Democrat-Run Legislature Could Pass More Progressive Bills
With control of the legislature and governor's office, democrats could pass more progressive bills during the 80th Legislative Session.
Democrats hold both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office for the first time since 1992. It is also the first time a party has held the trifecta since the republicans in 2015-2016. Their position in the majority makes it a lot more possible to pass bills without a veto than it has in years past.
"You're going to see more progressive legislation," Eric Herzik, Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Nevada said. "You've seen it already with the gun background check bill."
Governor Steve Sisolak signed the universal gun background check bill into law, last Friday. It easily passed the Senate and Assembly without one republican voting in favor of the bill. Skip Daly is the only democrat who voted against the bill.
"The speaker and I will get together sometime in the next day or so and we'll sit down and talk about these things but that one went through very partisan and it was not good," Assem. Jim Wheeler, R-Minden said. "We should have had some input on it because there's a lot more to this state than Las Vegas."
About a dozen other gun bills could be introduced during the 2019 legislative session. Some are republican-sponsored bills that would expand gun rights. Democrats are sponsoring other bills that would require a change in how people store their firearms and another that would keep people with restraining orders against them from owning or possessing a gun. Wheeler says that bill would be unconstitutional, since no conviction would be required.
"But I've got a feeling it's going to blast right through," Wheeler said. "It's just the next part of the gun control that they want to get through."
Sen. Julia Ratti is one of the sponsors of that bill, which democrats say is intended to protect people from others with high-risk behavior. Ratti says the overwhelming majority of bills that pass are bipartisan or unanimous. Republicans and democrats may never agree on some legislation though.
"There are a handful of issues where we have a different view of the world and it is, I think, encouraging for me that some of the ideas that we've been needing to move forward are moving forward, this session," Ratti, D-Sparks said.
While some issues are hard for the two parties to see eye-to-eye on, Ratti says she sees a lot of bipartisan work in the legislature. Especially, northern Nevada's representation, since it has so many people on both sides of the aisle.
"I see it every day in this building," Ratti said. "I see it happen when we're not here. We talk to each other on a regular basis and I for one, and I know all of my colleagues, are willing to listen."
Some families, groups and lobbyists are working with the democrats to pass their bills. They include legislation that would require every company to pay employees for sick days.
"They have to choose between getting that day's paycheck or taking care of themselves or their families and we think that's not a choice people should have to make," Natalie Hernandez, Campaign Manager for Time To Care Nevada.
Democrats held a press conference with members of NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada, Monday morning. They are working to pass bills that will update language in law regarding abortion rights.
"We think that whatever party you are, you can be on firm ground, respecting this right that these decisions are personal and to be made by women and not by politicians," Caroline Mello Roberson, State Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada said.
Legislation like this may not have passed in other years when republicans controlled either the legislature or the governor's office. Herzik says liberal bills that may have failed in the past could become law during this session. Some of those could include one that would abolish the death penalty and one that would legalize assisted suicide. He says moderates will be okay with some of the more progressive bills but that democrats could easily over-play their hand.
"The more they get into certain types of like minimum wage items and whatnot, then you might see the center kind of say 'Wait a second, I didn't want to go this far.'"
Herzik says the left-wing democrats are on the rise and that Sisolak may have a harder time negotiating with them than he would with republicans.
"It actually is possible that Sisolak will, if he can't in a sense, restrain the most kind of liberal tendencies of the democratic caucus, particularly in the Assembly, he may have to veto his own people," Herzik said.
Monday is the start of the legislative session's third week and it runs until June. A lot more controversial bills could hit the floor by then. Members of both parties say they are hoping to work together to find bipartisan solutions.