Nevada Democrats eye new bills after past vetoes


Tom R. Smedes / AP

Gov. Steve Sisolak delivers his first State of the State Address on Jan. 16, 2019, at the Legislature in Carson City. On Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, the Legislature gets down to the business of governing when it begins its 80th session.

Mon, Feb 4, 2019 (2 a.m.)

CARSON CITY — Leading Democratic state lawmakers say they have no plans to override vetoes by former Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval after Nevada's last legislative session.

Instead, Democrats expect some vetoed legislation to be revisited through new bills, including measures that would ban private prisons and allow courts to vacate low-level marijuana convictions.

In Nevada, bills that are vetoed by the governor within 10 days after a legislative session return for the following session, where they can become law by a two-thirds majority vote in each body.

"I have no intention of overriding a veto. We have a majority in both houses and a governor that is willing to consider our deliberations," Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said. "And we have a whole session to take into account the governor's veto message and make any adjustments that might be necessary."

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson said they have no interest in overriding any vetoes, noting Democrats do not have a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Democrats in the Assembly have a two-thirds supermajority.

Sandoval vetoed 15 bills in the 10-day window following the 2017 legislative session. Those measures ranged in topic — one would have raised the state's minimum wage while another would have required certain types of trains to have a crew of at least two people.

Several of the vetoed bills centered on criminal justice, including one requiring criminal complaints to be filed within 72 hours of a person's arrest.

The former governor also vetoed legislation that would have banned private prisons. Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, a primary sponsor, said she will not push to override the veto, but she has already filed a bill draft request to ban private prisons. Reintroducing the bill allows newly elected lawmakers to participate and give input on the issue, she said.

"I just think that's the right thing to do. That's why I'm not advocating for an override," she said.

Democratic lawmakers said an override vote would take away an opportunity for new members to weigh in on issues they campaigned on.

Sandoval, in a letter that outlined his reasoning for the veto of the bill banning private prisons, raised concerns the legislation limited the discretion of the director of the state's Department of Corrections.

Like Monroe-Moreno, Assemblyman William McCurdy II says he is not pushing for an override vote on legislation about marijuana convictions that he sponsored last session. Instead, he believes the measure, which would allow courts to vacate low-level marijuana convictions and seal records, will be reintroduced.

McCurdy said he's confident it will not be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Sandoval raised concerns about the bill in his veto letter, saying there is no need for a separate process for marijuana-related crimes because of reforms to the state's process of sealing court records.

Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, the minority floor leader, said he's cautiously optimistic Sisolak will keep the revisited bills more moderate.

"Any laws that come out of this building, they're going to have to own it," he said, referring to the Democratic control. "So I'm hoping that that will temper things."

Back to top