Thursday, June 2, 2011 | 8:50 a.m.
CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed 27 bills into law, including one to allow competition on the election ballot next year to derail the plans of Caesars Entertainment to build a $500 million arena on the Las Vegas Strip.
Caesars has submitted documents containing more than 200,000 signatures for an initiative petition to create a special Strip tax district to impose a 0.9 percent increase in the sales and use tax to finance a proposed 27,000-seat arena near Harrah’s.
Opponents of the arena proposal, including MGM Resorts International, gained approval for Senate Bill 495 in the Legislature to place a proposal on the 2012 ballot to block a special district from levying a sales and use tax higher than the county-wide rate.
The measure with the most votes will win.
MGM Resorts and others also have appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court that the initiative petition of Caesars is invalid. Arguments will likely be heard later this year.
The governor also approved Senate Bills 331 and 368 to ban transgender discrimination in public accommodations and housing. Sandoval earlier signed a bill to prohibit discrimination in employment for transsexuals.
Sandoval also has vetoed four bills, including one that would have allowed students to graduate without passing all of the subjects on the Nevada High School Proficiency Examination.
Under the bill, a student would receive a high school diploma if he or she earned at least a 2.75 grade point average, met attendance standards and didn't have pending disciplinary action pending.
In his veto message of Assembly Bill 456, the governor said “Although this bill may allow more students to graduate from high school, it represents diminished expectations for our student and lower standards for obtaining a high school diploma in Nevada.”
Other bills vetoed:
-- Assembly Bill 135, which would limit the authority of a district court judge in dealing with people who violate probation. The governor said the bill restricts the power of a judge to put an individual in prison or to order treatment. He said this bill “undermines the ability of courts to effectively enforce sentences.”
-- Assembly Bill 253, which would increase the fines that can be levied for willful violation of the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Act. The governor said there is some merit to raising penalties to reduce violations, but a “more innovative and proactive approach is warranted to improve workplace safety and change behavior before it results in workplace injuries or death.”
-- Assembly Bill 254, which would change the law on issuing citations for violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Sandoval said the proposed law “unnecessarily increases the complexity and cost of operating a business in Nevada.” He said it would allow a citation be issued based upon a determination that an employee “has access to a hazard” in the workplace. He said the bill “creates ambiguous and misguided new requirements” for employers.