(Annie Black) – As a freshman member of the Nevada State Assembly I’m only allowed to introduce five “bill draft requests” (BDR) before the start of the 2021 legislative session, and one additional bill after the session starts.
With so many problems plaguing our state, the hard part was narrowing down the list of potential bills to five that would do the most amount of good for the largest number of people for the longest period of time.
So without further ado, here are the five BDR’s I plan to submit for consideration…
1.) Spending Restraint Act
Existing law prohibits the governor from submitting a proposed budget that increases spending above the combined rate of population growth plus inflation. Unfortunately, that limitation does not apply to the Legislature.
This BDR would prohibit the Legislature from passing a budget that exceeds the combined rate of population growth plus inflation unless approved by a 2/3 super-majority vote, similar to Nevada’s tax restraint law.
If you don’t restrain spending, it’s harder to restrain taxes.
2.) CONES Act
Whenever a fiscal conservative announces their opposition to any tax hike, the tax-and-spend crowd demands to know “What would you cut?”
Fair enough. But in Nevada, our elected members of the state senate and assembly are part-time citizen legislators who have no staff or team of budget analysts.
This BDR would establish a permanent joint legislative “Cut Out Non-Essential Spending” (CONES) committee with the sole purpose of identifying non-essential state expenditures – as well as waste, fraud and abuse – and recommending their elimination or reduction.
This “anti-appropriations” committee would have paid staff and budget analysts, as well as the power to call government officials to testify and open up their books. The money saved by eliminating or reducing non-essential spending will more than pay for the cost of the committee…without raising taxes.
3.) Emergency Small Business Relief Act
Small businesses and “mom-and-pop” operations have been hit hardest by Gov. Sisolak’s arbitrary and discriminatory shutdown orders. For example, small neighborhood liquor stores were initially deemed “non-essential” and shut down while big box and grocery stores were allowed to remain open and sell liquor.
For Nevada’s economy to recover, we need to help entrepreneurs, independent contractors and home-based businesses get off the ground and hopefully grow into bigger businesses that will hire and employ more Nevadans.
This BDR would exempt any small business with annual gross revenue of $100,000 or less from the $200 per year state business license fee. It may not sound like much…but it’ll make a difference if you’re a small operation. Gotta start somewhere.
4.) Slam-and-Jam Prevention Act
It happens every legislative session. In the final hours and minutes before the deadline to adjourn, bills and amendments are rushed through – the ol’ slam-and-jam – without legislators, let alone the public, having time to read and fully understand exactly what is being voted on.
The most recent example was AB4 – a bill to dramatically change Nevada’s election laws which was introduced with just one hour’s notice during the special session in August and passed in the dead of night.
That’s no way to do the people’s business.
This BDR would amend the Nevada Constitution to require that all bills be posted on a public website in their entirety, without amendment, for at least 48 hours before being voted on. No longer should voters and taxpayers be forced to wait until after a bill is passed to find out what’s in it.
5.) NOTC Enhancement Act
Nevada is unique in that voters have the option of choosing “None of These Candidates” (NOTC) in statewide races. And over the years there have been five instances where NOTC actually received more votes than the candidates on the ballot. The most recent was in the 2014 Democrat gubernatorial primary.
Unfortunately, when NOTC comes out on top, the candidate who comes in second is declared the winner. So voting NOTC is a “protest” vote with no real effect. I think if we’re going to have NOTC, it should mean something with real consequences.
This BDR would put teeth in the law by requiring a special election when NOTC wins and prohibiting any of the losing candidates from participating in the special election. It would also extend the NOTC option to every race on the ballot, not just statewide and federal races.
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There are other good bills I considered introducing – such as limiting a governor’s emergency powers, voter ID, occupational licensing reform, additional protections for law enforcement officers, etc. However, some of my colleagues have already submitted BDR’s on those issues, so I’ll just consider signing onto their bills as a co-sponsor.
These five BDR’s are pro-voter and/or pro-taxpayer good government bills that I hope my colleagues will give serious consideration.
But I’ve already been warned that since Republicans like me are in the minority of a Democrat-controlled Legislature, they’ll be killed without even a hearing. I hope that’s not the case.
If it is, and the committee chairmen refuse to hold official hearings, that won’t stop me. I’ll just use my position as an elected member of the Legislature to hold my own “unofficial” hearings with witnesses and testimony that’ll be open to you, as well as the media.
My bills might not see the light of day in the Legislature, but the public will. I know I’m going to be a freshman in Carson City, but I won’t be a potted plant. Buckle up!
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“Nevada’s private sector workers and companies have borne the brunt of this pandemic. There’s no reason state agencies should be immune from budget realities. … And any state lawmaker who advocates for tax hikes during these trying times will be on a suicide mission.” – Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial, 12/7/20
“The ‘rona’ didn’t take down Nevada. The government took down Nevada.” – Daniel Burns
“Citizens upset w/ how voting occurred this cycle should work to demand their state legislatures pass serious reform in early 2021: end indiscriminate mail-out votes, vote harvesting practices; make in-person early voting accessible with ID; impose signature verification measures.” – Hugh Hewitt
“1984 isn’t just a fiction novel. It’s the Democrats’ playbook.” – Courtney Holland
“We will not bend. We will not break. We will not yield. We will never give in. We will never give up. We will never back down. We will NEVER, ever surrender! Because we are Americans and our hearts bleed red, white & blue!” – PRESIDENT Donald Trump at Georgia rally Saturday night
Annie Black is the Nevada State Assemblywoman representing District 19. You can get more information by visiting www.electannieblack.com