Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 | 2 a.m.
- A cellphone law primer to help you stay legal (10-1-2011)
CARSON CITY — Starting today, drivers must stop using hand-held cellphones and begin giving bicyclists a wide berth when passing.
It also will be illegal to discriminate against transsexuals in employment, housing or public accommodations.
And, information on concealed weapons permits will be confidential, the outgrowth of a controversy involving former Gov. Jim Gibbons.
Those are just a few of the more than 140 bills passed by the 2011 Legislature that become law today. Thirty more will take effect Jan. 1.
Since 1989, every bill passed without a designated effective date becomes law on Oct. 1.
Here are a handful of laws that take effect today:
• One of the most publicized new laws will prohibit the use of a hand-held cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, the sponsor of the bill, said it was a “hard sell” and took four years to get it through the Legislature.
Officers will only be able to pull over a motorist and issue a warning at first. On Jan. 1, penalties take effect. It carries a fine of $50 for the first offense and up to $250 for the third offense. Emergency vehicles are exempt.
• One law requires a motorist passing a cyclist to move to the left lane if there is another lane in the direction the motorist is traveling. If not, the driver must not draw closer than 3 feet from the bicycle.
Also, motorists can be charged with reckless driving if they cause a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist.
• It’s already unlawful to discriminate in housing, public accommodations and employment based on race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, religion or disability. Three new bills add “gender identity or expression” to the prohibitions.
Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, said there is not a large population of such individuals, “but in the population the discrimination is widespread.” Parks, the sponsor or co-sponsor of the bills, said the laws are to ensure people are treated equally.
• In 2009, a controversy arose over whether a concealed-weapons permit issued to Gibbons had been suspended.
The Nevada Supreme Court ruled some concealed-weapons records are public but other information may be confidential. The Legislature made it clear that a permit holder’s name and any information acquired during the investigation of a permit holder to carry a concealed firearm is confidential, as are records regarding the suspension, restoration or revocation of the permit.
• Mobile gaming will be allowed in hotel rooms.
• Another new law creates a program for women convicted on more than three charges of prostitution in a casino within a five-year period. The judge may place the woman on probation and require her to attend a counseling or educational program, or the judge can assign her to a treatment or rehabilitation program if the woman is dependent on drugs.
The woman must agree to pay the costs of the program. And if she doesn’t complete it, she can be jailed for six months and fined $1,000.
• Stores that sell cigarettes will be required to post a sign explaining the dangers of smoking during pregnancy.
• Law enforcement officials will be prohibited from using restraints on female prisoners who are in labor, delivering a baby or recuperating from delivery, unless they present a risk of harm or flight.
If restraints are required, they must be the least restrictive to ensure safety and security. The same prohibitions apply to the treatment of girls in state, local or private detention facilities.
• The state treasurer is authorized to use up to $50 million from the state’s permanent school fund to invest in companies in Nevada or seeking to move here that are in health care, life science, cybersecurity, homeland security and defense, alternative energy, advanced materials, manufacturing and information technology.
• It will be illegal for kennels, animal shelters or a business that sells pets to confine a dog or cat in a cage, pen or compartment for more than seven hours during a 24-hour period. The operator must provide suitable protection to the animals when there are heat advisories or high-wind warnings.
• It will be a misdemeanor to intentionally make public the Social Security number of another person.
• Criminal offenders who receive a full pardon will regain the right to bear arms.
• A landlord must provide tenants with a functioning door lock.
• Recycling containers must be provided at apartment complexes and condominiums in Clark and Washoe counties.