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November 23, 2014

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Bills on judges, child sex crimes among several to advance

With a Friday deadline looming, Nevada lawmakers continued voting Wednesday on bills that would otherwise die because of an end-of-the-week deadline for action on the measures.

The Assembly voted 29-13 for SJR2, which proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to change the state's system of electing judges.

Under SJR2, judges initially would be appointed to their jobs by a selection committee. To remain on the bench, they'd face retention elections in which they'd have to get at least 55 percent of the vote. If they didn't, a new judicial appointment would be made.

Proponents say the proposed constitutional change, which will be up for a public vote in 2010, would end "mudslinging" now seen in some open judicial races, and give judges more independence since they wouldn't have to worry about the "popularity" of their decisions.

The Senate voted unanimously for an Assembly-approved proposal allowing civil lawsuits when victims of childhood sex crimes learn there's pornography depicting the crimes against them.

AB88 would allow for civil lawsuits and fines up to $150,000. The measure was sought by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

Senate amendments to the bill must be approved by the Assembly before the bill goes to Gov. Jim Gibbons for his signature. As amended, AB88 enables such victims to sue in civil court for money damages independent of any criminal prosecution against perpetrators.

The Senate unanimously passed AB492, requiring firms that get tax abatements to verify they created jobs and benefits for Nevadans. The bill also sets up a permanent Legislative Committee on Taxation and Tax Policy.

The Assembly passed SB415, which sets base rates for public employee retirement benefits and also determines the share of costs for insurance premiums paid by state and local governments. The bill now goes to Gibbons.

The Assembly also passed AB60 which would require state or local health authorities to determine whether a building previously used to manufacture methamphetamine is safe for habitation.

Also advanced by the Assembly was SB227, which requires that personal data that is transmitted electronically be encrypted to prevent identity theft.

The Senate advanced AB146, which would double the business license fee from $100 to $200. As amended, the bill deletes a section that would have added an additional $200 for each additional business location.

The Senate also advanced a bill to create a funding stabilization account for K-12 education. AB458 would decrease abatements offered by redevelopment agencies, economic development zones and the state Economic Development Commission and redirect that money to education.

The Senate unanimously passed AB165, a plan to revamp the state's "rainy day" fund and ensure that more money is set aside in the event of future fiscal crises.

The Senate unanimously passed AB446, to require state agencies to establish "benchmarks" to measure their success and efficiency over time, and publish their results on a Web site. The indicators also would include the state's ranking in relation to other states.

The Nevada Senate unanimously passed AB530, suspending funding to Nevada's K-12 school remediation trust fund. Lawmakers said the change had to be made as part of many budget cuts mandated by the state's recession-spawned revenue shortfall.

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