Nevada lawmakers, back to normal pace, to debate affordable housing

Lawmakers are seen in the Legislative Building in Carson City on the first day of the 80th session of the Nevada Legislature Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

CARSON CITY — After a hectic two weeks that saw lawmakers in Carson City pass hundreds of bills, things will return to a more normal pace as the final third of the Legislature’s session gets underway.

When lawmakers get back to work Monday, they’ll have three weeks to get bills heard and voted out of committee before the next deadline. That means, for the most part, that bills approved by the Assembly will now go through hearings in the Senate, and vice versa. Several of those bills were heavily amended before approval, so the hearings could look quite different.

Historically, a few dozen bills die in the second house committee deadline, which is May 17 this year, as lawmakers continue to prune the number of proposals that could become law.

Here’s a look at some of the notable bills that lawmakers will discuss this week:

The Assembly Judiciary Committee will take up Senate Bill 252 in its 9 a.m. hearing to start the week. The bill would allow the Department of Corrections to release inmates 65 and older to house arrest as long as they aren’t on death row or serving a life sentence, were not convicted of a sex crime and have served at least half of their maximum prison term.

SB252 is sponsored by Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City.

It was approved in the Senate by a 19-2 vote, with Reno Republican Sens. Heidi Gansert and Ben Kieckhefer voting against it.

And the Assembly Natural Resources committee will hear Senate Bill 454, which would make it illegal to hunt or harass wildlife with drones. The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate.

This day in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee is all about affordable housing, as lawmakers will hear four bills on the issue in their 8:30 a.m. meeting.

Three of the four bills — Senate Bills 103, 104 and 473 — were unanimously approved by the Senate and would make various changes, such as requiring certain reports to be submitted to the state regarding low-income housing or allowing local governments to reduce or subsidize fees for developers who are looking to build affordable housing.

Senate Bill 398, sponsored by Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Reno, was approved on a 15-6 vote.

This measure would require local governments to use certain money for the development of affordable housing.

Assembly Bill 139, which would raise the legal minimum age to marry in Nevada to 18, gets its second hearing when lawmakers in the Senate Judiciary Committee take up the proposal.

The Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee will hear Senate Bill 276. In its original form, SB276 would have required pharmacy benefit managers, who effectively act as the middlemen in the prescription drug supply chain, to pass on any rebates or discounts they receive from drug manufacturers directly to consumers.

But during a committee hearing in the Senate this month, the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, said that proposal wasn’t ready to move forward yet.

Now, SB276 would require the interim Legislative Commission to form a committee to study the costs of prescription drugs in the state and how those rebates and discounts from manufacturers affect drug prices.

Committee schedules are subject to late-breaking changes. You can view a calendar of upcoming meetings on the Legislature’s website.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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