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February 1, 2015

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Legislature passes other bills in shadow of budget

Mike McGinness

Mike McGinness

CARSON CITY — The focus of the 2011 Legislature has been on money, or the lack of it.

Other issues, however have made news: use of cellphones while driving, smoking in taverns, homeowner associations and the protection of transgender people.

The state intends to reduce the rate of interest it pays businesses on the overcollection or illegal collection of taxes from 6 percent to 3 percent. But interest charged by the state on late payments will be lowered from 1 percent to 0.75 percent.

In its final days, the Legislature is putting finishing touches on many bills that would affect average Nevadans. But some might not survive before the Legislature adjourns Monday.

“They won’t be able to drive with their cellphones,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. “That hits home the most.”

The bill bans motorists from texting or talking while holding a cellphone. It goes into effect in January, when that infraction will become a misdemeanor. In the meantime, law enforcement officers can issue warnings.

Not resolved is the debate over altering the anti-smoking law so food can be served in taverns where smoking is allowed.

Legislation was passed to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment and public accommodations. “This is very important to a certain segment of our society,” said Sen. Dave Parks, D-Las Vegas. He estimated the transgender population in Nevada at as many as 25,000.

Parks shared an email from a Las Vegas resident who said the laws will help people lead normal lives.

Legislation was also passed to allow gambling in hotel rooms. Lee Amaitis, president of Cantor Gaming in Las Vegas, said surveys have shown the No. 1 location where customers want to use mobile gaming devices is in their rooms.

“Considering the current world of on-demand technology, this was not a surprise,” he said.

Members of homeowner associations gained additional rights such as permission to inspect association books being given notice of board of directors meetings.

A tussle continues over whether interest should be capped on homeowners who are late paying fees.

Lawmakers are working on a bill to help restore wildlife habitats. Fees of $3 on hunting, trapping and fishing licenses would increase to $5 for residents and $10 for nonresidents. Gov. Brian Sandoval is against increasing fees.

Budget decisions will trickle down to classrooms, such as increasing their numbers of students. In Clark County, there will be fewer specialists including facilitators in special education, English as a second language, computer strategy and literary courses.

Joyce Haldeman, associate superintendent of the Clark County School District, said specialties may be reduced 25 percent and foreign language courses may be eliminated in some schools.

Session 2011 bills may also affect the future.

One measure would allow fees to be charged for new privately financed roads. The bill is aimed at allowing private funding to be collected to build a bypass around Boulder City that supporters say could result in 14,000 jobs.

CORRECTION: This story had incorrectly attributed a comment to state Sen. Elizabeth Halseth. | (June 4, 2011)

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  1. "They won't be able to drive with their cellphones," said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. "That hits home the most."

    It's a shame we have to pass laws to protect the public from dangerous, distracted drivers. And, enforcing the "No Texting" portion of the law is neigh on impossible. I was reading about another state that has the no texting law on the books already, and ran a "saturation patrol" to nab "texters"...
    The ensuing hilarity is Keystone Cops stuff. A "spotter", trying to ascertain which drivers are texting, radios the offending vehicle I.D. down to patrol cars waiting to pounce on offenders... "I think they're texting; hell, I don't know... maybe they're fiddling with their...wait...I see something...ah, man, I can't TELL. There! Take the red Camaro! "Officer, I was so NOT TEXTING. Here's my X-phone. See for yourself." Officer takes phone, which is one of a THOUSAND different models, and more hilarity ensues as Officer attempts to decipher the technology.
    And proving T.W.D. in a COURT OF LAW is going to be a Prosecutor's nightmare and a Defense Lawyer's DREAM.

    Studies have shown texting to be on par with, or more dangerous than DRUNK DRIVING. Logic alone should tell us it's absolute folly.
    The inherent dangers of talking on your beloved tech-toy while motoring about is a little trickier to explain to folks, because nearly EVERYBODY thinks, "I can do it just fine; it's the other moron's that have a problem with it."
    The problem is with YOUR BRAIN trying to MULTI-TASK;

    Bottom line:
    It will now be illegal to do what you shouldn't have been doing in the first place.
    For those that scream that "We already have a law on the books! It's called INATTENTIVE/CARELESS DRIVING!"...I say,
    The general public needs Cell phone use to be SPECIFICALLY ADDRESSED by Traffic Law, because drivers refuse to acknowledge that THEY ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM, or that there even IS a problem. In Las Vegas, people have psychological issues that revolve around their relationship with their communication devices... "must call. must text. must check email. must look like I'm busy here. must tweet. must check for the hundredth time to see if Jen has called. must show off my expensive new toy. must look cool."
    That's okay if you are at the Mall, and walk right into a fountain and fall in. NOT OKAY if you are driving, veer into oncoming traffic, and kill or maim innocent people.

    Driving is a privilege, not a RIGHT.
    Abusing the privilege by endangering your fellow travelers by texting/talking on your phone will now be a marginally punishable violation of law. GOOD.

    Look at it this way;
    You won't get Cancer of the BRAIN as fast.
    I would encourage those who will pooh-pooh this latest medical report to enjoy HOURS UPON HOURS of uninterupted cell phone use from the comfort & privacy of their own homes.

    HANG UP & DRIVE!!!

  2. Will this law allow insurance companies to deny coverage if an accident can be proven to have occurred while a cell phone was in use by the driver? That would be good.

  3. This OBSESSION WITH CELLPHONES in our society even affects elementary school children. Can families afford cellphones for each child, yet not afford meals (students are on Free/reduced lunch)? Schools are secure places, with phones available, should a child have a need to contact their parent. (Although not all children will be appropriate of its use---it's a trust issue and judgement call).

    It is sad that we are forced to legislate laws to dictate appropriate behaviors, that should be common sense, and promoted as socially acceptable.

    On top of being a hazard in vehicles, texting has become a national disaster for the written language, spelling, and correct punctuation! Years worth of language arts skills and phonics has literally been lost due to texting! Employers will be hard put to find individuals who know how to write a correct sentence, let alone paragraph for business correspondence and reports. It is an absolute shame.

    But good for the Nevada LAWMAKERS on dialing in on cellphones and text messaging. Great call!

  4. Yakking on the phone, tweeting, texting and more are signs of a sick society. Does anyone really care that you are at the mall?

    I understand texting if your in a meeting and need to receive or send some pertinent and important informations, etc. Unfortunately some folks think anything they say is important enough to disturb or risk the safety of others.

    Contractors and commercial truckers have become some of the worst. We understand the need to stay in touch with supervisors, dispatchers, customers, etc. but not in a manner that endangers the public.

    A few days ago, I stopped at a traffic signal in the outside turn lane and a semi stopped inside of me. The driver was on the phone as he rolled up and when the light changed he continued to talk while steering with one hand thought the entire turn which was wide forcing me into the medianHe likely would have run over my wife had I not been able to swerve out of his way. He not only noticed and didn't care, he gestured when I beeped.

    Today I saw a young woman rear end a car stopped at an intersection on Craig because she couldn't stop in time... guess why? To my surprise, she never put the phone down, just kept on talking when she got out of the car, never checking to see if the occupants of the stopped vehicle she struck were injured or even say she was sorry. She ignored the other driver when he got out and acted agitated when he spoke to her. With any luck she will be cited and punished.

    Maybe waiting until January isn't the best idea, and maybe stiffer penalties that quickly escalate for subsequent offenses is in line with the severity of this growing problem. Apparently in addition to a lack of common courtesy, we have a generation or two of folks with no common sense or personal responsibility either.

  5. If you are sitting at home near a phone or cell, and are interested in communicating to your LAWMAKERS regarding pending legislation, here is something just messaged (online, at home)to me from Angie, in reference to MINING TAX REFORMS:
    Tell Assembly Leadership that mining revenue reform is a MUST!

    Pass SJR 15 (which has been languishing in the Assembly), removing the 5% Constitutional cap on the mining tax, and SB 493*, creating a mining oversight commission and tightening up mining's tax breaks.

    John Oceguera (775) 684-8595
    Marcus Conklin (775) 684-8505
    Debbie Smith (775) 684-8841

    *Expected to be voted out of the Senate today, June 4th!