Nevada Governor signs key bills passed late by lawmakers
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Major energy users like mines and casinos can shop for cheap power on the open market and counties can increase fees after Gov. Kenny Guinn signed two bills Tuesday that the Nevada Supreme Court revived from legal limbo.
The governor also promptly signed an earlier version of AB460, which allows the state to collect a tax imposed on rental cars that has been going to the industry. The tax is expected to bring in about $23 million.
”This is a process that’s unusual to Nevada,” Guinn said after signing the measures. ”The bills were caught up in the scheme of a difference between 12 a.m. and 1 a.m.”
The governor’s actions came after a divided Nevada Supreme Court revived AB661, backed by casinos and mines, and AB94, backed by county governments, both of which failed to pass before the scheduled close of the 2001 state Legislature.
The high court’s majority 5-2 decision held that lawmakers had until 1 a.m. June 5 to approve the bills. That ruling also allowed Guinn to act on the version of AB460.
Guinn had signed a version that included a legislative oversight committee of the state Transportation Department, which he opposed. He had planned to fight the issue in court.
”I signed AB460 on the basis that we needed to have that bill,” Guinn said. ”I have a problem with the Legislature overseeing the Executive branch.”
Guinn was noticeably pleased with the court’s actions.
”No governor can get everything. …” he said. ”I’m happy with where we’ve landed.”
AB661 lets major power users, such as casinos and mines, make their own deals for cheap electricity. It also includes a tax that will raise $10 million to help low-income, unemployed Nevadans pay their energy bills.
”The rules are very clear now as to what the constitutional provision means,” said Harvey Whittemore, representing casinos and mines. ”It will make it much easier for future Legislatures to plan their activity. It was a lesson for everybody that we have to watch out how things play out on the last day.”
Andrew List, representing local governments, was ecstatic.
”We’re glad that this confusion regarding the legislative time limit is finally cleared up. It makes it very clear that the legislative session is limited to 120 days, including that one hour.”
AB94 allows counties to raise certain fees for services they provide, some of which haven’t been raised in 25 years.
For example, county clerks since 1975 have been charging $3 to record marriage licenses.
Since then, the cost of doing business has risen, but the fees haven’t, List said, adding that the fee for recording marriage licenses will increase to $10.
Some of the county fee increases will go to help victims of domestic violence and persons formerly in foster care.
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