18 April 2023
Sure, almost 240 bills failed to survive the Legislature’s first committee passage deadline, but let’s break that down a bit more.
Did the Senate or the Assembly pass more bills out of committee? Which lawmakers had the most bills die? Does longevity in office make a difference as far as bill success rates?
Before we get into those questions let’s get some basic information out of the way. Of 941 bills and resolutions that include real policy (i.e. excluding the resolutions that set the rules of the Legislature, provide for the appointment of legislative aides, etc.), 698 survived the deadline. That includes 69 measures that did not pass out of committee but were exempted. And, as we noted earlier, 239 bills died. (Four vetoed bills returned from the 2021 session and were left dead earlier in the session.)
Of the bills that died, 49 percent of them (117 of 239) were Republican-sponsored measures — despite Republican lawmakers putting forward only about half as many bills as their Democratic counterparts, who hold wide majorities in both chambers.
When looking at the two houses, Republican-sponsored measures fared better in the Assembly, passing at a rate of 43 percent compared to a success rate of just 27 percent in the Senate.
Though the 42-member Assembly passed slightly more bills out of committee through April 14 than the 21-member Senate (323 to 303), the two houses passed a similar percentage of all measures introduced in each house (67 percent in the Assembly and 66 percent in the Senate).
Now, if this were an awards show you’d probably want to know who got the most bills passed out of first committees.
Well, we can deliver. On the Senate side, Sen. Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas) wins the prize for getting through the most bills, with 17 of her bills passed out of committee. Sen. Carrie Buck (R-Henderson) had the least success, being the only lawmaker to have no bills passed, batting 0-19. Buck represents a competitive Senate district up in 2024, making it little surprise that Democrats in the majority did not want to give her any policy wins ahead of her re-election bid.
In the Assembly, Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas), the majority floor leader, had the highest number of bills passed, with 10 (incumbent Assembly members are granted 10 bill draft requests, compared with 20 for incumbent senators). Three Republican Assembly members had just one bill passed out of committee, for which they were listed as the primary sponsor: Alexis Hansen (R-Sparks), Danielle Gallant (R-Henderson) and Richard McArthur (R-Las Vegas).
As for links between incumbency and bill success, we saw that Democratic freshman lawmakers performed similarly to more senior members in the majority, with both groups seeing nearly 80 percent of their sponsored bills passed out of committee. But among Republican lawmakers, a group of eight freshmen significantly outperformed 14 incumbent Republicans (41 percent to 33 percent).
Here are some details on high-profile measures that died on Friday:
Medical malpractice caps — Though the Assembly Judiciary Committee did not advance one bill (AB209) seeking to eliminate a cap on so-called “pain and suffering” damages for medical malpractice lawsuits, the issue is far from dead this session. AB404, which would raise the cap from $350,000 to $2.5 million, received a waiver Friday, keeping the measure alive through the session’s deadlines.
Targeting the illicit cannabis market — After a last-minute hearing Friday on an overhauled cannabis bill (SB69) meant to restrict the illicit market and improve relations between regulators and the industry, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor voted to “indefinitely postpone” the measure — a rare parliamentary motion that leaves the bill dead. But with the industry still left hampered by the black market, some ideas from the reworked bill (put together by a working group at the request of Gov. Joe Lombardo) could end up attached to another cannabis bill this session.
Republican-backed election changes — Prior to the session, Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) described any efforts to restrict voting access as a “nonstarter,” and that was evidenced last week by the death of several Republican-backed election measures that never received hearings. That included two bills seeking to implement voter ID (AB88 and SB230) and others, including AB230, that would have moved up deadlines to receive mail ballots, cutting down on the amount of time voters have to submit their ballots. Lombardo’s elections bill (SB405) seeking similar changes is exempt from the deadlines.
Online poker blacklist — AB380, a measure that would have created a list of people with interactive gaming accounts who have been suspended or banned for cheating, didn’t make it through the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Caesars Entertainment, the only company that operates online poker in Nevada, opposed the bill.
Green amendment — AJR3 proposed amending the Nevada Constitution to guarantee Nevadan’s clean air, clean water and healthy soils and ecosystems. Proponents said it was vital for addressing environmental issues from polluted groundwater to microplastics in the environment and hold the government accountable for decisions affecting the state’s natural resources. But a broad coalition of opponents — including labor unions and developers — voiced concerns that the proposed amendment would lead to unending lawsuits and roadblocks to new development.
Rolling back restorative justice — Lawmakers allowed two bills aimed at rolling back a so-called restorative justice measure implemented during the 2021 session to move forward (AB285 and AB330), but killed a third bill (AB194) sponsored by Republican Ira Hansen (R-Sparks). The bills came in reaction to escalating, and at times violent, student behavior.
Republican-backed fentanyl bills — Lawmakers voted out a pair of Democrat-backed bills (SB35 and SB343) aimed at working in tandem to mitigate the opioid overdose crisis by increasing criminal penalties for fentanyl trafficking. But the backing of those two bills means that similar measures introduced by Senate Republicans (SB128 and SB197) that proposed greater penalties and lower thresholds for charging fentanyl-related crimes were killed at the Friday deadline. A separate bill from Lombardo (SB412) that would increase felony penalties for any possession of fentanyl is exempt from deadlines.
Rerouting Tesla tax dollars — Amid the controversy surrounding the $330 million tax abatement package granted to Tesla in March for the company’s planned multibillion-dollar expansion of its Nevada Gigafactory, there were questions from state and local officials in Northern Nevada about the potential infrastructure impacts of another major capital project — including the possibility of further rises in housing costs and worsening traffic. Out of those concerns came SB432, a bill from Sen. Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) in concert with the governor’s office, which sought to redirect tax dollars from the initial 2014 Tesla tax deal away from Storey County to the state and other local governments. Lombardo’s Chief of Staff Ben Kieckhefer said in a press briefing last month that the bill was just a “placeholder” and that the provisions could be applied proactively to future expiring abatements rather than retroactively. But despite being eligible for an exemption, the bill was left to die Friday.
Editor’s Note: This story appears in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2023 legislative session. Sign up for the newsletter here.
This story was corrected on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 8:23 a.m. to fix a typo listing the wrong number of bills that survived the deadline.
The post By the numbers: What bills lived, died after Legislature’s first major deadline appeared first on The Nevada Independent.