by JERI CHADWELL
Friday marked yet another deadline at the Legislature. Bills and resolutions had to be approved by the second house committees to which they were assigned after passing out of their respective houses of origin.
A very delayed Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee convened during the afternoon to do just that. Despite the hectic pace in the capitol, the mood in the hearing room was surprising light as the committee’s seven members sat down to consider a docket of 12 bills in need of passage. The first half hour of the meeting saw a motion to amend and pass along 11 of those measures, including AB391 — a bill concerning renewable energy and public works bidding — which committee chair Sen. Kelvin Atkinson noted was the first bill to pass on a partisan vote in his committee.
“I don’t know how to feel,” Atkinson joked after the 4-3 vote in favor of passage. “I kind of feel like ending right now and letting everything else die.”
While several of his fellow senators seconded the motion, in the end, the committee stuck around to discuss, amend and pass all 12 of the bills on their agenda.
AB170 would give advanced practice nurses the authority to practice medicine and prescribe drugs in Nevada without having to utilize a protocol approved by a collaborating physician. Senator James Settelmeyer was the only republican committee member to vote in favor of passing AB170 — a move that he said was based on the passage of the Affordable Care Act and his belief that rural Nevada will see a resulting shortage of doctors.
“Did you want to tell us how you feel about the affordable care act?” Atkinson asked after Settelmeyer expressed his support of the bill.
“Do you have a spare hour, sir? If you do, I’ll have Hutch [Sen. Mark Hutchison] start,” Settelmeyer retorted.
Discussion on the final bill to be taken up during the committee meeting lasted nearly twice as long as discussion of the other measures on the agenda combined and was marked by a much more serious tone in the hearing room. SB123 would create a plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired electric generating plants in densely populated counties (currently only Clark County). After nearly an hour of discussion — and relatively few jokes — the bill passed the committee on a unanimous vote.