By Jessica Hill, Las Vegas Review-Journal, June 4, 2023
Gov. Joe Lombardo has vetoed 30 bills so far during the 2023 legislative session, although that list could continue to grow as measures are sent to his desk during the closing days.
Lombardo is “on pace to have the most vetoes of all time,” said Kerry Durmick, state director of All Voting is Local Action Nevada during a press conference on Friday.
Currently, the Nevada governor with the most vetoes in a single session is former Gov. Jim Gibbons with 48 vetoes in the 2009 session. The governor with the most overall vetoes is Gov. Brian Sandoval with 97 vetoes, spanning four sessions, according to the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s Research Division.
This is a growing list of Lombardo’s most prominent vetoes, which the Review-Journal will continuously update:
Lombardo said that the bill inequitably applies to a group of businesses that are pursuing Nevada tax abatements that have more than 50 employees. He said the bill does not detail how the requirements would be regulated and does not give details on how it would apply to businesses that merge, are acquired by another company or go bankrupt. Lombardo also argued that the bill would reduce Nevada’s competitiveness with other states in attracting talented job candidates.
— SB 302: Would have prohibited a health care licensing board from taking action against or disqualifying a health care provider for providing gender-affirming health care services to people. It would have also prohibited the governor from issuing an arrest warrent for a person who was charged in another state where it’s illegal to provide gender-affirming health care services.
Lombardo said the bill inhibits the executive branch’s ability “to be certain that all gender-affirming care related to minors” aligns with state law. He also said it erodes his branch’s ability to ensure child safety standards for Nevadans.
— AB 223: Would have required a collection agency to provide payoff letters upon request to a person who was in debt.
Lombardo called the bill “problematic” because it creates a private right to legal action, although there is already an established complaint processes in place. “While debtor protection is an important goal, the policy changes contemplated in this bill should instead be deliberated and executed upon through the Department of Business and Industry’s regulatory processes,” he wrote.
In his veto message, Lombardo said the bill expands the state’s prevailing wage definition in a way that will increase costs on prefabrication projects and would make it “more difficult to build and efficiently manage certain critical infrastructure projects” in the state.
“Every single trades worker in Nevada should be entitled to a prevailing wage,” said AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Susie Martinez. “Governor Lombardo’s veto of Assembly Bill 235 is disheartening, especially as he advocates for the implementation of large-scale and financially taxing construction projects across our state.”
Lombardo said that while children’s mental health is a priority, the bill included an unfunded mandate on the executive branch.
“Since AB 265 does little to address the primary issue plaguing our mental health crisis — that we do not have enough beds to adequately serve those struggling with mental health issues — I cannot support it,” Lombardo wrote.
Lombardo said there are many technical issues with the bill and that the definition of “full-time substitute teacher” is broad and does not address the number of hours a substitute must teach to be considered full-time. He also said the bill does not address or require the same benefit for substitute teachers at charter schools, “creating a disparity between such teachers based on where they teach.”
“This bill would have provided our substitute public school teachers who work full time with a subsidy to purchase health insurance, a basic benefit that would have provided over a thousand educators statewide with an acknowledgment that despite being shockingly underpaid, our state cares about their health,” said ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Athar Haseebullah in a statement.
Lombardo said the measure presents “an unreasonable restraint on standard business activity.”
“I am saddened and disappointed that the governor rejected this legislation protecting the most vulnerable Nevadans,” said Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, D-Las Vegas, the bill’s sponsor, in a statement. “As Nevada continues to grow, we must also prioritize the needs and safety of our most vulnerable populations, such as seniors and people with disabilities.”
Lombardo said the scope of the measure is too broad and that there is no notable history of gun violence at election sites.
— AB 355: Would have made it a gross misdemeanor for a person younger than 21 years old to have a semiautomatic shotgun or semiautomatic rifle.
Lombardo said the bill wouldn’t pass “constitutional muster” after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California’s ban of the sale of semiautomatic rifles to people under 21 in the case Jones v. Bonta.
— AB 456: Would have limited the length of freight trains to no more than 7,500 feet.
Lombardo said the bill is a “policy overreach” and unlikely to withstand litigation.
“The longer we go without reforming our state’s railroad regulations, the closer we get to experiencing a tragedy like the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio,” Martinez said. “With this legislation, Nevada could have been a leader in railroad safety; now, we run the risk of becoming a national headline in the future.”
Lombardo said the budget bill uses one-time money for ongoing expenses, fails to save enough money and allocated too much to the Legislature.
“This budget supports the very fabric that makes our communities strong,” said Eric Jeng, acting executive director of ONE APIA in a news conference. “These programs are mission-critical for our community. We are disappointed but hopeful for negotiations that put our communities and our families first.”
Lombardo said the penalty would be disproportionately harsher than that for other crimes, like high-level fentanyl traffickers and domestic violence perpetrators. He also said the bill does nothing to ensure the “security of our elections.”
“For years, Lombardo hasn’t hesitated to stand with the most extreme members of his party who have spread conspiracy theories that led to a deadly insurrection,” said spokesperson Mallory Payne. “There’s no question public safety and law enforcement are the furthest thing from Lombardo’s priorities.”
— SB 169: Would have required that the master plan in Clark and Washoe counties includes a heat mitigation element, such as cooling spaces, public drinking water and urban tree canopies.
Lombardo said the bill creates more red-tape for projects. He also said, “there is no data definitely supporting the proposition that development is causing rising temperatures in either Washoe County or Clark County.”
— SB 171: Would have prohibited a person from purchasing, owning or having a gun if the person had been convicted of offenses that constitute a hate crime within the last 10 years.
Lombardo said the bill would deprive people of their Second Amendment rights.
“At a time when hate crimes are on the rise and communities are increasingly targeted because of race, ethnicity, religion, and other immutable parts of their identities, we should be doing more to protect our citizens,” said Sen. Dallas Harris, D-Las Vegas, the author of the bill.
Lombardo said the bill is unnecessary because railroads are already required to pay prevailing wages by the Federal Railroad Administration, and it would increase construction-related costs and burdens for companies seeking to develop infrastructure in Nevada.
Lombardo said that the bill only requires summer school but does not provide any mechanism to ensure that school districts have the means to pay for it, known as an “unfunded mandate.”
— SB 404: Would have revised the procedure for poll watchers to challenge a voter’s proof of residency and would have allowed ballots to be counted beginning on the first day of early voting, rather than starting on Election Day.
Lombardo said it is a “bad bill” that weakens residency requirements, restricts a voter’s ability to challenge another voter’s eligibility and promotes a lack of transparency.
“We need to make it easier to vote while also making it harder to cheat,” he said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.