Las Vegas Sun

June 28, 2017

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Nevada Legislature considers police body cams, gay marriage

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Lawmakers feel the Nevada Legislature taking full swing this week as they plan for dozens of crucial floor votes and iron out policy proposals they hope to send Gov. Brian Sandoval.

"It's a sprint now to the end," said Assemblyman James Oscarson, a Republican from Pahrump.

Legislative staff and attorneys this weekend sifted out hundreds of bills that died after a Friday night deadline, including a ban on human microchipping and curfews for sex offenders .

The Democratic majority exempted some bills from legislative deadlines and is working on them outside of public hearings, including measures to raise minimum wages, increase solar energy credits and access drugmakers' proprietary information. Those bills survived despite inaction.

Here's a look at proposals advancing to a full chamber for a vote:

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POLICE BODY CAMS

Sandoval and lawmakers decided in 2015 to require Nevada Highway Patrol officers to wear body cameras on duty and retain video records for at least 15 days.

Now 21 legislators in the 38-member Democratic majority are uniting behind a bill to put cameras on all law enforcement officers in the state.

Senate Bill 176 would apply to any officers in Nevada who "routinely interact with the public" — from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to contracted town marshals.

The proposal, led by six black lawmakers, comes at a time of national outrage and reckoning over police killings of black men, women and children frequently depicted in videos published by passers-by.

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RENEWABLE ENERGY

More than a dozen bills from both Democrats and Republicans this session aim to secure Nevada's role as a national leader in renewable energy use.

One proposal gaining traction would set up a framework for a few neighbors or hundreds of homes to share energy from solar panels.

With specific requirements to make the program accessible to low-income residents, Democratic sponsors argue Senate Bill 392 would make solar power an option for renters, landlords, people who cannot afford to buy an entire system of solar power generators and homeowners whose roofs are shaded or otherwise unsuitable for panels.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, a Minden Republican and the lone opponent in the bill's first committee vote Friday, said he is concerned it could adversely impact non-participants' utility bills.

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FINANCIAL SECURITY

A proposal making haste in the Senate would order investment advisers and brokerage firms to take on fiduciary duties — requirements to act in their clients' best interests.

Financial planners, or specialized advisers, already must follow those rules in Nevada.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford and consumer advocates say it will protect retirees and other investors from advisers who play risky games with other people's money.

Republican Sens. Heidi Gansert and Joseph Hardy said before the Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy's party-line vote Friday that it is too broad and would be ineffective alongside a federal equivalent.

A similar rule was scheduled to be implemented at the federal level this month.

President Donald Trump delayed its effective date his second week in office.

Under a subsequent U.S. Department of Labor memorandum, the rule will take effect no later than June.

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GAY MARRIAGE

The full Senate will soon vote on a proposal starting the long process of deleting a defunct provision of the state constitution that says Nevada will only recognize "marriage between a male and female person."

A 2015 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in every state.

Assembly Joint Resolution 2 would replace that provision with a brief statement that Nevada will recognize all marriages equally, regardless of gender.

Doing so would ultimately need voter approval.

The earliest the proposal could be placed on Nevada ballots is 2020.

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