Missives from the Front: The Rolling Legislative Barrage


At the end of this week, we’ll be halfway through the 2017 Legislative Session! We’re also coming up on April 14th, the deadline for new bills. And good thing, too - these politicians are churning out legislation like their lives depend on it! We testified or sent in statements on sixteen different pieces of legislation this week. That’s a new high score!

Before I tell you what we were busy with this week, though, you should know what’s coming up. To share your opinion on any of these bills with the legislators and committees reviewing them, go here and type 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.

AB356/AB376 are very similar, both requiring the State to disclose any exculpatory evidence they may hold against a defendant. Due process requires full transparency; a jury cannot make a fair decision without a complete picture of the evidence before them, and any failure to disclose exculpatory evidence undermines the quality of their work and our justice system. The battle between defense and prosecution isn’t a game in which to score points - these are people’s lives, and truth matters. I strongly support these bills.

AB346 attempts to regulate small-scale child care (four or less children where money is exchanged) by mandating background checks and authorizing government inspections. Every civilization throughout human history has engaged in this kind of mutual, distributed childcare - your friend watching the neighborhood toddlers for a few extra dollars a month is not something the State of Nevada needs to regulate. We are also concerned about the potential privacy implications of Section 8, which would allow employees of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health to “enter and inspect any building or premises of a child care facility … at any time.” Many of these these small care facilities are often located inside people’s homes. This requirement is a violation of both the right to privacy and the Fourth Amendment.

AB303 bans private prisons in Nevada. While private prisons may initially sound like a good idea to many libertarians, the prisoners are not the customer - the State is. And the State chooses to cut corners at the cost of their prisoners’ rights, liberties, and well-being every time. I think this is one of the most significant bills to come out of the Legislature this session, and I strongly support it. Private prisons are clearinghouses for state-sanctioned abuses of their own citizens - the worst kind of public-private partnership.

SB396, mentioned also below, was rescheduled for this week. This bill would prevent professional licensing organizations from taking disciplinary actions against their members for using marijuana- or hemp-derived products - for example, for marijuana massages. Thanks again, Senator Segerblom!

AB422 would transfer the state’s medical marijuana program from the Division of Public and Behavioral Health of the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Taxation. It also (1) allows a medical marijuana dispensary to recognize a nonresident authorization for the medical use of marijuana; (2) eliminates the requirement that the nonresident authorization have an expiration date and be unexpired; and (3) allows written documentation from a physician to qualify as such authorization in certain circumstances. It’s a large and complex bill, but looks promising!

SB402 bans the use of “corrective room restriction” (solitary confinement) for the purpose of disciplining or punishing a child in state facilities. I don’t know who would lock a child in an empty room to “correct” or “discipline” them (the state, apparently?), but children are people with civil liberties, too - I’ll support any reduction in the use of such an abusive act.

AB383 requires police officers to be trained in the constitutional and lawful use of force. While I don’t normally like bills that increase spending on the police department, bills that spend money training cops how not to ignore the law while stomping on your face (and maybe stomp less) are welcome. Police shouldn’t be frightening to the average citizen - but when excessive force is normal, fear is rational. This is another excellent reform from Assembly Ohrenschall. I’d recommend you support it using the form above.

Last week, we testified on or otherwise supported…

AB237, which abolishes capital punishment in Nevada. We cannot endorse this measure strongly enough, and I will be there to testify in its favor on Wednesday morning, when it’s heard. The state should never have the power to end a person’s life.

SB358, which would dramatically reduce civil asset forfeiture in Nevada if passed. Section 6.4 of this bill states that its goal is that “the public policy of this State concerning forfeiture of property is to… ensure that only criminal forfeiture is allowed in this state.” This is a step in the right direction - hopefully toward the eventual complete elimination in practice of civil forfeiture in Nevada.

SB415 makes feminine hygiene products tax-exempt, the way other medically necessary consumer products are. It’s a simple bill, but a good one. And I got to say “taxation is theft” while testifying in support!

AB326 and AB291 would require the Division of Parole and Probation and the Division of Public Safety to fully substantiate and provide sources for information related to the defendant's offense in presentence reports, which are used by judges to decide the weight of a defendant's sentence after conviction. Given the weight that these reports carry in determining the course of a defendant’s life, justice requires that they be unimpeachably accurate. Hearsay or unsourced allegations would not be sufficient in a court of law and should not be sufficient in a report which determines a person’s fate.

SB398, if passed, would protect blockchain technology from regulation or interference by the State of Nevada. Ensuring free and open access to blockchain technology will stimulate economic growth and cement northern Nevada’s role as a burgeoning center for high-tech innovation. Government can never keep pace with technological change, and when it tries, inevitably slows the rate of innovation. The past twenty years of online innovation have demonstrated how free markets, unhampered by government control, can fundamentally alter and radically improve the way we live in ways we never imagined. The blockchain is an extremely promising new technology, and setting boundaries to protect it while it’s still in its infancy is essential.

AB345 would prevent green energy generation for fewer than 540 customers from being defined as a “utility,” removing it from the purview of the Public Utilities Commission. This would protect individuals, small businesses, and communities from bureaucratic control and overreach.

SB399 is a simple, common-sense measure giving tribal IDs equivalent status to driver’s licenses for purposes of personal identification. Tribal IDs are issued by the federal government and contain at least as much identifying information as a driver’s license. There is no practical reason they shouldn’t be accepted.

SB218 creates a digital option for the mandatory posting of public notices. Under current law, public notices must be published in a paper newspaper. This bill allows them to be published exclusively online as an alternative. It also creates a special outlet for the purpose hosted by the Nevada Broadcasters’ Association (and this is probably a handout to them) - but I consulted with Aaron Ford, and he confirmed that - as the bill text reads - other digital news outlets than theirs will also be allowed to post public notices.

A bundle of bills liberalizing the laws and regulations around nurses, physicians’ assistants, and other medical professionals: AB115AB116AB265, and AB284. As there is a shortage of doctors nationwide, including in Nevada, expanding the regulations on what nurses are allowed to do is a prudent choice for patient and doctor welfare. Allowing nurses and physician assistants to perform additional duties provides more access to health care for the people of Nevada - and it lets doctors focus on the most critical issues, where they’re really needed.

There’s also a related bill, SB354, which extends broader reciprocity to licensed medical professionals in Nevada, excluding accountants, physicians, osteopathic physicians, or certain real estate and mortgage professionals. May draw licensed professionals from other states to Nevada. Nurses and several other professionals already receive reciprocity, but this bill strikes narrow language and replaces it with broader language.

And lastly, I went to the hearing to support SB396, which would have prevented professional licensing organizations for taking disciplinary actions against their members for using marijuana- or hemp-derived products - for example, for marijuana massages. However, the bill was pulled from the hearing at the last moment with no explanation. Hmm!

SB344 would prevent marijuana edibles companies from selling candy or using fruit or mascots in their marketing; it would also require all packaging of edibles to be opaque. I think these provisions are over-broad and would impose unreasonable requirements on edibles sellers who simply want to display and market their products. Marijuana consumption has never killed anyone - if a child consumed a parent’s edibles, the worst result would be a parent angry that their $60 brownies were gone.

AB294 would impose the transient lodging tax currently levied on hotel rooms on Airbnb rentals, as well. Airbnb would pay the fee directly, but it would get passed to the customer. Increasing the cost of Airbnb rentals is a gift to the established hotel industry. We will always object to additional taxes and increased barriers to entry, which protect established interests over individuals and innovation.

SB374 would protect professionals from disciplinary action by their professional organizations, but would also block employers from being able to fire employees who spoke publicly in support of marijuana use. I do support the first part of this bill, but the second part was more complex. While we support freedom of speech from the government, we also support an employer’s right to hire and fire as needed if an individual is violating a company’s mission.

Unfortunately, I’m going out of town for a funeral on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I’ll be submitting written statements for bills those days - but I’ll be back and raring to go on Thursday. The Leg doesn’t stand a chance against us.

That’s it for this week!

Until next time,
Wendy Stolyarov
Legislative Director