David R. Parks, Clark County Assembly District No. 41

Assemblyman David E. Goldwater, Clark County Assembly District No. 10

Senator Randolph J. Townsend, Washoe County Senatorial District No. 4

Senator Maurice E. Washington, Washoe County Senatorial District No. 2

 

STAFF MEMBERS PRESENT:

 

Scott G. Wasserman, Committee Counsel

Juliann K. Jenson, Committee Policy Analyst

Laura Hale, Committee Secretary

 

OTHERS PRESENT:

 

Robert E. Erickson, Research Director, Research Division, Legislative Counsel Bureau

Lucille Lusk, Lobbyist, Nevada Concerned Citizens

Robert Barengo, Lobbyist, Nevada State Contractors’ Board, and Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners

Richard J. Legarza, J.D., General Counsel, Board of Medical Examiners

Marvin Leavitt, Lobbyist, City of Las Vegas

William E. Isaeff, Lobbyist, Special Assistant to the City Manager, City of Sparks, and Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities

Thomas J. Grady, Lobbyist, Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities

Alan H. Glover, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of County Clerk and Election Officials

David Howard, Public Policy Director, Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce

Gary H. Wolff, Lobbyist, Nevada Highway Patrol Association

Bob Gagnier, Lobbyist, State of Nevada Employees Association (SNEA/AFSCME)

Carole Vilardo, Lobbyist, Nevada Taxpayers Association

Mark H. Fiorentino, Lobbyist, American Consulting Engineers Council of Nevada (ACEC), Nevada Outdoor Media Association (NOMA)

 

Chairman O’Connell opened the meeting and introduced Robert E. Erickson,Research Director, Research Division, Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB), to provide information on redistricting.  Mr. Erickson explained, at the start of the legislative session, a rule was adopted for public participation in the redistricting process.  He said it called for at least one hearing in rural Nevada and one hearing in Southern Nevada to allow residents throughout the state to participate in deliberations related to reapportionment and redistricting.  He said hearings are to be held by the Senate Committee on Government Affairs and the Assembly Committee on Elections, Procedures, and Ethics, either jointly or separately.  Mr. Erickson suggested meeting dates of April 19, 2001 in Fallon and April 20, 2001 in Las Vegas; but said the committee may set alternate dates.

 

Chairman O’Connell said 32 bills must be passed out of the committee by April 14, 2001, leaving only six regular meetings.  Therefore, she said, there will have to be additional meetings scheduled, or the regular meetings will have to run into the evening.  The committee members agreed to extend regular meetings into the evening.

 

Chairman O’Connell opened the hearing on Senate Bill (S.B.) 329.

 

SENATE BILL 329:  Prohibits certain public bodies from taking action by vote without affirmative vote of majority of entire public body. (BDR 19-640)

 

Senator Terry John Care, Clark County Senatorial District No. 7, provided the committee with a list of 110 agencies affected by the bill (Exhibit C).  Senator Care said he sponsored the bill because of an event which took place in Clark County in 1999.  S.B. 208 of the Sixty-ninth Session contained a provision with requirements for approval from three-fourths of a governing body to create a non-restrictive resort inside an urban growth zone.

 

SENATE BILL 208 OF THE SIXTY-NINTH SESSION:  Revises provisions governing gaming licenses. (BDR 41-192)

 

In 1999, explained Senator Care, an application for such a resort was voted on by the Clark County Commission with three abstentions, three votes in support, and one vote against, resulting in approval with less than the majority of the commission actually voting in support of the application.  Later, he said, the review panel which was also created by S.B. 208 overturned the Clark County Commission on this vote.

 

Senator Care disclosed his law firm was involved in related litigation, but said the matter was settled, and he has reviewed the appropriate statute and determined there is no conflict.  He explained S.B. 329 would require public officials to attend meetings and vote, unless there is a legitimate reason for their absence, or a genuine conflict.  He stressed officials should review statutes carefully to be sure of a conflict before they abstain from voting on that basis.  The bill would apply to both elected and appointed positions because members of the public have the same expectations of both types of positions.  Senator Care clarified the bill would not affect the legislature because the Nevada constitution already requires a majority of the Senate or Assembly vote to take action on a bill.

 

Assemblyman David R. Parks, Clark County Assembly District No. 41, testified support for S.B. 329, noting he has observed many instances where less than a majority have voted in the affirmative, yet measures have passed.  He said, he thinks this is “just plain wrong.”  He stated the bill is not intended to prohibit or delay a public body from being able to take official action, but is intended to support voters’ expectations.  When a measure is passed with a minority of affirmative votes, Assemblyman Parks claimed, it furthers the distrust and skepticism held by the electorate.

 

Senator Care explained to Senator Neal a “public body,” as used in the bill, is defined in subsection 3 of section 2.  He said staff from the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) reviewed statutes and identified 110 bodies, as listed in the bill, and in Exhibit C, which would fit this definition.  In cases where absences or abstentions result in less than a majority vote, Senator Care suggested measures could be carried over to the next meeting.  Senator Neal noted the Nevada constitution requires yea or nay votes for the Legislature, with allowance for abstention in cases of conflict.

 

Senator Care confirmed Chairman O’Connell’s conclusion that his preference would be for an official to disclose a conflict, but to go ahead and vote anyway.  Senator Raggio noted there might be a problem with how “conflict” is defined.  Senator Care said the courts have looked at current statutes and found they do not do what was intended.  However, he said, he is very uncomfortable with minority approval and believes this bill is the best solution.  In response to Senator Porter, Senator Care explained the proposed bill would not address what constitutes a quorum; only that a majority is needed to take action on a measure.

 

Lucille Lusk, Lobbyist, Nevada Concerned Citizens, testified support for the bill, noting citizens expect public officials to attend meetings and vote, and abstentions should be rare.  She asserted if there were a problem with attendance, perhaps there should be a process for removal.  In case of conflict, she suggested votes should be held over for later meetings, and expressed concern with excessive ethics laws which “hamstring” public action.

 

Robert Barengo, Lobbyist, Nevada State Contractors’ Board, and Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, reported that Margi A. Grein, Executive Officer, State Contractors’ Board, wanted to vigorously express her board’s opposition to this bill because they are a seven-member board of working citizens who hold lengthy meetings twice per month.  Further, Mr. Barengo reported, they are a licensing board with professional members who may have true voting conflicts on some measures.  He said members of the board come and go during the day, and if limited to acting with unanimous consent of a quorum, they would not be able to get all the work done.

 

Mr. Barengo said, he believes, in the Assembly, each committee makes its own rules and numerous committees allow a quorum to conduct their business and a majority of the quorum to pass a bill.  Senator Raggio clarified this is not currently the case in the Senate.  Although each committee adopts its own rules, they are consistent with the Senate requirement for four of the seven committee members to vote to take action.  Senator Care asserted on the Assembly side, Standing Rule 42, subsection 3 addresses action by committee, and does require a majority.  Senator Neal noted even if a committee could act on a bill with less than a majority, majority action on the floor would still be required.

 

Richard J. Legarza, J.D., General Counsel, Board of Medical Examiners, testified in opposition to the bill.  He explained this board had nine members, and by law, six members are medical doctors and three are public members.  He explained section 311 of chapter 630 of Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) requires a committee of the board must meet and make determinations regarding the filing of formal complaints alleging violations of the “medical practice act.”  He said the statute requires three members, two doctors and one public, of the board to serve on this committee, leaving only six members on the board who would be eligible to adjudicate such cases under NRS 233B.122.

 

Mr. Legarza explained the committee handles investigations which sometimes extend over a long period of time, and may result in the overlapping of new and old members.  Consequently, he said, only five board members may be available for adjudication of a particular case.  With the proposed legislation, at least five of the members would have to vote in agreement.

 

Mr. Legarza said the board is also required to notify applicants, at the time of an appearance before the board, whether a license is denied or granted.  He said the proposed bill would again require agreement from five members, which in this case might mean notification could not be given.  He said the other side of this bill is that a recalcitrant minority could rule.  Mr. Legarza concluded the legislature had not considered NRS 233B and the effect of the proposed bill on regulatory boards and agencies.

 

In response to a question from Senator Neal, Mr. Legarza stated his opinion that a majority of a quorum, even if it constitutes a minority of the full body, should be able to act on a measure.  He reiterated the problem of having only six members, maximum, available for adjudication in the case of a formal complaint against a physician, and clarified the proposed bill would not affect the number of members available, but, rather, would require nearly all the maximum number available to vote in agreement.

Providing clarification for Senator Titus, Mr. Legarza said when a formal complaint is filed against a physician, the complaint states which members of the board are to serve on the investigative committee, and these members cannot, by law, also adjudicate the case.  He explained although the investigative committee members would count in the total number of board members for the purpose of calculating a majority, by law, they would not be able to vote on adjudication.

 

Mr. Barengo asserted if this bill were approved, the NRS sections in conflict would need to be revised.  Senator Porter suggested some of the agencies should consider appointment of alternates to ensure a sufficient number of voting members.

 

Marvin Leavitt, Lobbyist, City of Las Vegas, testified in opposition to the bill on the basis of both conflict of interest issues and attendance issues.  Particularly in the case of the debt management commissions, he said, where members represent different entities, if they have no stake in a particular hearing, it is hard to get them to attend.  He cautioned people could play games with the system, such as intentionally not showing up, and the result could be minority rule.  In response to a question from Senator Porter, he said some debt-related issues require a super majority of an entire board in order to pass, which, he noted, works well if you are opposed to an issue.

 

Senator Titus expressed concern regarding the authority of non-elected bodies with little accountability or accessibility.  If such bodies can make decisions without a quorum, she asserted, the need for the proposed bill is emphasized.  Mr. Leavitt noted most of the debt management commission members are elected, albeit, indirectly through other bodies.

 

Senator Porter suggested it might be time for local governments to look at these non-elected bodies and determine if they actually have the time to serve.  He commented he had received a call from Boulder City with concerns about appointed boards and quorums.

 

William E. Isaeff, Lobbyist, Special Assistant to the City Manager, City of Sparks, Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities, stated it is impossible to disagree with Senator Care’s observation about officials “doing their duty and casting their votes,” but asserted there would be consequences that have not been fully explored.  In a city like Sparks, where the council consists of only five members, he said, two absences would have a negative impact, even if the two members were on official business.  He said deadlines imposed by the Legislature often require timely action, and this bill could effectively give veto power to one out of the three remaining people on a given issue.

 

Mr. Isaeff suggested the ability to participate in a meeting via telephone conference might be a partial solution, but could be difficult, if different time zones were involved.  He stated the attorney general has sanctioned the use of conference calls for the purpose of public meetings.  He concluded the ability of a majority of a quorum to act has been effective for decades and is standard in parliamentary law, Robert’s Rules of Order, and Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure.

 

In response to a question from Senator Porter, Mr. Isaeff said there are some things, such as bond issues, which require a super majority vote by the Sparks City Council.  Fortunately, he said, there is usually good attendance, but there are exceptions.  He said he has not reviewed the list of 110 entities affected by the bill, but suspects there are entities in Sparks covered by the Nevada open meeting law, which are not on the list, but would be affected by the bill.  He said in some cases where timeliness is an issue, if no action is taken, decisions made by a “lower tribunal” are automatically deemed affirmed, and a lot of authority could be given in a single vote.

 

Thomas J. Grady, Lobbyist, Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities, testified planning commissions are an area of concern because they have an appointed board with no pay and it is difficult to get the complete commission together due to members’ external commitments.  If an issue is not heard on a given day, he said, it does not hurt the board, but hurts the party bringing the issue to the board.  Mr. Grady said Senator Porter’s suggestion of appointing alternates to non-elected boards has not been discussed with representatives of member cities and municipalities.

 

Chairman O’Connell closed the hearing on S.B. 329 and opened the hearing on S.B. 268.

 

SENATE BILL 268:  Requires current public officer to resign before running for different public office under certain circumstances. (BDR 24-13)

 

Chairman O’Connell stated the heart of the bill is in section 2, subsection 2 and requires resignation from a current public office in order to run for another office.  She said the bill draft request was submitted at the end of the last Legislative session, but not introduced, and is not intended to assist anyone or point fingers at anyone.  Rather, she said, “it is something I just feel very strongly about,” and believe public officials should “keep faith with the people who elected [them].”  Chairman O’Connell also reported she was asked to add subsection 2 to the bill, and to remove lines 10 through 13, in order to create a level playing field.

 

Assemblyman David E. Goldwater, Clark County Assembly District No. 10, testified in support of the bill because it would create a larger pool of candidates by reducing the power of incumbency.  He stressed, when you run against an incumbent:

 

It is incredibly intimidating, and if holders of public office had to resign in order to run for another office, there would be more candidates, increasing the likelihood of getting good folks.  If you reverse the logic and say that incumbents do not have to give up their jobs to run for office, that for sure is not good public policy.  So level the playing field and say . . . we’ll all start from ground zero.  If you want to run for a certain office, then you’ll have to give up the office you’re in now.  If not, then your campaign should be, “Please elect me, I beg, borrow, plead, steal, for you to vote for me for this office, but if I get a better chance to do something else, then I’m going to do that.”  That’s what the campaigns of the future would be.  The proposed bill is good public policy, and I look forward to supporting it in the Assembly.

 

Senator Randolph J. Townsend, Washoe County Senatorial District No. 4, testified, another perspective in support of this bill is that in Nevada, the public do not ask of their state representatives things asked in other states, but they do ask for fair treatment.  As citizen legislators, he said, the bills we sponsor should:

 

Keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.  We should not benefit in any way that would put us above the public.  When someone is employed in Nevada, they must make choices about moving on.  For us to maintain a job while looking for another is not afforded to the average citizen in Nevada.  Yes, people do apply for [new] jobs while they currently hold their [existing] jobs, but it is not in a fashion [comparable to that in which] elected officials sit. . . .  Anytime we are perceived to get something the public doesn’t get, it’s terrible public policy.

 

Senator Townsend summarized the bill would require an elected official to make a commitment for a 2- or 4-year term, and honor it.  He asserted a public office should not be treated as the ‘minor leagues’ for the next level.

 

Assemblyman Goldwater responded to a question from Senator Neal, stating, although he thinks the public can distinguish between candidates who hold, and do not hold office, the distinction should be that a candidate previously “held” office, in order to open up the field to even more candidates by reducing the power of incumbency.

 

In response to another question from Senator Neal, Senator Townsend asserted, although the members of the public make a choice as to whom is the best candidate, all candidates should run in an equal manner, as non-incumbents.  He said the power of incumbency is perceived by many to be almost insurmountable, and the right of officials to maintain power as they move to the next seat creates an unequal playing field.  Senator Porter clarified a person becomes a candidate when he or she has collected $5000 or has announced candidacy.

 

Assemblyman Goldwater said a state office holder could be prohibited by statute from running for federal office while maintaining the state office, and such an amendment would be in keeping with the spirit of this bill.  Senator Townsend clarified the jurisdiction of state legislation would be over state candidates and office holders, not federal office holders.

 

Senator Raggio inquired as to the possible ‘chilling effect’ the proposed bill might have, resulting in not always getting the best candidates for office.  He noted three of Nevada’s governors might not have run under such a bill, because they would have had to give up their offices.

 

Senator Titus asserted the proposed bill creates a constitutional question regarding limiting people running for federal office in any way.  She said imposed term limits have been struck down and there have been no definitive decisions on other kinds of limitations on people running for the United States Congress, other than those in the United States Constitution.

 

Assemblyman Goldwater noted, by state statute, candidates are prohibited from running for two offices in an election.  In response to Senator Raggio’s comments, Senator Goldwater asked:

 

Who were the people and candidates that were scared to run that didn’t have an opportunity to serve in office, because they did not want to return, or run against a city district attorney, or United States, or local government official?  What great names in Nevada history might we have known?

 

Senator Raggio disclosed his non-candidacy for the record.  Senator Titus said she regretted having to oppose the bill because she thought the intentions were good, but felt someone needed to make the argument for voter rights.  She provided a written copy of her testimony (Exhibit D).

 

Senator Titus said recruiting candidates is difficult and many are found among existing public officeholders.  In reference to the language in section 2 referenced earlier by Chairman O’Connell as possibly being omitted, Senator Titus said, it is unfair and undemocratic, and likely to be declared unconstitutional, as it would apply to some candidates and not others.  She said the bill is also undemocratic in thwarting the public will through appointments in the case of resigning officials, or loss of representation.  She provided many examples of officials in Nevada and the U.S. who have run for other offices, and concluded, candidates running for a second office do not offend the voters.  Choice, she said, is the democratic way.

 

Assemblyman Goldwater answered, “it is an insult to the people of this state, to say the only qualified people are those currently elected.”  He asserted there needs to be a balance between the power of incumbents and a pool of qualified candidates.  Further, he said, appointing someone to an office is a violation of the covenant between a candidate and the electorate.  He noted all the candidates mentioned by Senators Raggio and Titus could have run for office under this bill.  He said the question was whether or not the powerful incumbent repressed someone else from running for office, and asked, “Were they greater than any of those mentioned?”

 

Chairman O’Connell pointed out people invest a lot of money in a candidate because they agree with his or her philosophy and want his or her representation.  She expressed her view, if the candidate decides to take another course in the middle of a term, it is like breaking faith with those people.

 

Chairman O’Connell closed the hearing on S.B. 268 and opened the hearing on S.B. 297.

 

SENATE BILL 297:  Makes various changes to provisions governing elections. (BDR 24-841)

 

Alan H. Glover, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of County Clerks and County Election Officials, testified this bill resulted from conversations with Chairman O’Connell to deal with the kind of problems which occurred in Florida during the last general election.  He said a group of county clerks met with representatives from the secretary of state’s office and the Washoe County voter registrar to review amendments (Exhibit E ) drawn up by the Washoe County voter registrar.

 

Mr. Glover noted one of the main reasons for the bill is so the committee can discuss which ballots should be counted in an election.  Currently, he said, there are no standards for counting contested optic-scan ballots; however, there are standards for counting “chips.”  He suggested this is a good opportunity for the committee to determine what should be done so there is a good record in case of any future challenge.  Mr. Glover asserted election laws in Nevada are much better than those in Florida and there would not be so many problems.  He suggested the amendments should be worked through for technical changes first, with a subcommittee, then the whole committee could deal with substantive changes regarding how to count marks on ballots.

 

Chairman O’Connell asked Senator Titus, who agreed, to take the lead by chairing the subcommittee.  Senator Porter and Mr. Glover agreed to serve on the subcommittee at the Chairman’s request.  Mr. Glover also volunteered staff from the Office of the Secretary of State to serve on the subcommittee.

 

In response to a question from Chairman O’Connell, Mr. Glover said not all election officials in the state were surveyed with regard to the amendments and mostly officials from rural counties participated in the meeting.  He said Clark County officials did not participate in the meeting because they have a different system, but they did have major input into some of the provisions of the bill.  Mr. Glover reported there was mostly agreement on the amendments, except for a provision regarding a requirement for county clerks to run as non-partisans, which, he said, may be something to address at a later date.

 

Chairman O’Connell closed the hearing on S.B. 297 and opened the hearing on S.B. 312.

 

SENATE BILL 312:  Amends charter of City of Sparks to prospectively change time for election of officers. (BDR S-146)

 

Senator Maurice E. Washington, Washoe County Senatorial District No. 2, testified the bill would amend the charter so Sparks elections would coincide with general elections.  He explained the bill does not reference special elections and the change would save money.

 

Mr. Isaeff testified the change would go into effect June 3, 2001 if possible.  He explained in order to get onto the new cycle, someone elected June 3, 2001 would serve a shortened term from 4 years to 3.5 years; someone elected in 2003 would also have a shortened term to 3.5 years; then in 2004, it would go back to a full 4-year term.  He noted this follows the example of Reno when in 1993 their charter was amended to do the same thing.

 

Mr. Isaeff reported Sparks is the last jurisdiction in Washoe County still on the odd year election system at a cost of over $80,000 per election cycle for a stand-alone election.  He said this bill has received near unanimous support from the Sparks Charter Committee, the Sparks Citizens Advisory Committee, and the Sparks City Council.  He asked for swift approval so the bill can move through both houses and get Governor Guinn’s signature in time for the 2001 election, which would shorten the implementation period and save money.

 

Mr. Isaeff explained he had a concern about a provision in section 7 of the bill which would delete a reference to election dates.  He reported Brenda Erdoes, Legislative Counsel, Legal Division, LCB, helped locate a provision in NRS 293C.175 which indicated if the election date is not in a charter, it will be governed by general Nevada election laws.  David Howard, Public Policy Director, Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce, also testified in support of the bill and urged early consideration to help save money.

Chairman O’Connell closed the hearing on S.B. 312 and opened the work session on S.B. 353.

 

SENATE BILL 353:  Establishes procedures for certain state agencies to provide uniforms for certain employees. (BDR 23-406)

 

Gary H. Wolff, Lobbyist, Nevada Highway Patrol Association, testified general support for the bill to help address the increasing cost of uniforms.  However, he expressed concern the bill contains no allowance for cleaning costs of uniforms, which must be dry-cleaned.  Currently, he said, some of the cleaning costs are subsidized under a $600 annual allowance which covers both issuance of uniform and some cleaning.  He proposed an amendment (Exhibit F) with language similar to that in NRS 608.165.  Although this statute does not currently apply to officers, he said, it requires employers to provide cleaning of unique uniforms without cost to employees.

 

Mr. Wolf reported cleaning costs vary throughout the state, depending on proximity to dry-cleaning services, but the average cost would be about $10 per week.  He said the Nevada Highway Patrol Association is not asking for full coverage, but partial subsidy, and suggested $100 per quarter would be a reasonable amount.  This would be $400 per year for about 370 employees, or $148,000.  Mr. Wolf estimated it could possibly be done at a lower cost with a contract service where officers could drop off uniforms and a cleaner could pick them up, so there would be no money changing hands with the officers.  He explained, if a Nevada Highway Patrol officer is sloppy in appearance or wears a dirty uniform, the officer is subject to disciplinary action.

 

Senator Raggio requested the cost figures be provided in a fiscal note, as the amount being considered is significant.  Mr. Wolff noted $400 per year would be $200 less than the current allowance, and indicated the association would even accept $300 per year.  But, he said, the total elimination of a cleaning allowance was “not in the spirit” of what the Legislature has done for the association in the past.

 

Senator Raggio asked if this would open the door for other agencies who would have the same concerns.  Mr. Wolff responded, saying some agencies already clean uniforms for their employees, but they would have to speak for themselves.  He said the Nevada Highway Patrol Division could provide figures, and if $300 per year were budgeted for each officer, any remaining amount could be reverted back to the state.

 

Copies of a memo to Chairman O’Connell from John P. Comeaux, Director, Department of Administration (Exhibit G), were provided to Mr. Wolff and Bob Gagnier, Lobbyist, State of Nevada Employees Association.  Mr. Gagnier testified uniforms had been discussed previously in the context of a voucher system where the state would contract with a vendor.  He said the concept was employees would be able to use vouchers to secure uniforms from vendors, but the language in the bill requires an agency to provide uniforms and employees must return them to the employer upon separation.  Mr. Gagnier expressed concern that uniforms would be recycled.  He said although testimony from the last hearing was that recycling was not the intent, it is what the language of the bill reflects.  He claimed correcting the language to address this concern would require a major rewrite, but agreed to have something available for the committee the following week.

 

Chairman O’Connell closed the discussion on S.B. 353 and opened S.B. 58 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 58:  Creates Nevada commission on children and families. (BDR 18-1067)

 

Chairman O’Connell explained supporters of this bill asked to have it withdrawn.

 

            SENATOR CARE MOVED TO INDEFINITELY POSTPONE S.B. 58.

 

            SENATOR O’DONNELL SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened S.B. 123 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 123:  Makes various changes concerning municipal obligations and procedures of debt management commissions. (BDR 30-699)

 

Chairman O’Connell drew the committee’s attention to amendments under tabs A and B of the work session packet, and noted it appeared the bill was being rewritten.

 

Carole Vilardo, Lobbyist, Nevada Taxpayers Association, testified the bill would address encroachment of competing entities to utilize the reserve portion of a property tax rate. It would also allow debt management commissions to annually set a percentage rate range, not to exceed 85 percent and not less than 70 percent, rather than the current 90 percent which does not provide sufficient notification of financial emergencies.

 

Mr. Leavitt said he did not have an opportunity, prior to the meeting, to review the amendments, which are complex and should be reviewed in more detail before commenting.  He agreed to be prepared to testify the following week.

 

Chairman O’Connell closed the discussion on S.B. 123 and opened S.B. 163 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 163:  Makes various changes to provisions relating to enforcement of building codes and zoning regulations by cities and counties. (BDR 22-240)

 

Senator Raggio referenced testimony from a prior hearing in which concerns were expressed with regard to the use of part-time inspectors in small towns and overtime costs for limited staff in small counties.  He also reiterated his earlier concerns regarding the “laundry list” included in the bill which would require changes to the statute every time one of the professional organizations made a change.

 

Chairman O’Connell noted the concerns raised by Senator Raggio appeared to be addressed in the amendments under tab C of the work session packet.  Senator Raggio requested review of the amendments.

 

Mr. Grady said he did not have an opportunity to review any amendments prior to the meeting, but he thinks there may be another amendment somewhere because the one provided does not appear to be correct.

 

Chairman O’Connell closed discussion on S.B. 163 and opened S.B. 175 for discussion.

SENATE BILL 175:  Makes various changes to provisions relating to disabled persons. (BDR 27-194)

 

Chairman O’Connell explained the amendment for this bill removed everything but the first three sections, which removes the fiscal note.  She said the first three sections remain unchanged.

 

            SENATOR RAGGIO MOVED TO AMEND AND DO PASS S.B. 175.

 

            SENATOR NEAL SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened the hearing on S.B. 198.

 

SENATE BILL 198:  Establishes bill of rights for persons whose financial or other business records are subject to examination by regulatory governmental agencies. (BDR 19-53)

 

Chairman O’Connell referred the committee to the amendment under Tab E of the work session packet.  Senator Titus requested a statement for the record to the effect the amended bill would not undo any of the protections put in place during the last Legislative session in response to many Southern Nevada residents losing their money to some mortgage institutions.

 

Scott G. Wasserman, Committee Counsel, clarified the amendment would affect chapter 232 of NRS instead of chapter 239A, as in the original bill draft, limiting impact to the Division of Financial Institutions and those regulated by this division.  He also stated, ”the amendment does not affect the protections put in place during the last legislative session,” but, he said, Kimberly Marsh Guinasso would need to respond with regard to the affect of the underlying bill.

 

Senator Raggio requested a new print up of the bill with the amendments to make sure the prior legislation is not impacted.  Mr. Wasserman responded the Legislative Counsel Bureau, Legal Division, would be happy to provide a draft of the bill with amendments.  Chairman O’Connell closed discussion on S.B. 198 and opened S.B. 255 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 255:  Makes various changes concerning contract between design professional and public body for provision of services in connection with public work. (BDR 28-236)

 

Mark H. Fiorentino, Lobbyist, American Consulting Engineers Council of Nevada (ACEC), and Nevada Outdoor Media Association (NOMA), testified the amendments presented to the committee have consensus from the Association of General Contractors and some of the local government representatives.  He said that during the last hearing, they spoke in support of the bill with the amendments presented to the committee.

 

In response to a question from Senator Raggio, Mr. Fiorentino said there would be very little effect on landscape architects.  He explained the bill would prohibit local governments from requiring design professionals to indemnify local government employees and agents for their own misconduct.  He noted landscape architects would be included in the definition of design professionals, so they would be extended the same protection provided to engineers, architects and others.

 

Mr. Fiorentino said the bill came forward through circumstances in which local governments have said to design professionals on public works projects, “we will not enter into a contract with you unless you agree to indemnify our employees for their own misconduct.”  He reiterated this bill would prohibit such a process.  It would allow local governments to require indemnification for anything caused by the design professionals or their agents, but, he said, it would prohibit local governments from requiring indemnification before entering into a contract with them.

 

            SENATOR PORTER MOVED TO DO PASS S.B. 255.

 

            SENATOR TITUS SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED.  (SENATOR NEAL VOTED NO.)

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened S.B. 265 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 265:  Requires city or county to pay just compensation or authorize alternative location for certain structures or uses of property under certain circumstances. (BDR 22-156)

 

Chairman O’Connell referred the committee to the amendments under tab G of the work session packet.  Mr. Fiorentino said he did not have an opportunity to review the amendments prior to the meeting.  He reported since the initial hearing there had been a meeting with representatives of local governments and a proposal to limit the bill to the outdoor advertising industry.  He said, “We have agreed to get those amendments to the local government representatives today and ask for their comments back by Tuesday of next week.”

 

Senator Raggio reminded the committee he was absent for the initial hearing and inquired who had appeared in support or opposition to the measure.  He also reported he had received some letters and telephone calls from people concerned about non-conforming use in their areas, and inquired if this was addressed in the proposed amendments.

 

Chairman O’Connell stated the amendments do address the concerns raised, by narrowing the bill to affect the outdoor advertising industry only.  Also in response to Senator Raggio’s questions, Mr. Fiorentino attempted to characterize the opposition from the City of Reno.  He said the City of Reno had two objections: 1) the bill was overly broad and Mr. Fiorentino believed the proposed amendments address that concern; and 2) the City of Reno has adopted an ordinance prohibiting new outdoor advertising structures, and there was concern the bill would affect the ordinance.

 

Although Mr. Fiorentino was not involved, he said, he understands there was litigation challenging the initiative effort to ban new structures.  Mr. Fiorentino added that in previous testimony, he asserted the bill would not affect the ban, as it would only affect those structures existing in the ground today.  He agreed to Chairman O’Connell’s request to begin with the amendment from tab G, when meeting with the local government representatives, prior to further testimony on the bill.

 

Chairman O’Connell closed the discussion on S.B. 265 and opened S.B. 299 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 299:  Makes various changes relating to Airport Authority of Washoe County. (BDR S-759)

 

Senator Raggio asserted some of the prior testimony was an overreaction to what the bill does.  He explained the bill would add another person to the board to avoid a tie situation which has bogged down the work of the Airport Authority of Washoe County.  He claimed there is more support than opposition for this bill which attempts to define experience for board members, and said the bill does not limit elected boards that make appointments from determining people have other qualifications which are appropriate.  Senator Raggio explained the bill would also limit board members to two terms and ensure they would not be removed for exercising independent judgment.  These are both current practices, he said, but the bill would add specific language to statute.

 

            SENATOR RAGGIO MOVED TO DO PASS S.B. 299.

 

            SENATOR NEAL SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened discussion on S.B. 324.

 

SENATE BILL 324:  Requires that toilet facilities in public buildings and places of public accommodation be identified with signs discernible by blind and other visually impaired persons. (BDR 28-78)

 

Senator Titus said she looked at the amendment and interpreted it does what was originally intended and should address the concerns raised during the previous committee hearing.

 

Chairman O’Connell explained to Senator O’Donnell the supporters for the bill testified to the difficulty, for people who are visually impaired, of distinguishing men’s restrooms from women’s restrooms.  She said signs would be posted 60 inches from the floor, at the beginning of corridors leading to restrooms, and in the case of a building with restrooms in separate corridors, signs would have to be posted at the entrance to each corridor.

Senator Titus clarified the bill only applies to public buildings and places of public accommodation.  She noted the height requirement is already under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and this bill is just about placement.  Senator Titus reported the amendments are supported by many of those who had problems with the original bill.

 

            SENATOR TITUS MOVED TO AMEND AND DO PASS S.B. 324.

 

            SENATORS NEAL AND RAGGIO SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened S.B. 334 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 334:  Expands and changes name of Tricounty Railway Commission. (BDR S-604)

 

Chairman O’Connell reported there was no opposition to this bill.

 

            SENATOR O’DONNELL MOVED TO DO PASS S.B. 334.

 

            SENATOR PORTER SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened S.B. 347 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 347:  Designates state tartan. (BDR 19-749)

 

            SENATOR TITUS MOVED TO DO PASS S.B. 347.

 

            SENATOR NEAL SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

Chairman O’Connell opened S.B. 401 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 401:  Makes various changes to provisions governing office of science, engineering and technology. (BDR 18-815)

 

            SENATOR O’DONNELL MOVED TO DO PASS S.B. 401.

 

            SENATOR TITUS SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened S.B. 562 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 562:  Transfers office of science, engineering and technology within University and Community College System of Nevada to office of governor. (BDR 18-1446)

 

Chairman O’Connell explained this bill would do the same thing as S.B. 401, so it could be indefinitely postponed.

 

            SENATOR PORTER MOVED TO INDEFINITELY POSTPONE S.B. 562.

 

            SENATOR O’DONNELL SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened discussion on Senate Joint Resolution 7.

 

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 7:  Urges United States Department of State to approve establishment of Mexican Consulate in Las Vegas. (BDR R-1148)

 

            SENATOR PORTER MOVED TO DO PASS S.J.R. 7.

 

            SENATOR O’DONNELL SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell opened S.B. 312 for discussion.

 

SENATE BILL 312:  Amends charter of City of Sparks to prospectively change time for election of officers. (BDR S-146)

 

            SENATOR RAGGIO MOVED TO DO PASS S.B. 312.

 

            SENATOR O’DONNELL SECONDED THE MOTION.

 

            THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

*****

 

Chairman O’Connell adjourned the meeting at 5:00 p.m.

 

 

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED:

 

 

 

Laura Hale,

Committee Secretary

 

 

APPROVED BY:

 

 

 

                       

Senator Ann O'Connell, Chairman

 

 

DATE: