Las Vegas Sun

June 13, 2021

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Governor vetoes bill calling for study of death penalty costs

Sun Coverage

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed a bill that called for a study of the cost of the death penalty in Nevada.

Assembly Bill 501 was sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Election and called for the legislative auditor to examine the costs of capital cases compared to non-death penalty cases.

“This bill lacks the specificity necessary to persuade me that the outcome of the audit performed will be fair,” he said in his veto message.

There hasn’t been an execution in Nevada since April 2006. Some murderers have been sitting on death row for more than 20 years due to appeals.

The bill was approved by the Assembly 28-14 and by the Senate 11-10. The vote was along party lines with Republicans opposing the study.

The study would have included pre-trial, trial and appeal costs, plus how much it costs to keep an inmate on death row at the state prison in Ely.

The governor said, “The bill, for example, lists the costs to be assessed in determining the overall fiscal impact of the imposition of the death penalty, but it does not specify how it is these costs will be assessed.”

Sandoval also said the audit doesn't reflect the choices by individuals on death row in pursuing appeals. “Thus, because the bill fails to assure me that the outcome of the audit will be reliable and fair, I veto it,” the governor said.

Also vetoed was the bill creating the Office of Consumer Advocate in the state Division of Insurance. The governor said the goal of the bill was laudable in having a person examine the applications by insurance companies to raise rates.

“The bill, however, does more harm than good and seems to impose duplicative regulatory requirements,” he said. The commissioner of insurance is already required to examine the proposed rate increases and then make a decision on whether they are justified.

Sandoval said Assembly Bill 309 would also impose extra costs.

The governor said some proponents suggest the bill is necessary to comply with federal law, but he said compliance with federal law is possible without the bill.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-La Vegas, was approved 33-9 in the Assembly and 12-8 in the Senate.

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