This week, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) finally did what so many feared: He vetoed some bills. Specifically, he vetoed seven bills that passed the Nevada Legislature this session.
Much is being said about these vetoes, so let’s examine what these bills are before we guess why Sandoval rejected them.
As we search for meaning in Sandoval’s vetoes, let’s first review the vetoes we probably shouldn’t seek deeper meaning from. AB 445 would reduce the amount of insurance Uber and Lyft drivers must carry from $1.5 million to $1 million. AB 364 would order a traffic study in the eastern Las Vegas Valley. Sandoval took issues with specific points in these bills, so there may not be some hidden agenda behind these vetoes.
The other bills, however, were vetoed with much more meaning.
AB 154 is Assembly Member Chris Brooks’ (D-Las Vegas) bill to restore full prevailing wage for workers on school construction projects that was cut by AB 172 in 2015. And AB 271 is Assembly Member Richard Carrillo’s (D-Paradise) bill to undo the weakening of collective bargaining law achieved when Sandoval signed SB 241 into law in 2015. In vetoing these bills, Sandoval signaled he doesn’t want to let go of any of the rollbacks to workers’ rights he achieved under the Republican controlled Legislature in 2015.
Then there are the criminal justice reform bills. SB 140 is Senator Joe Hardy’s (R-Boulder City) bill to allow more elderly inmates to serve the rest of their sentence in house arrest. And AB 438 is Assembly Member Edgar Flores’ (D-North Las Vegas) bill reducing drug sentences. Sandoval’s vetoes of these two bills suggests he may ultimately turn back the bipartisan push for criminal justice reform this session.
AB 101 is a trickier bill to figure out. This is Assembly Member Mike Sprinkle’s (D-Sparks) bill to change how the state uses hunting fees to manage predatory wildlife. At first glance it doesn’t seem controversial, but the bill passed mostly along party lines. Is Governor Sandoval concerned AB 101 has “no clear justification” or mission to protect wildlife, or is this more of a message on what happens when “party-line bills” reach his desk?
All eyes now fall on these bills in particular. SB 233, AB 249, and AB 408 are the three bills to guarantee Nevada women access to contraception and other reproductive health care services. SB 397 is the workplace equality bill Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) worked with Sandoval’s administration to amend more to their liking. AB 384 is Assembly Member Tyrone Thompson’s (D-North Las Vegas) “Ban the Box” bill to ensure rehabilitated ex-prisoners can find work, and he also worked with Sandoval’s administration and local governments to amend the bill more to their liking. And SB 265 is the diabetes prescription drug bill that’s caused quite the scene in Carson City.
SB 233 and AB 249 attracted some Republican votes in both houses, while SB 265 received a big bipartisan Senate vote and a party-line Assembly vote. SB 397 and AB 384 were party-line votes in both houses despite Spearman and Thompson working with the Sandoval Administration to amend their respective bills. Sandoval’s actions on this next batch of bills will provide major clues on how this session ends. Watch this space.