Sisolak rejects four bills including legislative ethics commissions and housing discrimination changes
Gov. Steve Sisolak said late Friday he vetoed four bills passed during the recently concluded Legislature, including measures that would have created legislative ethics commissions, amended Nevada’s housing discrimination laws, revised the state’s tourism improvement districts and established a dental oversight committee.
He wrote four letters to Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske informing her of his decision to veto the bills.
The bills will be returned to their house of origin in the 2023 Legislature where lawmakers could override any of the vetoes by a two-thirds vote.
The bills Sisolak rejected were:
Assembly Bill 65, which passed by split votes in both the Assembly and Senate, made changes to provisions overseeing ethics in government; however, an amendment that was adopted would have created new legislative ethics commissions for each house. That amendment, Sisolak said, changed his view of the bill.
“I want to be very clear that I support the majority of the sections of this bill,” the governor said in the letter. However, the amendment converted the bill “from a mostly housekeeping measure into a significant policy change.”
The separate commissions that would have investigated and adjudicated complaints against lawmakers and staffers weren’t needed, Sisolak surmised. He said the Nevada Ethics Commission already administers those matters.
“Having a single body handle these issues ensures uniformity and fairness,” Sisolak said. He noted that separate legislative ethics commissions were abolished in 1985 and consolidated into the current Nevada Ethics Commission structure.
Senate Bill 254, which passed by split votes in both the Assembly and Senate, would have amended the state’s housing discrimination laws to reflect federal regulations. The change would have allowed the Nevada Equal Rights Commission to investigate and enforce fair housing rights under federal law. The bill also limited the use of criminal background checks and criminal history as a reason for a landlord to refuse an applicant.
Sisolak said the changes were “good intentioned,” but could ultimately deprive Nevada residents of “superior, cost-free fair house enforcement” available through federal government agencies. He said the bill also imposed restrictions on a landlord’s ability to choose who rents their property.
“Although I understand the noble purposes behind SB254, the bill is drafted in such a way that it could impose substantial liability on individual landlords and yet not achieve one of its major goals,” Sisolak said.
Assembly Bill 368, which was unanimously passed in both houses, would have revised how projects would be financed within a tourism improvement district. The bill required additional reporting on taxes collected from businesses.
Sisolak said the bill “is contrary to the goals of restarting our economy, improving our infrastructure, and creating jobs.” The governor said he didn’t want to remove “any of the tools local governments can use to encourage and generate economic development.”
Senate Bill 391, which was unanimously approved in the Senate but passed by a split vote in the Assembly, would have established a committee to work with the State Dental Officer governing teledentistry for advising dentists administering medical care during an emergency.
The bill also would have exempted the committee from adhering to Nevada’s Open Meeting Law when there was an emergency or disaster, which Sisolak “strongly” opposed.
“I support the provisions of the bill that would allow for use of teledentistry to bring dental care to more Nevadans, especially in the rural areas,” Sisolak said. “Unfortunately, however, I cannot support this bill because of the provisions that create a new committee governing the practice of dentistry during an emergency.”