Bills to watch as new deadlines approach

All shenanigans all the time:

As the smoke clears from the first big deadline, and the Legislature lurches towards the next one, keep your attention focused on some deserving bills that could make a difference for years to come.

SB 457: Ward Voting. It seems so simple but yet the idea of complying with the Voting Rights Act and allowing voters in “wards” to elect their own city councilperson has been derailed several times in recent years. The Republicans strongly prefer the present system, despite the clear violation of the Voting Rights Act, and Gov. Brian Sandoval used a technicality to veto the 2011 version of the bill. 2013 could be the year the Legislature makes cities respect the federal law and allows citizens in Carson City, Reno, Sparks and Henderson to elect their own representatives, by neighborhood.

SB 203: Year-Round Reporting of Lobbyist Expenditures. There is so much wrong with Nevada’s system of reporting campaign contributions and “gifts,” it’s hard to know where to start cleaning things up. Requiring lobbyists to report their direct expenditures on legislators every month of the year, not just during the four months of the legislative session, is a small but important step. The bill passed the Senate 21-0 this session, just as it did in 2011. Will the Assembly once again do the dirty deed and kill the bill or will legislators feel the pressure and stop the corruption?

SB 213: Trapping. Hunters have long held sway in Carson City, even infiltrating conservation groups to promote their sport with the argument that they contribute to habitat preservation through hunting fees to ensure they have animals to kill for sport so they should get whatever they want. But the gritty recreational activity of trapping is often more about selling pelts and collecting bounties than true sport, especially since animals really don’t have much of a chance and often are badly wounded and endure torture for days on end.

What’s changed in Nevada is the grassroots organizing of animal lovers, especially those who enjoy hiking with their dogs off leash in wide open spaces and react vehemently when their dog—or increasingly, a small child—is caught in a hidden trap. This bill reactivates trap registration and forces the Wildlife Commission to negotiate timeframes for trap visitation.

AB 230: Comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education seems like an obvious strategy in a state that consistently ranks high in the teen pregnancy sweepstakes, but the far-right wing of the Republican party sees it as a shield for Planned Parenthood’s “real” agenda: promoting homosexuality and abortion. Will the state Senate be able to hold to a party-line vote and pass the measure or will the religious right peel off some Mormon Democrats and defeat the bill? This one may go to the wire.

AB 284: Domestic violence victims and their leases. Many victims, the majority of them women, don’t leave a dangerous home because they are afraid to break a lease and face potentially serious legal and financial consequences. This bill requires a tenant to provide a landlord with written 30 days’ notice of early termination along with appropriate documentation of domestic violence, such as a court-issued protective order, police report, or affidavit from a third party. Eleven Assembly members thought the bill went too far and voted against it, despite Nevada’s horrific first-in-the-nation ranking of women killed by men.

As for SB 49, the Secretary of State’s valiant attempt to enact comprehensive reform, when you’re arguing about whether legislators should be able to use campaign funds to purchase clothing suitable for legislative meetings, and you lose the argument, it’s time to pull the bill and work on a better strategy for 2015.

Speak out and let your representative know how you feel at