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September 20, 2014

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clark county commission:

Patient dumping, foster homes among possible topics for referral to Legislature

Commissioners cut pay for constables in Henderson and North Las Vegas

Bills to toughen checks on foster homes and to crack down on patient dumping at University Medical Center were among a slate of proposals the Clark County Commission will consider forwarding to the Legislature next year.

Commissioners got a first look at 10 proposed bills during their meeting Tuesday. They’ll have to shrink that list to four bills by Sept. 1, the deadline for submitting bill draft requests for the legislative session that starts in February. Under state law, the county is allowed to request only four bills to be drafted per session.

County manager Don Burnette said it’s possible some of the bills presented Tuesday could be sponsored by legislators, freeing up the county’s limited slots for other requests.

Commissioners will vote to approve a final list of bill draft requests next month. Here’s a look at the bill requests proposed by the county, which came from four departments:

University Medical Center

UMC put forward two bills. One is an attempt to curb patient dumping from other hospitals to UMC’s emergency room. The bill would force those hospitals to share an increased portion of the costs of patients transferred to UMC’s emergency room.

A second bill would allow UMC’s newly formed governing board to go into closed meetings and bypass the state’s Open Meeting Law in order to discuss “trade secrets.”

Department of Family Services

The county’s foster care and child protection agency has requested four bills. One would strengthen the agency’s ability to investigate child welfare claims against entities and organizations. A second proposed bill would allow the agency to do more extensive background checks on people who are regularly in foster homes. The other two bills would clarify language in a pair of statutes to make the laws more consistent.

Las Vegas Justice Court

The Las Vegas Justice Court, which handles minor crimes and traffic incidents, is requesting a bill that would allow a portion of bail forfeitures and misdemeanor fines to be diverted into a special fund.

The fund would receive 10 percent of the court’s revenues — about $1.8 million — and would be used to pay for specialty courts. The remaining revenue would go into the county’s general fund.

The court’s other bill request involves allowing temporary judges to replace sitting justices of the peace who are on medical leave.

Real Property Management

The county’s real estate department is requesting two bills. Both would tweak statute to allow the department to perform repairs and maintenance to county buildings more quickly and at a lower cost.

• • •

Constables take pay cut

Clark County Commissioners instituted a new pay scale for constables in Henderson and North Las Vegas in an attempt to boost transparency.

The move also means a serious pay cut for the two constables, who will now make a fixed salary of $103,000 per year after the commission’s unanimous decision Tuesday.

The constables previously drew their salaries from a fund generated from commissions their offices earned for delivering legal papers and evictions. The amount each constable made in a given year varied depending on how much their office brought in.

North Las Vegas Township Constable Herb Brown earned a salary of more than $250,000 last year with his offices bringing in $600,000 in revenue, according to the county staff. Henderson Township Constable Earl Mitchell made a salary of about $180,000 with his office bringing in about $800,000 in revenue.

Keeping track of budgets and salaries for the 11 constable’s offices has been a challenge for the county staff because each constable is responsible for keeping their own financial records.

Commissioners concerned about a lack of financial transparency moved to put two of the largest offices — Henderson and North Las Vegas — onto a fixed salary system.

The salary Mitchell and Brown will receive is equal to the pay of Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura, who was already on a fixed salary. Commissioners voted last year to abolish Bonaventura’s office when his term ends in January.

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