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State-and-regional
First batch of bills ahead of 2019 session ramps up sex trafficking penalties, sets stage for remote-control cars

Though the 2019 legislative session is still more than two months away, the first crop of bills have already been pre-filed.

In all, 56 bills — 24 in the Assembly and 32 in the Senate — have been submitted, and they run the gamut. Some are simple or procedural, such as changing the way the Department of Veterans Affairs refers to the armed forces, while others are more complicated, often dealing with long or complex state statutes.

The latest batch is the first of many Nevadans can expect. Typically, there are more than 1,000 bills drafted each session.

Below is a short list of some of the bills that could have an impact once state legislators convene in February.

Assembly

More marijuana licenses: Proposed by the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities, a coalition of 18 towns and cities across the state, AB3 would allow the Department of Taxation to increase the number of marijuana licenses available at the request of city governments, allowing municipalities to sidestep existing limits on the total number of marijuana dispensaries — both medical and recreational — in the state.

The bill would also allow city governments in Clark and Washoe counties to exempt medical dispensaries from tighter single-city limits on the total number of dispensaries. Current law says no single city within a county of more than 100,000 people (e.g. Clark and Washoe) may have more than 25 percent of all dispensaries in that county, barring a separate increase by that county’s commission.

Remote-operated vehicles: Submitted on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles, AB23 would allow the DMV to draw up regulations governing remotely operated vehicles that fall outside the state’s existing definition of autonomous vehicles. These are vehicles that, instead of being driven by an on-board computer or sensors, would be driven from a remote location or are given a planned route to follow.

Though the bill directs the agency to create a number of new regulations for these vehicles, it stops short of filling in those details.

Senate

Sex trafficking penalties: Proposed by the attorney general’s office, SB7 would make the crime of knowingly sex trafficking a child a category A felony, punishable by life in prison and up to $20,000 in fines. Under current law, there is no distinction of “knowingly,” and instead offenders are punished on an increasing scale, going from a category E felony for a first offense (one to four years of prison and up to $5,000 in fines) to a category C felony for a third (one to five years prison and up to $10,000 in fines).

The bill would also add a number of “collateral consequences” to child sex trafficking cases, including allowing victims to sue both those who caused harm or those who profited from that harm in civil court, as well as constituting child sex trafficking as both a crime against a child and a sex crime, so that offenders might be added to the state sex offender registry.

Eliminating statutes of limitations: Also proposed by the attorney general’s office, SB9 would eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes related to or furthering a murder, sexual assault or sex trafficking, as well as raising the limitation on prosecution of sex trafficking crimes from four years to 20. It would also add trafficking to an existing clause for sexual assault that removes prosecution time limitations if a crime is filed in a written police report.

Removing governor appointees: Proposed on behalf of the Hearings Division of the state Department of Administration, SB14 would expand the governor’s ability to remove appointed executive-level board members for misconduct from some boards to all boards by reclassifying these appointees as “civil officers.”

While the governor has the ability to remove some appointees under the executive branch, he can only do so if the appointee is deemed a “civil officer” under the state Constitution. This bill would define all appointees of state boards and commissions as such, giving the governor power to fire them in the event of “misconduct in office, incompetence or neglect of duty.”

Cybersecurity for insurance: Introduced for the Division of Insurance of the Department of Business and Industry, SB21 would enact new cybersecurity regulations for the insurance industry. Among other things, it would require licensed insurance companies in the state to develop a written information security program aimed at protecting “non-public” information on or about their customers — think information such as a Social Security number or financial account numbers. Such a system would have to be in place before a January 2021 deadline.

Collective bargaining for school districts: Submitted on behalf of the Clark County School District, SB26 would lower the percentage of CCSD’s budget that can’t be included when the district is negotiating compensation or monetary benefits. Right now, if an arbitrator or fact finder is trying to assess a school district’s ability to pay its employees, 25 percent of the district’s budget expenditures aren’t subject to those negotiations and can’t be used by that arbitrator to assess the district’s ability to pay what its employees are asking for. Under SB26, that limit would be lowered to 8.3 percent.


Lifestyles
featured
Patrick’s passion

ELKO – Defying age, injury, physical wear and tear — and sometimes ice and snow — one local man continues to pursue physical fitness with fierce perseverance.

“I think I was 38 years old when I ran my first 10K race,” 89-year-old Patrick Porter said.

Although he had been active in his youth, Porter did not take up distance running until after he retired from the Air Force.

He had spent 20 years in the Air Force, first as a dental technician then as a drill sergeant. He and his family lived in France, Bermuda, Texas and Colorado. Porter also studied part-time while he was in the military and received a degree in education. He taught for one year and did other work in the school system. Later he managed a pizza and sandwich shop.

After his first 10K, Porter signed up to run other races. He also ran a number of marathons at 26.2 miles.

“I ran seven in competition,” he said. “My best time was just under three hours. I was 40 when I ran my first marathon.”

Porter loved to run and he was very good at it. In his younger years he would often run 45 miles per week and sometimes topped out at 85. To this day his apartment is adorned with trophies and other running memorabilia.

“My mom used to say he would be grumpy if he couldn’t run for a day or two,” daughter Joyce Morton said.

When he was 62 Porter won every race he entered in his age category. He qualified for the Boston Marathon but was unable to attend.

He ran his last race, 18 miles, was in 2009 when he was 80 years old.

“I finished last, but I finished first,” he said.

Porter was the only one in his age group when he ran that race in Oregon and, therefore, hit the finish line first and last.

He moved to Elko, where he has family, around Thanksgiving of 2009. It was about that time that I began to notice the older man walking all over town, often in a summer cowboy hat. He would walk from his home in the tree streets to Performance Athletic Club, work out, and then walk back.

“I just couldn’t run anymore so I decided to walk across America,” he said. He often covered 10 miles a day and in a year’s time this amounted to about the width of our country.

“I did 3,700 and some miles in a year,” Porter said.

“Some days he went 12 miles a day,” Morton said.

Most of Porter’s walks have been pleasant. However, he was once hit by a car and knocked down on Fifth Street. A lady who saw the accident stopped and helped.

“He had to have some therapy on his knee but there was nothing major,” Morton said. “There were no broken bones.”

Another time Porter got tired and stopped to rest near a pickup truck. The ground was uneven and he fell over and broke his hip. Recovery from that took some time.

“He was in the manor for five weeks,” Morton said. “When we finally got him home he couldn’t even walk down to the end of the block and back.”

Along the journey of life Porter has also bounced back from heart bypass surgery, shoulder surgery, hernia surgery and colon cancer.

But that is all in the past. Now he is back walking four miles a day. Occasionally, he has to cut back if his knee is acting up, but he always makes it out the door to see how far he can go.

He walks the tree streets most mornings after the sun has warmed things up a bit. I often see him striding, never strolling, by my house. Sometimes he walks with family and other times he walks by himself. But, he is never really alone. People in the neighborhood know him and stop to talk. Porter also carries a baggie full of treats and all puppies along his path are happy to see him.

I asked Porter what motivates him to keep on trucking.

“The Lord helps me,” he said. “I am a believing Christian and I depend on the Lord. As long as God gives me the strength to do it I will do it until He says it’s enough.”


Local
top story
Winter is coming for the holiday weekend

ELKO – Thanksgiving travel could be hazardous in parts of northeastern Nevada as valley snow arrives for the holiday.

Travel impacts should be minimal on Thursday but worsen on Friday, the National Weather Service reported in a hazardous weather outlook.

Any valley accumulations are expected to quickly melt as temperatures warm above freezing on Thursday. Another system expected to move in Thursday night could drop 1-3 inches, with higher amounts in the mountains.

A strong cold front approaching the state on Friday will bring gusty winds and significant mountain snowfall with possible blowing snow. Precipitation is expected to start out as rain in the valleys, with snow levels of around 6,500 feet, but will drop to the valley floors Friday night.

“Valley accumulations look at this time to be a half inch to 2 inches, with 6 to 12 inches possible in the Rubies and the higher elevations of northern Elko County,” stated the advisory. “Wet roads in the valleys from Friday’s rain may freeze, causing slick and hazardous roads Friday night.”

A slight chance of snow is possible Saturday and Sunday but hazardous impacts are not anticipated.


State-and-regional
Nevada's ballot questions: What's next?

LAS VEGAS (AP) — State officials have started working to implement an automatic voter registration law and other ballot initiatives passed by voters earlier this month.

Nevada voters rejected a ballot measure to break up a monopoly by the state’s electric utility but approved four other initiatives. A fifth ballot initiative to increase the amount of power that Nevada gets from renewable energy sources needs to be approved by voters a second time in 2020 in order to take effect.

Here’s a look at next steps for the five initiatives that passed:

Question 1

A victims’ bill of rights initiative aims to make it easier for crime victims to be notified when a suspect in their case is released on bail. It also prioritizes victim restitution over other fines and forfeitures. Nevada Department of Corrections victims services coordinator Jennifer Rey told the Las Vegas Sun that the ballot measure did not detail how the changes should take place but an ongoing study from a state justice commission and the Massachusetts-based Crime and Justice Institute is expected to help lay out next steps. Rey says an existing state victim notification system is an opt-in program and would be too expensive to open it for use by all victims across Nevada.

Question 2

Voters opted to repeal the so-called “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products, treating them like other necessities that aren’t subject to sales tax like groceries and prescription drugs. Starting in January, women will no longer pay sales taxes on tampons, sanitary pads and more, according to Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein. She said the state is notifying businesses.

Question 4

Similar to the “pink tax,” Nevada voters also opted to exempt medical equipment such as blood sugar monitors, crutches and oxygen equipment from taxes. But unlike Question 2, this initiative requires a change to the state Constitution. Klapstein said the governor and Legislature will have to make the change when they meet in 2019.

Question 5

Nevada voters approved a so-called “motor voter” law that automatically registers eligible people to vote when they apply for a driver’s license or state ID card. The measure also calls for voter rolls to be automatically updated when someone renews their license or updates their information with the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s office and the DMV say they’re meeting to figure out how to adapt to the new system. The DMV is in the midst of a five-year technology upgrade so officials are working to see how they can incorporate the new law.

Question 6

Voters opted to require that at least 50 percent of Nevada’s electricity come from renewable resources like solar, up from a current requirement to reach 25 percent by 2025. The initiative needs to be approved by voters again in 2020 in order to become law. Backers say that rather than wait for 2020, they’d like to see the Legislature take steps to pass the requirement itself next year. Electric utility NV Energy says it currently uses renewables for about 23.8 percent of the energy sold and is working to double that by 2023.


Local
Elko Daily Free Press office closed Friday

The Elko Daily Free Press office will be closed Friday for the thanksgiving holiday weekend.