Lawmakers are in Carson City today for the start of the 2011 Legislative session. And once again, Nevada’s economy and the state budget will be the major focus. Democrats come into the new session with a narrow majority in both houses. For the next 120 days, both Democrats and Republicans will argue over taxes and spending. Governor Brian Sandoval’s proposed five-point-eight billion dollar budget calls for cuts in many programs and no new taxes, and he has the support of fellow Republicans in the Legislature. Democrats are expected to argue for an additional two billion dollars in new revenues to pay for social services and education. But without a veto-proof majority in both the Assembly and the state Senate, Democrats will have to work with GOP lawmakers on a compromise the governor will sign. And it’s unclear whether Sandoval will break his pledge not to raise taxes in order to get a two-year budget passed.
The budget and taxes aren’t the only issues to be considered by the Legislature this year. The “Review-Journal” says more than 900 proposed bills are being drafted by lawmakers on a variety of issues. They include measures to ban texting and cell phone use while driving, a measure to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana, a constitutional amendment to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, and a measure requiring Nevada businesses to verify if a worker is an American citizen. Some familiar issues will also be back before lawmakers, including another attempt to allow a state lottery and a measure to repeal Nevada’s motorcycle helmet law. Also expected to be discussed is a bill requiring cold and allergy medicines used to make methamphetamine to be available by prescription only, and a bill requiring parents to install alarms that would prevent kids from being left inside hot vehicles. Also expected to be considered are measures to outlaw protests at funerals and a ban on job discrimination against obese people.