Some of the biggest feuds in recent Nevada history are spilling into Carson City during Week 9 of the legislative session. Rancher Cliven Bundy will bring his beef with the federal government to the Legislature, and lawmakers will get in the middle of a battle between the powerful taxi industry and the new kid on the block — ride hailing app Uber.
RANCHER IN CARSON CITY
Rancher Cliven Bundy grabbed national headlines last spring when he defied federal agents trying to collect on $1 million in unpaid grazing fees. Armed militias flocked to his southern Nevada ranch to defend Bundy against the Bureau of Land Management, and the tense standoff only ended when federal agents decided to back down.
A bill, AB408, which is up for debate Tuesday, aims to address Bundy’s complaints that the federal government is controlling land that rightfully belongs to Nevada.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore of Las Vegas. It would require the federal government to obtain permission to use land within the state’s borders. The proposal strips the federal government of state water rights and would allow county commissions to parcel out state land for industry use.
Bundy has chartered buses and rallied supporters to swarm the Legislature in a show of support.
Lawmakers have scheduled a hearing Monday morning on SB439, a bill that would set up a separate regulatory scheme for so-called “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft that use a smartphone app to connect riders with part-time drivers using personal cars.
Apparently thinking it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission, Uber burst onto the scene in Nevada last fall, saying its business model was so different from taxi companies that the state’s rigid cab regulatory scheme didn’t apply. After much clamoring from cab companies and a few impounded Uber cars, a judge handed the San Francisco-based startup a restraining order and the company suspended its foray into Nevada.
Cab groups oppose the move, saying Uber doesn’t want to adhere to the strict — and expensive — safety requirements they have to meet.
Uber says current law only serves to shut out competition, and that consumers want the more flexible and often cheaper service they provide.
DEMOCRATIC ELECTION BILLS
With Republicans sponsoring bills to transform Nevada elections by requiring photo identification at the polls, Democrats are making an offensive of their own.
Members of the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee will review four Democratic bills Monday that would make voting easier, including one that would allow people to register to vote up to and including on Election Day. Under current state law, people must register to vote weeks in advance.
Other measures would allow voters to register electronically at the Department of Motor Vehicles — they can currently only register by filling out a paper form — and another that would allow people to vote at any polling place in their home county on Election Day. That aims to include people who work far from their home polling place, and can’t make it back in time before polls close.
Common Core education standards adopted by several states to bring students up to a higher standard have become a lightning rod for criticism. Opponents pan the standards as a federal takeover of education and a one-size-fits-all approach to schooling, and many are suspicious of data collection procedures.
Those concerns are sure to come out Wednesday, when the Assembly Education Committee hears AB303 — a measure that would effectively abolish Common Core in Nevada.
WORDS FROM WASHINGTON
Republican Rep. Joe Heck will deliver a speech Monday to lawmakers. He’s the third representative of Nevada’s congressional delegation to address lawmakers this session.