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April 24, 2014

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From cell phones to smoking, 6 bills that could affect you

CARSON CITY — In Carson City, they talk of budgets in billions — with a b — and the long-range effect of policy as if bills were fluttering butterfly wings in Indonesia capable of creating hurricanes off the Florida coast.

They set spending levels for K-12 schools, colleges and universities and social programs such as welfare. They also write and revamp laws that affect more mundane aspects of life — staffing at the DMV, rules of the road or how to shop for a hospital. Here are six bills passed by the 2011 Legislature that might affect you:

    • Cell phone enforcement
      Photo by Drew Perine/AP

      1. Cellphones and driving

      Nevada roads might be safer, but a little less free. Talking on a handheld cellphone while driving and texting while driving will be illegal if Gov. Brian Sandoval signs Senate Bill 140.

      Officers will be giving out warnings until Jan. 1. After that, the fine is $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $250 for the third offense within seven years.

      You can still talk on the phone if you have a hands-free device. (The law, thankfully, allows you to use your hands to “activate, deactivate or initiate a feature or function on the device.”) Those who don’t like the bill can console themselves by buying stock in RadioShack, which is sure to sell a lot of earpieces in the coming months.

    • Smoking

      2. Smoking in bars

      If the cellphone ban was a blow to Nevada’s libertarian image, Assembly Bill 571 more than makes up for it. It will now be legal to smoke and eat in 21-and-over establishments despite voters’ wishes.

      The bill changed a voter-approved ban on locations serving food and allowing smoking.

      In a clever bit of framing, so-called “smoking bill” advocates tried to rebrand it as the “cheeseburger bill.” Instead, locations that only admit those over 21 will be allowed to serve food and allow smoking if they choose. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

    • Boulder City Traffic
      Photo by Justin M. Bowen

      3. Boulder City toll road

      Boulder City — a nice place to live, maybe not the nicest place to drive. To get around the traffic backup in Boulder City that has plagued the town since the new bridge to Arizona opened, Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, got legislative approval for a toll road pilot project that would route nonlocal traffic around the town. Sandoval is expected to sign the bill.

      The bypass would cost $400 million, and be privately financed. And no charge could be placed on existing roads. The bill though requires the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada to enter into an agreement for the design, planning and construction. The toll road would connect the area in the vicinity of U.S. 93/95 Mile Post 58 to U.S. 93 Mile Post 2.

    • Taxis - For File Only
      Photo by Sam Morris

      4. $3 cab fee cemented in law

      If you use cabs and credit/debit cards in Las Vegas it’ll continue to cost you more.

      Cab companies in Southern Nevada quietly began assessing a $3 fee each time a passenger swiped a credit card to pay a fare. It’s a rate that some lawmakers and credit card companies say is too high.

      It also might not have been explicitly allowed in law. One cab company, Frias Transportation, fought to get the fee put into state law. The bill passed despite objections.

    • University of Illinois Medical Center
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      5. Do No Harm

      Patients will be able to compare hospitals and medical facilities’ safety records by looking at data the facilities have to report to the state. The Nevada Health and Human Services Department will establish a website to compare rates of infections, preventable accidents and other so-called “sentinel events.”

      Sandoval has signed one bill that would make data available. Other bills that would present even more information — such as how often patients are readmitted to hospitals — await his signature.

    • 6. Campaign finance law

      Maybe you think campaign finance law only matters if you’re a gadfly. But much legislation can be tied back to one powerful source — campaign contributions.

      Until this session, Nevada’s system has been opaque, regularly receiving an F from national watchdog groups. But Assembly Bill 452, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, would change that. Lawmakers would have to file campaign expenses and contributions electronically with the secretary of state’s office. That, according to a spokeswoman, would allow people to sort campaign contributions by donor and amount, providing greater transparency to everything the Legislature does, from taxi fees to hospital regulations.

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    1. Homeboy,
      It's too bad that Nevaduhn's REQUIRE a Nanny.
      If people had a lick of sense, and weren't so lost in their own little private Idaho's and therefore inimical to Public Safety, Society wouldn't find it necessary to pass laws that say, "Hey NITWIT! You are INCAPABLE of driving and talking/texting/web surfing on your phone at the same time. Don't fret; you are not alone! Scientific studies have proven that YOUR BRAIN is not wired to be able to multitask in such a fashion. HANG UP & DRIVE!"

    2. Any bill to liberalize smoking is irresponsible and self defeating. It runs contrary to voter mandate. It will also be subject to counter measures and lawsuits, issues of worker safety, and non smokers rights. Increasing the risk of respiratory illness and the cost of health care to accommodate smokers is foolish and will eventually be overruled. Nevada needs to join the modern world.

    3. @wizardofOz...

      "ONLY POLITICAL IDIOTS WOULD WRITE AND THEN AGREE TO LAW(S) CLAMPING DOWN ON CELLPHONES WHICH CAUSE NO INHERENT SAFETY ISSUES ON THE ROAD"...

      Gee, WIZ!!!
      Where do you get your information from, Wiz? The Tin Man???

    4. I'm sorry to have disparaged the Tin Man...
      It's actually the Scarecrow that Wiz gleans his data from.

    5. "It will now be legal to smoke and eat in 21-and-over establishments despite voters' wishes."

      "Any bill to liberalize smoking is irresponsible and self defeating. It runs contrary to voter mandate."

      oldPSUguy -- this is not a democracy, this is a republic. That means when the voters approve a law, no matter what kind of majority, if it's unConstitutional it's not really law. So regardless of your opinion not all of us are subject to the tyranny of the herd.

      "Bans on public smoking aren't an infringement only on the rights of smokers, they're an infringement on the rights of property owners. If I invest my own money or risk my own financial security by taking out a loan to start up a pub or restaurant, I ought to be able to serve my customers on my own terms. And my customers and employees ought to be free to make their own decisions about the risks they're willing to undertake in exchange for service or employment. . . Smoking bans tend to have a minimal effect on large and chain restaurants. But when it comes to smaller, more independent businesses -- pubs, diners, bowling alleys and the like -- bans can be devastating. " -- Radley Balko's article in the Washington Examiner, February 16, 2005.

    6. "oldPSUguy -- this is not a democracy, this is a republic. That means when the voters approve a law, no matter what kind of majority, if it's unConstitutional it's not really law"

      Public health is not a matter of rule of the majority per se. In fact it may be representative of minority rights, the rights of those who have health issues concerning smoke exposure in public places. Smokers have taken to trying to use the Constitution to defend their right to expose others to their smoke. They have managed to gain a temporary victory in this legal battle, but eventually they will be overruled. The rights of smokers, and business people who think they can cater to the public, and still avoid be taken to task for smoke exposure will eventually lose, it is just a matter of time.

    7. "EVERY BUSINESS SERVES THE PUBLIC AT THE BEHEST OF THE PUBLIC."

      wizardofOz -- you get that from where? So long as your "public" is the actual customers of "every business" then there's no disagreement on that point. It's common sense business/commerce is driven by, among other factors, offering what their patrons want. LVFAIRFAX and moogie's posts got it right -- it's about choice.

      But the rest of your post doesn't support that point, especially with your "Only the radical tobacco lobby keeps cancerous smoking alive and well." You're disconnected from reality if that's what you really think -- since at least the 60s popular electric advertising has been outlawed, dire warnings forced on every pack, and millions to local anti-tobacco campaigns have blared how bad using that natural product is, yet people continue to smoke, chew and sniff it. Especially when you consider it's been smoked since the beginning of recorded history, you're a long way from being truthful here.

      "And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke." -- Rudyard Kipling "The Betrothed"