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Lawmakers Considering Private Prison Ban for Nevada Inmates

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers this week will debate issues ranging from private prisons and gift card expiration dates to renewable energy and health care.

The halfway point of the legislative session is bringing longer hearings and the close of initial budget talks.

Here’s more on some of the issues ahead at the Nevada Legislature:

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PRIVATE PRISONS
Lawmakers are taking up a proposal on Tuesday that would prohibit state and local government agencies from incarcerating Nevada offenders in privately operated prisons.

No private prisons currently exist in Nevada.

But the bill would affect a handful of the 13,300 inmates the state oversees, according to the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Forty-six of those offenders would be at risk in Nevada’s general corrections population and are currently held in private prisons outside state lines.

Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed this year to move 200 more people to such facilities to ease overcrowding in the Southern Desert Correctional Center.

The Democrat-backed proposal would require Sandoval and Nevada’s corrections officials to find somewhere else to put those people and spend millions of dollars more to keep them in the state instead of at a privately run prisons elsewhere.

Private prisons are promoted as an cost-effective solution to overpopulated government run lockups.
But justice advocates and inmates’ families say signing away public oversight leads to lower-quality facilities with guards and wardens who care more about saving money than inmates’ wellbeing.

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GIFT CARDS
Lawmakers start the week with a debate on whether to prevent give cards from ever expiring.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that all gift cards are subject under federal law to an expiration date of at least five years.

Assembly Bill 287 would ban expiration dates on gift cards sold in Nevada, the newspaper reported.
It will be heard Monday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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RENEWABLE ENERGY
Members of an energy panel will discuss making solar panels more affordable and a recent drop in jobs linked to renewable energy jobs plus other issues facing Nevada’s renewable energy sector on Monday.

A package of bills focusing on the sector will move to the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor for consideration on Wednesday.

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HEALTH CARE
The Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services on Friday will take up one of the Democratic majority’s most exhaustive attempts to enshrine the Affordable Care Act in state law.

Assembly Bill 408 would align Nevada law with federal provisions mandating coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, maternity and prenatal care and preventative screenings. It would also allow people to stay on their parents’ Nevada insurance plans until age 26.

A longshot Democratic proposal to open government-sponsored health care to anyone who wants to buy in will be heard by the same committee Friday.

No other state has made such a move to expand Medicaid, which would require the blessing of President Donald Trump’s administration.

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