Early thoughts on BDRs for 2013 session

Geoffrey Lawrence

I’ve been reviewing the list of bill draft requests made by lawmakers for the 2013 legislative session. While there isn’t much information available about the specifics of any particular bill draft request (legislative staff only lists the topic for each BDR), there are a few that look familiar. I thought I’d offer a few quick highlights:

1. John Hambrick will re-introduce a bill encoding the Castle Doctrine into Nevada law. Here’s a great position paper on the topic from the Cato Institute.

2. Sheila Leslie plans to re-introduce her bill requiring reports of lobbying expenditures between legislative sessions. This was a government transparency bill that was killed in committee last session by one of the most prolific beneficiaries of unreported lobbyist spending-William Horne. Horne was at the center of the PokerStars scandal, having accepted a free trip to London that he never reported.

3. As if on cue, William Horne again has requested legislation that “revises provisions governing interactive gaming” and another one that “revises provisions related to gaming.” I wonder if one of these is that bill from last session that was written by the PokerStars lobbyists…

4. Barbara Cegavske wants to remove the Blaine Amendment from the state constitution-a provision that arguably creates a barrier for school vouchers. While this might be a positive step, this proposal comes up every session and never goes anywhere. Plus, amending the state constitution takes about five years even if there’s full support and Nevada’s schoolchildren need help now. That’s why I’ve always seen the education tax credit proposal from NPRI/Cato as the superior route to school choice.

5. The Assembly Judiciary Committee and Tick Segerblom both want to revise “provisions relating to the medical use of marijuana.” Meanwhile, Steven Brooks wants to change the rules for “dispensing of marijuana used for medical purposes.” I wonder if the legislature will finally get around to addressing that voter-approved constitutional amendment…

6. Pat Hickey wants to extend the Open Meetings Law to the legislature. He must have read NPRI’s legislative reviews.

7. Harvey Munford wants pass a special excise tax on fast food. Perhaps he’s plotting a run for mayor of New York City…

8. John Ellison wants to change “provisions governing contracts for services entered into by certain public employers.” I wonder if this has to do with that recent audit that revealed much of the contract work by current or former employees was fraudulent and/or overpriced?

9. Debbie Smith wants to expand the system of full-day kindergarten. The program should already be considered an unaffordable luxury given that it fails to contribute toward lasting student achievement, according to all the research. While it produces temporary gains, those gains disappear by the end of the third grade. It would make more sense to use that money identifying the best teachers, paying them WELL, and packing as many students as possible into their classes. Research shows no school-controlled variable has a greater impact on student achievement than the quality of the teacher-a great teacher can improve a child’s life forever while an under-performing teacher can handicap a child for years.

10. Richard Carillo wants to prohibit “participation in an organized retail theft ring.” Somehow, I have a hard time believing this isn’t already covered.

11. Ira Hansen wants to require “the creation and maintenance of contingency plans by state agencies for loss of federal revenue.” Again, why wasn’t this already in existence? On a related note, this bill may portend well for a return of federal lands to Nevada.

12. Ben Kieckhefer wants to revise “provisions relating to the funding of public construction projects”…I smell prevailing wage reform!

13. Does anyone else find it ironic that right below Joe Hogan’s name is a request by the Senate Committee on Transportation to revise “provisions relating to driving under the influence?” Hogan was arrested earlier this year on DUI charges.

14. Maggie Carlton wants to enact the “State Buy American Act.” She may as well call it the “Mercantilist Act” and start burning copies of Wealth of Nations.

15. Randy Kirner is proposing changes to PERS. Hopefully, it’s something along the lines of Utah’s hybrid system, as proposed recently by NPRI.

16. The Legislative Committee on Education wants to create a K-12 Public Education Stabilization Account…like a “rainy day” fund…which already exists…

17. The Legislative Committee on Public Lands is asking lawmakers to urge “Congress to take certain actions concerning federal public lands in Nevada.” Could this be it?!

18. Another one for the category of “why doesn’t this exist already?”…the Assembly Taxation Committee is asking that a report of tax expenditures be submitted to the governor and the legislature.

19. North Las Vegas may finally get its wishes with a bill that would change the formula for C-tax distributions.

20. The Taxation Department wants to make “various changes to provisions governing collective bargaining.” You know…in case they have to assume management of North Las Vegas.

21. Michael Roberson wants greater oversight over the Southern Nevada Water Authority. I wonder if he was inspired by that recent rate hike.

22. Both the Assembly Committee on Education and Michael Roberson want to enact “parent trigger.” I prefer to call it “parents to the rescue.” If it was tweaked to include an educational savings account option for parents, it would be perfect.

23. As an appropriate way of capping off this long list, Lynn Stewart would like to limit the number of bill drafts requested by lawmakers. That’d certainly make things less confusing.

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.