Anti-growth bills die in Legislature

Two proposed laws designed to frustrate growth-control petitions died in the Legislature on Friday.

SB279 was requested by opponents of the Sustainable Growth Initiative in Douglas County. It would have required anyone proposing an initiative petition that slows or otherwise controls development to make extensive findings about the merits and potential impacts of the initiative or referendum before it could be put on the ballot.

It would have also imposed those requirements on any local planning board or commission attempting to control growth.

Government Affairs Chairwoman Ann O'Connell, R-Las Vegas, told her committee the sponsor of the legislation had recommended it be indefinitely postponed -- legislative code for killed.

Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, introduced SB279 on behalf of SGI opponents in the Senate. The growth control initiative was approved overwhelmingly by Douglas County voters in November and caps development in that county at 280 dwelling units a year. Developers wanted the bill to put some legal roadblocks in front of anyone attempting a similar measure elsewhere in the state.

Meanwhile, they continue to challenge SGI in the courts and have, at this point, a Douglas County District court order at least delaying its implementation.

Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, introduced a similar bill in the Assembly -- AB428. Assembly Government Affairs Chairman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, said the legislation was not acted on Friday. Since Friday was the deadline for committee action on all bills in the house where they originated, that means it too is dead.

"I put it in a subcommittee to work on, but I guess there were just too many problems," Manendo said.

Supporters of SGI opposed the legislation in both houses. John Garvin of the SGI movement described it as "a brazen attempt to bludgeon the initiative process." He said it would impose major expenses on citizen groups to assess financial and environmental resources that would be affected as well as to determine housing needs in a region. And that, opponents argue, is an attempt to prevent citizen groups from using the ballot process to control growth when their elected officials won't.

Supporters of the legislation said it would address the need to provide accurate and thorough information on the broad effects that changes in a county's master plan would create.


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