Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2019

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Immigration, pot testing bills survive deadline; water measure fails

CARSON CITY — With a little over a week left in the Legislature, lawmakers crossed the second house deadline Friday in a marathon session lasting on-and-off from the early afternoon until late into the night.

Many of the bills that had made it to the deadline survived, but a few failed to pass, including a contentious water mitigation bill that opponents said was a precursor to a north-to-south pipeline.

Unless a bill had been marked exempt, Friday evening was the last day it could have been passed out of the second house — meaning if a bill began in the Assembly, it had to pass through the Senate, and vice versa. Bills that passed through both houses will now head to the governor’s desk, where he must act on it within five days or it becomes law without his signature. Some bills filed later in the session, including the governor’s bill creating the Cannabis Compliance Board and a revamp of the school funding formula, are exempt from the standard legislative deadlines.

Here are some of the measures that lived and died in the Legislature’s marathon session.

Alive

Senate Bill 538, Office of New Americans: This bill, sponsored by the Gov. Steve Sisolak, would create the Office of New Americans, which would assist immigrants in areas including business, education and entrepreneurial resources in their communities.

It was one of Sisolak’s policy priorities this session. In a statement after the bill’s introduction, the governor said the office would make the transition to living in Nevada easier for immigrants.

“Each year, so many immigrants decide to pursue economic success in Nevada, and many achieve that success not only for themselves and their families, but for thousands of other Nevadans through the creation of jobs,” the statement read. “Sadly, many immigrants face bureaucratic barriers and a convoluted web of regulations and red tape that can hinder their ability to achieve their full potential.”

Assembly Bill 132, Marijuana and employment: This bill would bar employers from using a positive marijuana drug test to reject a job applicant. If a test is taken within the first 30 days of employment and comes back positive, the employee can take another. 

The bill does not apply to certain professions, such as firefighters or emergency medical technicians.

It also does not apply to the terms of an employment contract, so while a clean drug test cannot be used as a disqualifier for hiring a person, the employer can require the employee to test clean after hiring.

Assembly Bill 376, ICE agreements: This bill, which would have required police departments to annually report how many detainees they turn over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, survived the deadline in a drastically cut-down version.

The bill was shrunk down to only require officers asking questions about immigration status to inform the person why they are asking.

Senate Bill 453, Millennium Scholarship: This bill would raise the grade point average requirement for the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship Program to 2.75 every semester of enrollment.

Currently, during the first year, enrollees must maintain a 2.6 GPA every semester, which then increases to 2.75 for each semester after.

Assembly Bill 139, Underage marriage: This bill, which originally would have set the minimum marriage age to 18, was amended to change the minimum age to 17 with the consent of a parent or guardian and after a district court has found that the minor is a Nevada resident, has a high school diploma and that the marriage is in their best interest.

Issues the court can investigate to determine if the marriage to be in the minor’s best interest include the age gap, the need for the marriage to occur before the minor turns 18 and the maturity of the minor.

Assembly Bill 303, Kratom regulation: This bill would regulate the use of Kratom, a plant originally from Southeast Asia that people use for pain relief.

Multiple states have banned Kratom, but it remains legal at a federal level. This bill would ban the sale of the plant to minors and the sale of Kratom products with additives.

Died

Assembly Bill 30, Water mitigation plans: This bill would have allowed the state engineer’s office to implement 3M plans — monitoring, management and mitigation plans — in cases where a junior water rights holder’s claim interfered with a senior water rights holder.

It was opposed by some Republican lawmakers  and environmental groups, who saw the bill as a step toward a north-to-south water pipeline.

Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, and Patrick Donnelly, state director for the Center for Biological Diversity, issued a joint statement Friday afternoon.

“Environmental and rural water users look forward to engaging productively with DCNR to ensure a sustainable water future for our state,” the statement read.