Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010 | 4:30 p.m.
Employees who have had to pay for work cards before being allowed to hold one of 13 types of jobs will no longer have to get the cards after a vote of the County Commission.
The commission voted unanimously Wednesday to eliminate the work card requirement for the following positions: ice cream truck drivers, mobile food vendors, psychic arts practitioners, peddlers and temporary merchants, locksmiths, burglar alarm installers, second-hand dealers, pawnbrokers, massage establishments, unit brokers, theater managers, vacation certificate businesses and telephone solicitors.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani spearheaded the move as the county’s Department of Business License argued that eliminating some work cards would save the county money because of the cost associated with investigating work card denials that get appealed.
"After working with Metro, ACLU and constituents ... I was able to present to the commissioners and public an ordinance that will save the taxpayers money but most importantly give people an opportunity to go to work,” she said.
The work card basically includes a criminal background check overseen by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The department has fought changes to the system over the years. Even so, small bites have been taken out the work-card requirement. The number of workers getting them has declined from about 90,000 in 2000 to about 10,000 today. A card can cost a minimum of $45 but can go as high as $135 for bartenders, who sometimes have to get multiple cards from different governmental entities if they are working in casinos.
Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada, called Wednesday’s vote a “good move.”
“Is it perfect? No, but it’s a good step,” he said.
Aside from cutting the types of jobs requiring the cards, the new county code also changes the language that allows Metro to deny someone’s work card.
“People used to get denied simply because they were charged with a crime,” Giunchigliani said, noting that being charged will no longer automatically ruin someone’s chances for getting a card.
“People have due process rights and this gives Metro less discretion in what to do,” Lichtenstein said.
The next step, he added, is to try to get Las Vegas to adopt similar changes to the city code.
“They should just follow suit and get rid of a lot of the things that the county got rid of, and maybe even more,” he said. “But this is an ongoing process. Some day I’d like to see them get rid of non-gaming work cards pretty much in their entirety.”