80th SESSION OF THE NEVADA STATE LEGISLATURE
MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2019
The last week of the 80th Legislative Session (ending Friday March 8) was historical, but not for a good reason. Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson (District 4, Las Vegas) resigned from the Senate announcing he was facing charges of misappropriating campaign funds. Atkinson admitted his guilt during a court appearance Monday, March 11. He has admitted taking nearly $250,000 in campaign funds for eight of his 17 years in the Legislature, starting in 2010. He pled guilty to one count of wire fraud during his appearance in U.S. federal court in Las Vegas as part of a plea agreement. He allegedly used some of the money to lease a luxury SUV, open a Las Vegas nightclub along with other personal expenses. He’s expected to be sentenced in July. The Senate approved Senator Nicole Cannizzaro (District 6, Las Vegas) to take over as the new Senate Majority Leader.
Meanwhile, in other legislative news, none of the major bills currently being watched by RPEN are scheduled to be heard this week. We are waiting for a work session in the Senate for Senate Bill 224, which was introduced during a Senate Government Affairs committee meeting March 1. As of today (March 11) there are 85 comments posted on the legislature’s “Share Your Opinion” page, and 17 of them are listed as “against” and 67 of them “for”. This bill supported by RPEN seeks legislative relief to spell out once and for all what is private and confidential information relating to retired public employees in Nevada. Once again there have been a couple of negative guest editorials published in the Las Vegas Review Journal and the Reno Gazette Journal. One comes from the Nevada Press Association and another from Robert Fellner, the Policy Director for the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). Both organizations spoke against SB 224 at the March 1 hearing.
As we’ve mentioned in a previous Legislative Alert, SB 224 is similar to a bill that was passed by the Senate and Assembly during the 2107 session only to be vetoed by then Govern or Sandoval. We are hoping for a better outcome this go around. Once the bill is sent to the Senate Floor for a vote, it’ll head to the Assembly where we may likely issue another “call to action” so please stay tuned to your email for our alerts, as well as our website, rpen.org and also on Facebook and Twitter. If haven’t yet shared your opinion on the bill, it’s never too late because that page will be open until the session ends. You can share your thoughts about SB 224 at the “Share Your Opinion” page https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/80th2019/
As of March 11, SB 224 has risen from 19th out of the top 50 bills to 15th place. The bill still in first place, receiving 3,100 comments is SB 165, an end of life bill that makes various changes to provisions governing prescribing, dispensing and administering controlled substances designed to end the life of a patient. Still in second place is Senate Bill 143, another controversial measure that endured several hours of public comment during a recent hearing. SB 143 repeals, revises and reenacts provisions relating to background checks for certain sales or transfers of firearms.
The Public Employees’ Benefits Program (PEBP) started their own Legislative Update meetings on March 7, with the next one not scheduled until April 4. PEBP is following around 12 bills dealing with open meetings laws as well as pharmaceutical costs and other health related issues. They typically take a neutral stance on most of the bills unless Executive Officer Damon Haycock is instructed otherwise.
Until next week.
Terri Laird, RPEN Executive Director