Highway deaths prompt Nevada safety bill | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Highway deaths prompt Nevada safety bill


CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – The deaths of six teen-agers hit by a car while doing cleanup work along a southern Nevada highway prompted the Nevada Assembly to vote Monday for new safety measures.

The Assembly unanimously voted for AB27, which requires warning signs, flashing amber lights and other safety precautions when juveniles are assigned community service along or near highways.

”It’s the government’s first responsibility to provide safety,” said Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, explaining why he sponsored AB27.

Warning lights and signs would be placed at least 100 yards in front of and behind road crews. Teen-agers assigned to the crews would have to wear fluorescent vests, and parents would have to be notified when a child is assigned such work.

”This came about because of the tragic accident in Las Vegas. Everyone was getting lax,” said Assemblyman Joe Dini, D-Yerington. ”This should help prevent that sort of thing from happening again.”

Dini said the bill – which originally proposed taking all juveniles off highways when doing community service – was amended so that the program could continue.

”It’s a good program,” Dini said. ”Kids need to do the work. It allows them to get a little humility.”

Perkins said the need for the measure became obvious after a March 19, 2000, accident caused when Jessica Williams drifted off Interstate 15 and hit six teen-agers who were picking up trash in the median.

Williams, a 21-year-old former stripper, was found guilty of having drugs in her system at the time. She admitted smoking marijuana two hours before the crash. Sentenced to up to 48 years in prison, she’ll be eligible for parole in 17 years.

In other, the Assembly voted for AB370, by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, which allows an employer to seek court injunctions against workplace harassment.

Under the bill, employers would have to show a judge that someone has threatened to cause or commit an act that would cause damage or injury to others.

”This won’t prevent every murder or nonfatal assault at work, but it will help,” said Leslie.

AB327, a scaled-down bill that would have blocked executions of anyone younger than 18, also was approved by the lower house.

The measure, which passed 25-13, was amended to revise the order in which arguments are presented during penalty hearings in capital cases.

Currently, the prosecutor has the first and last opportunity to speak. Under the measure sponsored by Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, the defendant would speak last.

Assemblyman Greg Brower, R-Reno, opposed AB327, saying prosecutors in criminal cases have the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

”It’s the way it ought to be because of the prosecutor’s heavy burden,” he said. ”I see no evidence that long-standing tradition should be changed.”

The Assembly also approved AB634, creating a review board overseeing police within the University and Community College System of Nevada. The 15-member board would be appointed by the Board of Regents.

The Assembly also passed AB125, which prohibits businesses from employing or allowing a person less than 18 years of age to distribute promotional materials that include offers for alcoholic drinks.

AP-WS-04-23-01 2007EDT

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