Steamy days ahead for Nevada lawmakers

For those of you newly arrived from Texas, Minnesota or Oregon, here’s how the Nevada Legislature works. It meets every other year for exactly 120 days. That’s not much time. And there’s so so much to do. There’s the biennial fight to fund public education, for example, and lawmakers in fisticuffs over collecting/spending the state budget deficit/surplus.

Crazy! You can watch the entertaining antics online. It’s like reality TV. Only real.

The 2007 session starts in February. But it’s important to get a head start.

As of last week, there were 1,079 bill draft requests listed on the Nevada Legislature Web site at Some BDRs have been promoted to pre-filed bits of potential legislation. Pre-filed bills! Sexy!

Sen. Barbara Cegavske’s bill request to prohibit video voyeurism is now Senate Bill 10. It would prohibit “certain acts relating to capturing or distributing an image of the private area of another person under certain circumstances.” If you feel your right to surreptitiously install a Potty Cam in the sorority bathroom is being infringed upon, e-mail the Clark County Republican. Tell her this is America, dammit!

Lawmakers will debate eminent domain this session. For the American Idol-addled readers, eminent domain allows the government to decide it wants your property to do stuff—like build a park or reward a developer who will expand the tax base. The city/state/feds expropriate (take) your house/business/cardboard box and give you what they say it’s worth. You can fight back. Hire an attorney. Sue ’em. Good luck with that.

Sen. Michael Schneider, bless his Democratic soul, offers Senate Bill 2, which would fund public education at or above the national average. Imagine Nevada not being dead last when it comes to funding education! (Naysayers argue that you can’t solve the public education disaster by throwing more resources at it. Do you suppose any of those folks support George W. Bush’s troop “surge” in Iraq?)

Here’s one to make casino owners twitch: New requests for a state constitution amendment to create a lottery to buy textbooks for public schools.

Senate Bill 14 would make it illegal for minors to possess cigarettes. Senate Bill 6 would, if I’m reading right, make a “worser” crime out of selling marijuana in a minor’s presence. Assembly Bill 14 would make it illegal to carry markers and spray paint (aka “graffiti implements") “in certain areas.”

Once again, we’ll watch in amazement as Sen. Maurice Washington, Sparks Republican, attempts to reform public schools by teaching intelligent design (BDR 98), turning principals into chief executive officers (BDR 96) and giving local governments the ability to kick school board trustee ass (BDR 97). (Could sell tickets—and use proceeds to buy textbooks!)

One subcommittee wants a bill that “requires the adoption of regulations concerning the handling and storage of large quantities of mercury in Nevada.” Think our merc-snorting Gov. Jim Gibbons, who wrote the book on the health benefits of quicksilver, will sign that?

Electrifying! Assembly Bill 7, backed by the Assembly Commerce and Labor committee, would force utilities to prove they acted reasonably and prudently in their biz transactions before raising our rates to recoup their stupefying losses. Sierra Pacific, that means you. No more swamp-swapping deals with the likes of Enron.

So many legislators. So many pet projects. Assemblyman Dr. Garn Mabey wants Nevada college students vaccinated against meningococcal disease. Sen. Bob Beers wants to make “English the official language of the State of Nevada.” He’d also like to put guns in the hands of public school teachers.

Damn. Good times ahead. Let the lawmaking resume.