It’s been a little while since you’ve heard from me - the Legislative committees had a quiet period while legislation moved (or failed to) across the floors of both houses. This week, however, bills began to enter their opposite houses again - and I was able to continue our advocacy for or against a large number of bills. I was also interviewed on Talking Truth to Power with Jennifer Terhune and Brendan Trainor on Friday, April 28th - we had a great discussion about the Libertarian Party of Nevada’s work this Legislative Session, Donald Trump, North Korea, and a slew of other subjects. They’re interested in having me back on after the Session ends to get a final report from the LP, and I’ll be thrilled to join them.
As we move forward through the last month of the Session, I’d like to take a moment to explain the legislative process in broad strokes. First, either a legislator or a lobbyist writes and introduces a Bill Draft Request, or BDR, which may or may not become a bill. If it does become a bill, its first stop is a hearing in the relevant committee in its originating house, either Assembly or Senate. You can tell which house a bill originated in by the first letter - AB* are Assembly bills, and SB* are Senate bills. This initial hearing is where testimony regarding the bill - support or opposition - is heard; public testimony doesn’t generally occur during work sessions, and never occurs during floor votes. The members of that committee then have a work session on the bill where they consider amendments and vote whether to pass it on to the floor of the originating house. If it passes out of the work session, the bill gets a vote on the floor of the Senate or Assembly. If it passes off the floor, the process begins again in the opposite house, where the bill gets its second initial committee hearing (open for public testimony). When I mention bills you’ve heard me talk about before, it’s because they’ve survived the first half of this entire process and have finally reached the relevant committee on the opposite side of the Legislature, where I’m once again able to testify for or against them.
If any of these bills sound particularly interesting, you can share your opinion on them with the legislators and committees reviewing them by going here and typing in the relevant bill number. It’ll send your message directly to the sponsors and co-sponsors. As some bills have more than ten sponsors, this is a great time-saver.
I began this week testifying in support of SB201, which would ban the use of conversion therapy on minors in Nevada, and SB110, which would provide an exemption for the newspaper publication requirement for trans people who change their names to conform to their gender identities. I’ve mentioned both of these bills to you in previous newsletters - they’ve made it through the Senate and had their first hearing in the Assembly, where I returned to support them again. Senator David Parks is the primary sponsor for both of these excellent bills, and he was very grateful for our support - grateful enough that he’s requested our assistance on another bill he’s sponsoring this Session.
As you may have heard, one of the more exciting upcoming bills is SB261, which would legalize the prescription of life-ending drugs for terminally ill patients in Nevada. On Tuesday, I received a phone call from Senator David Parks’s office. They specifically requested the Libertarian Party’s support on SB261, as they were impressed by our previous activism on the Senator’s other bills (SB110 and SB201, mentioned above). First thing on Wednesday morning, I visited Senator Parks’s office to get a better understanding of the bill. It’s carefully designed to allow terminally ill patients to be prescribed a single dose of a life-ending drug which they can self-administer. My only minor concern with this bill is that it may impose some additional requirements and restrictions on life and health insurers, but those provisions may still be amended. I was honored to be approached and will be happy to support this bill when it receives its first hearing on May 10 (it was exempted from the original deadline).
I also chased down Assemblywoman Heidi Swank and chatted with her about AB321, which would have required boards of county commissioners to require Airbnb hosts to provide certain reports and information to a county or city. While we still don’t like this bill (and urge you to use the form listed above to oppose it), Assemblywoman Swank did listen to our feedback and improve it before its Senate hearing, changing “requiring” to “authorizing.” She gets points for that, at least.
The most exciting lobbying I did this week was joining forces with Americans For Prosperity (and potentially the ACLU) to lobby against Senate Joint Resolution 4, which would urge the federal government to adopt a Constitutional amendment regulating “political contributions and expenditures by corporations, unions and individuals.” I agree with the ACLU that restricting an individual’s capacity for political speech is a serious First Amendment issue. When Elliot Malin of Americans for Prosperity approached me and Holly Welborn of the ACLU to ask for our help lobbying the Assemblypeople who still have a chance to stop SJR4, I was eager to assist. Dashing through the hallways with Elliot from office to office scheduling meetings with every Assemblyperson on the Committee for Legislative Operations and Elections, I realized that, at least on a local level, government doesn’t move blindly or monolithically - it’s just people. Individuals and small groups can still have an outsized influence if they put in the hard work and facetime with their legislators to explain what matters to them and why. It was also exciting to realize that our work over the past several months has given the Libertarian Party of Nevada a certain amount of political capital. Visibility has led to legitimacy. The legislators take our opinions more seriously now than they have in years; they’re willing (and in some cases, eager) to listen to and work with us.
I testified on many other bills last week, as well. SB125, sponsored by Senator Aaron Ford, is similar to AB181 - both restore certain civil rights for felons. While it’s less broad than AB181 (it doesn’t include Class A felons), which I also supported, SB125 is still an excellent piece of legislation that would allow non-violent offenders who have paid their debt to society to vote and serve on juries. I was proud to support this bill. According to the Sentencing Project, 4% of Nevadans have been convicted of a felony. The War on Drugs has resulted in mass incarceration for minor, non-violent drug offenses, creating a permanently disengaged underclass with no ability or incentive to participate in their democracy. Restoring felons’ civil rights would decrease recidivism and give them a reason to care about their communities.
I also supported AB118 as it got its first Senate hearing. Under current Nevada law, those under 21 can’t have CCW permits, but this bill creates a special exception for honorably-discharged or active members of the Armed Forces or National Guard between the ages of 18 and 21. We believe that these individuals have demonstrated their responsibility with firearms - and this is a basic Second Amendment right, in any case. This bill came in front of the Senate Committee this week, and I supported it.
SB399 would give Tribal ID cards equivalency with Nevada drivers’ licenses for the purpose of personal identification. This is a simple, common-sense piece of legislation from Senator Settelmeyer - if a state or federal government issues an official ID and it has equivalent information, why shouldn’t it be treated equivalently for identification purposes? I was happy to support this bill in the Assembly committee this week, as I believe it would remove a systemic state-imposed disadvantage from Nevada’s tribal people.
In the same Assembly hearing, I also supported SB375, which would authorize the Governor or his or her designee to enter into agreements with Indian tribes in Nevada relating to the regulation of the use of marijuana. The trick with this one is that Indian reservations are technically both federal land and sovereign territories, both subject to federal drug laws. However, the residents want medical marijuana dispensaries like those available in the rest of Nevada. SB375 will allow them to enter into agreements with the Governor legalizing medical marijuana on Tribal lands. I hadn’t expected to support this bill when I arrived in the hearing - I didn’t know it existed - but it was an easy decision.
On Friday, I got through three bills within twenty minutes, which is probably an all-time lobbyist record. I got a flat tire and had to rush to make the hearings on time, but I made it! I dashed madly up the stairs to the fourth floor, where SB199 was being heard. This bill would create a new class of craft distilleries in Nevada (“estate” distilleries, specializing in high-end liquor created from local ingredients), got its first Assembly hearing, where I supported it. This bill from Senator Settelmeyer would spur both economic development and good spirits (yes, I said that in the hearing, and the legislators laughed) in Nevada.
Immediately afterwards, I sprinted down to the second floor, where the Senate Judiciary Committee was hearing AB229 and AB365. AB229 would render the provisions for marriage in NRS gender-neutral, and AB365 would create a pathway for non-religious marriage officiants and allow the state to sell legally-meaningless but good-for-tourism vow renewal certificates. I supported both in their first hearings in the Assembly. Senator Segerblom, who chairs Senate Judiciary, was in high spirits and a speedy mood, refusing to let anyone get in more than a minute’s worth of testimony (their schedule was packed). I testified very quickly in support on both bills, to the Senator’s gratitude, and that was it - a whirlwind of activism!
This week I’ve got meetings with eight Assemblypeople on SJR4 and testimony on another double handful of interesting bills, including AJR10 (Yucca Mountain), SB415 (feminine hygiene product tax exemption), SB398 (blockchain regulation ban), SB344 (edibles packaging), and many others. Should be fun!
I’ve got one final request for you: If you haven’t followed @LPNevada on Twitter, go do it now! We’re pushing for 5k (followers) in May, and it’s one of the best ways to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events. Also, if you're not already a dues paying member of the Libertarian Party of Nevada, consider becoming one. Dues start at only $5/month and they help make these Missives possible.
That’s it for this week!
Until next time,