By SANDRA CHEREB
The Associated Press
CARSON CITY -- Washington politics is front and center in Nevada's capital as the third week of the Nevada Legislature begins Monday.
Here are five highlights of the legislative agenda for the upcoming week:
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will address a joint session of the Legislature in a speech Wednesday night in the Assembly Chamber. All members of Nevada's congressional delegation traditionally speak to lawmakers when the Legislature is in session every two years. In 2011, Reid raised eyebrows and generated snickers in the gallery when he said it was time Nevada abolish its tolerance of legal prostitution in rural counties. There's no word yet on what the Democratic leader will talk about this time.
Reid's presence isn't the only fed-related topic on this week's agenda. On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections considers Senate Joint Resolution 9, which seeks to assert Nevada's sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The resolution is sponsored by state Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden. Later that day, representatives of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will brief a joint meeting of the Senate and Assembly natural resource panels on their operations in the Silver State. Considering the federal government owns roughly 85 percent of land in Nevada, federal managers are often met with scowls, especially from rural lawmakers.
Gov. Brian Sandoval has made Nevada's push into online gambling a priority of his administration. In his State of the State address, he called on lawmakers to present him a bill within 30 days authorizing Nevada to set up compacts with other states to offer Internet poker. That bill was introduced this past week, and Assembly Bill 114 will be considered Thursday during a joint meeting of the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees. But the bill, sponsored by Democratic Assembly Majority Leader William Horne and others, contains a surprise the governor opposes: a doubling of the licensing fee to operate online gambling operations to $1 million from $500,000.
Assembly Taxation on Tuesday will consider Assembly Bill 46, a bill sought by the Washoe County School District to raise funds for capital improvement projects. It would impose a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax rate and raise property taxes by 5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Existing law generally caps property taxes to no more than $3.64 per $100 of valuation. If passed, the bill would exempt the new school project levies from that limit.
President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. On Thursday, the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee will consider Senate Joint Resolution 2. Sponsored by Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, the resolution calls for the repeal of a constitutional amendment requiring employers who don't provide health benefits to pay $1 per hour more than those who do under Nevada's minimum wage law. Nevada's current minimum wage is $8.25 for workers who do not receive benefits. A similar measure failed in the 2011 session. For Hardy's measure to succeed, it would have to be approved by the Legislature this year and again in 2015. Voters would then have the last say at the 2016 ballot box.
The cost of some public records would drop to a dime from a buck under Senate Bill 74 to be considered Wednesday by the Senate Government Affairs Committee. The bill sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, would set the cost of copies at law libraries at 10 cents, and require that minutes and audio recordings of government bodies be made available to the public at no charge. It would also reduce fees charged for records by county governments from $1 per page to 10 cents.
Nevada's two largest counties - Clark and Washoe - would get a break at the expense of newspaper companies under another measure to be considered Thursday by the Assembly Taxation Committee. Assembly Bill 75 would allow those counties to publish required property tax rolls on the Internet instead of newsprint.