Posts Tagged ‘legislation’

Heller Welcomes Cooperation from House Democrats on Supercommittee Transparency

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:43 pm September 23rd, 2011

Senator Dean Heller is glad to have help from some Dems when it comes to beating the transparency drum.

As I noted in an earlier post today, Heller introduced a supercommittee transparency bill about a month before this new measure sponsored by some House Dems showed up.

“Senator Heller welcomes all efforts to stop the Super Committee from meeting in secret,” said spokesperson Stuart Bybee. “This latest bill is further proof that there is bipartisan concern over this committee’s deliberations and which special interests are influencing the process.”

Redwood National Park / http://www.nps.gov/redw/

The committee has been granted tremendous political power in its mission to find more than $1.2 trillion in cuts from the federal budget before year end. As such, members are naturally being schmoozed by lobbyists who want to keep their pet projects safe.

Lawmakers of both parties along with sunlight and transparency advocacy groups are now calling on the committee to meet in public and disclose all meetings with lobbyists. The House bill would require the supercommittee to:

– Stream meetings live on television and on the web;

– Disclose on-line all meetings with lobbyists and special interests within 48 hours;

– Disclose on-line any contributions to their campaign committees or leadership PACs made by registered lobbyists or special interests, as well as all contributions exceeding $500 in general, within 48 hours; and

– Publish recommendations and proposed legislation on-line 72 hours before any vote occurs.

 

 

[Update]: Background Check Exemption Status for CCW Holders Granted by ATF

By Anne Knowles | 11:46 am August 26th, 2011

Update: Shortly after this story posted, the ATF published an open letter to Nevada gun owners granting the exemption in question.

Thanks to a letter written by a concerned citizen, Nevada owners of a concealed weapons (CCW) permit may soon be able to purchase more firearms without further background checks and the associated $25 fee.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE, also commonly referred to as ATF) is reviewing legislation passed this last session to determine if Nevada again qualifies for an exemption from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check. If the legislation meets BATFE requirements, the federal agency will issue an open letter to Nevada federal firearms licensees, or dealers, informing them a CCW permit will now suffice for firearm purchases.

For Nevada gun owners, that means they will forego additional background checks and the associated $25 fee charged by the state, as long as they can produce a valid CCW permit when purchasing a firearm.

A BATFE spokeswoman confirmed that the agency is reviewing the Nevada law, but could not say if or when the exemption would be granted.

“All we’re trying to do is talk to the ATF and make sure they have everything they need,” said Frank Adams, executive director of the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association (NSCA) in Mesquite. “We’re expecting an answer shortly. I don’t have a crystal ball.”

The NSCA initially said it would contact BATFE via a formal letter, but at its July meeting the group opted to delay action until its September meeting at the request of the sheriffs of Clark and Washoe counties, said Adams.

“They wanted to study the impact because they anticipate a huge influx of new applications,” he said.

Adams said both counties have suffered tremendous budget cuts.
“We may have to go back to the counties and ask for more money,” he said, to cover the costs of new permit applications. “The fees we collect don’t cover the whole cost. They have to be fiscally concerned. It’s a privileged license being supplemented by taxpayer dollars.”

In the meantime, a private citizen associated with the Stillwater Firearms Association, a Fallon-based advocacy group, sent a letter to the ATF, which contacted him to say it was reviewing the new law passed by the state, according to J.L. Rhodes, legislative action committee chairman for the association.

“They called to say thank you,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes said he called the Nevada Department of Public Safety to see what the holdup was on contacting the ATF to trigger a review and was told that the ATF was already taking action based on the private citizen’s letter.

“It was left up to an individual to send the letter,” said Carrie Herbertson, state liaison for the National Rifle Association, who said the NSCA dragged its feet on the matter. “That’s one powerful letter.”

Nevada lost its exemption from the NICS checks in 2008 when it failed to pass legislation that would have brought the state into compliance. An earlier audit by the BATFE showed that not all of the state’s sheriff offices were conducting proper background checks and that state law did not require the checks on permit renewals.

In 2005, the state’s 17 sheriffs’ offices signed a Memorandum of Understanding saying they would comply with BATFE requirements until legislation could be enacted in the 2007 legislative session, allowing the state to hang onto its exemption until then.

The Nevada legislature, though, failed to pass the needed legislation in 2007 so, in 2008, the BATFE said the state no longer qualified for the exemption.

Since then, CCW permit holders have had to go through a background check for each firearm purchase and, because Nevada acted as a point of contact (POC) and used the state’s criminal records database, had to pay a $25 fee. Background checks conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for states that opt not to be POCs are free.

No action was taken during the 2009 legislative, but this past session Assembly Bill 282 passed. The bill includes the language making the process for initial applications and renewals the same and is expected to satisfy the BATFE’s rules for exemption from the NICS checks. The only thing left is for the BATFE to review the bill, give its stamp of approval and inform dealers that they can now accept CCW permits as an alternative to NICS checks.

But the granting of the NICS exemption may not be the end of the issue. According to the NRA’s Herbertson, at least one Nevada state legislator is looking into why the state charges a $25 fee for the check it will be required to do on initial applications and 5-year renewals even with the exemption.

“The $25 fee is absurd,” said Herbertson, who says that many other so-called POC states charge less. She said she believed the charges for the NICS checks were $2 in Virginia, $7.50 in Utah and $10.50 in Oregon, for example.

Nevada is one of 21 states that act as a POC, according to the BATFE web site. In the rest of the states, dealers go through the FBI for free checks. Herbertson said several states are now trying to back out of their POC status, but this year only Delaware was successful in dropping it.


Transparency Bills Hit Governor’s Desk

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:52 pm June 6th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada may finally see greater transparency and accountability in election campaigns due to three landmark bills that arrived on Gov. Sandoval’s desk this week.

Secretary of State Ross Miller unsuccessfully championed the reforms in the two previous legislative sessions. Miller said in testimony before the Legislature in recent months that lawmakers could no longer ignore glaring gaps in the law that were revealed by questionable practices in recent election cycles.

“I’m finally satisfied that Nevada voters will have a clearer picture of who is funding political campaigns in Nevada and, as a result, will be able to make more informed decisions at the ballot box,” Miller said when the bills received final legislative approval.

Miller said that for too long, information about who is spending what to influence campaigns in Nevada has been hidden from the voters by archaic and ambiguous laws.

“At a time when record amounts of money are being spent to elect decision-makers at all levels of government, we owed it to the voters to shed more light on campaign financing practices,” said Miller.

Assembly Bills 81, 82, and 452 address aspects of campaign contribution and expense reporting as well as other sections of election law. If passed, more information to be made available to voters sooner than in the past.

Campaign Finance and Expense Reporting

Candidates for public office would be required to electronically file contribution and expense reports with the Secretary of State’s office. This would enable the creation of database that can be searched by candidate name, contributor name, dollar amounts, and other data.

Campaign contribution and expense reports would also have to be filed at least four days before the start of early voting in primary and general elections.

All Political Action Committees, other committees, and individuals who spend more than $100 on a public communication such as a radio or TV ad, billboard, or mass mailing would have to identify in the communication who paid for it.

In addition, any person or group who spends more than $100 in an attempt to influence the outcome of a Nevada election would have to register with the Secretary of State and file annual contribution and expense reports.

Individuals would now be prohibited from contributing to a PAC with the knowledge and intent that the PAC would contribute that money to a specific candidate if the contribution puts the individual over the authorized limits on contributions to a single candidate.

A foreign national would not be able make contributions to Nevada campaigns, and soliciting, accepting, or receiving any campaign contributions from foreign nationals would be illegal under state law, just as it is under federal law.

Voter Registration

Online voter registration would be be expanded from Clark and Washoe Counties to all counties across the state.

A voter registration agency, county clerk or registrar would not be able to knowingly employ a person to register voters if the person had been convicted of a felony involving theft or fraud.

Threatening a person or using intimidation in connection with the registration of voters could constitute a category E felony crime.

Miscellaneous provisions

Individual minor party candidates could be placed on the ballot only if the party obtains ballot access as already required by law.

Acts of tampering or interfering with or attempting to tamper or interfere with a mechanical voting system or computer program used to count ballots would be punishable as a category B felony.

Requirements to register as a Ballot Advocacy Group (BAG) to support or oppose a ballot question would be deleted from statute. Individuals and organizations would have to register as a Political Action Committee to engage in political activity to support or oppose a ballot question, and the reporting threshold for such groups would be lowered from $10,000 in contributions and/or expenditures to $1,000 during any reporting period.

State holidays would no longer be excluded from the early voting period.

An October, 2009 regulation prohibiting county clerks and registrars from releasing results of statewide and multi-county races until the Secretary of State determines that all polling places are closed and all votes have been cast would be codified.

 

 

 

Immigration Bills Fall Short As Deadline Passes

By Andrew Doughman | 10:42 am April 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Bills related to immigration at the Nevada State Legislature did not make it past an important deadline last week.

One bill from Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, would have required Nevada to use an electronic database to verify a person’s employment eligibility.

Another from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, would have mirrored an Arizona law whose proponents crafted to curb illegal immigration, but whose detractors say encourages racial profiling. That law is currently tied up in the court system.

The dearth of immigration bills makes Nevada somewhat of an oddity in the United States. Other states are considering or have passed immigration legislation. Most lawmakers have sought to apply more stringent standards to current laws.

Utah, however, has passed a law that would allow police to check immigrants’ status, but would also allow illegal immigrants to obtain a permit to work in Utah.

In Nevada, even the sponsors of immigration bills seemed resigned to the death of their bills as a bill deadline loomed last Friday.

Hansen and Hickey did not press a Democratic committee chair to ensure the bills passed.

The bills did not have the votes to pass out of committee, they said.

Hansen said that tepid comments from legislators in addition to ambivalence from the business community and unions ensured his bill would not be considered.

The immigration issue, however, has not been primary to any discussion at the Nevada Legislature. The state’s fiscal woes have ensured most discussions relate to the governor’s proposed general fund budget. Bills changing the state’s education policy have also gained traction.

But immigration is not popular. Assembly Republicans have listed several legislative priorities, which would have more effect on public sector and trade unions and trial lawyers than on immigrants.

According to the Pew Center, however, Nevada hosts a high percentage of illegal immigrants compared to its population.

Nevada’s foreign-born population has also grown during the past decade to nearly 20 percent of the population, according to the American Community Survey. This population comprises both citizens and non-citizens.