Las Vegas Sun

August 23, 2016

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Nevada Legislature 2013:

Mo Denis and the walking dead: Majority leader keeps recycling legislation alive as ‘zombie bill’

Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, resurrected one of his bills Friday after other legislators had presumptively killed it.

He had earlier faced scrutiny after the Sun reported that he had authored two bills that would directly benefit his previous employer, a materials recycling facility.

That bill faced certain death in the Assembly, so Denis gave it a second life as a so-called “zombie bill” by sticking the language of his bill into another bill, Assembly Bill 487.

The politics surrounding this bill don’t involve the usual Republican-versus-Democrat dynamic. Instead, the Senate and Assembly often grapple with one another as they try to get their bills through the final days of the legislative session, which ends June 3.

Legislators try to shepherd their beloved bills through the legislative process, avoiding the death of their bills through parliamentary procedure and dealmaking. This particular amendment arrived at the last minute on an important deadline day.

“In this building, there’s a lot of of things that go on when it comes to bills,” Denis said.

The original bill, Senate Bill 316, would have required construction sites to dispose of their demolition waste at a materials recovery facilities, which sort waste into garbage and recyclables. It also would have cut out other types of recycling centers, but it has since been amended.

Now, he said, it’s a good bill that will create jobs and promote recycling.

“This will actually benefit businesses and contractors, and recycling is increased,” he said.

The amendment is only necessary because Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, had the original bill gutted via a common legislative tactic: Instead of having the bill do something, legislators can make it a bill that would study the possibility of doing something.

This didn’t please Denis, who still hopes the bill will pass.

“They took everything out and turned it into a study,” Denis said. “That doesn’t increase recycling if they made it a study.”

But Bobzien said members of the Assembly had concerns that construction costs would increase because of the bill.

Denis, however, said his amendment changes the bill so that it allows for more competition while also only applying to Clark County, thus mollifying concerns of rural Republicans.

Still, the bill has to go back to the Assembly, where it faces an uncertain future.

“The reception on our side will likely be similar to what it was,” Bobzien said. “The same questions are there. Clearly, this is a signal from the (Senate) majority leader that this is important to him.”

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