By Megan Messerly
The Nevada Independent
More than 250 bills took effect either in whole or in part on Monday, from a measure that immediately restores voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals to legislation that allows noncitizens to apply for a professional or occupational license.
Other notable proposals that will kick in include measures removing the time limit for prosecuting sexual assaults when there is DNA evidence, sealing records for decriminalized offenses and decriminalizing abortion. The Legislature also passed many other lessnoticed items that will take effect, including a bill eliminating a five-year residency requirement for free state park permits for seniors.
Neon will also officially become the state?s element, and the portion of I-11 in Nevada will be designated the Purple Heart Highway.
Here?s a look at some of the highlights of the bills that took effect on Monday:
CRIME AND JUSTICE
AB431: Immediate restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Beginning Monday, inmates who have completed their sentences will be able to automatically have their right to vote restored whether or not they are on parole or probation, homogenizing the state?s previous system of restoring voting rights. The legislation is expected to allow up to 77,000 Nevadans to have their voting rights restored.
AB142: No time limit for prosecuting sexual assaults when there is DNA evidence.
This legislation entirely removes any time limits for prosecuting sexual assaults if the identity of the person who is accused of committing the assault is established by DNA evidence. The new provision will apply to anyone who committed a sexual assault prior to July 1 if the statute of limitations has not yet expired and to any future sexual assaults.
The new law builds on prior legislation removing all time limits for prosecuting sexual assaults if during the 20-year statute of limitations the victim of the assault files a written report about the assault with a law enforcement officer.
AB152: Increased penalties for disturbing native graves, historic and prehistoric sites.
The penalty for removing, mutilating, defacing, injuring or destroying native graves will now be punishable as a gross misdemeanor for a first offense, a category E felony for a second offense, and a category C felony for a third or subsequent offense. Previously, such an offense was punishable by a fine of anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500.
AB152 also increases penalties on knowing and willfully removing, mutilating, defacing, excavating, injuring or destroying a historic or prehistoric site or resource on state land or to sell cultural property from state land without a permit. Previously, such an offense was punishable by a fine of $1,000 for a first offense and a gross misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense. The penalties have been increased to a gross misdemeanor for the first offense, a category E felony for a second offense, and a category C felony for a third or subsequent offense.
In both cases, courts will be allowed to order a person to pay restitution for the damaged graves, artifacts, or sites.
SB252: Residential confinement for elderly offenders.
Elderly offenders who are 65 years of age or older and have not been convicted of a crime of violence, certain offenses against a child, a sexual offense, vehicular homicide, or driving under the influence of alcohol and causing the death are now eligible for residential confinement. Such offenders are required to have served eight consecutive years in custody or a majority of the maximum term of their sentence in order to qualify. Offenders who have been sentenced to death or imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole are not eligible for residential confinement.
AB192: Sealing records for decriminalized offenses Starting today, anyone convicted of an offense that has been decriminalized can submit a request to the court that any record of criminal history relating to the conviction be sealed. The legislation primarily affects individuals convicted of marijuana-related offenses but will also apply to any other offense decriminalized before, on, or after July 1.
SB430: Expanded definition of ?chronic or debilitating medical condition? for medical marijuana use.
Anyone with an anxiety disorder, autism, autoimmune disease, opioid addiction, anorexia, muscle spasms, chronic pain, medical condition related to AIDS or HIV or neuropathic condition will now be considered to have a ?chronic or debilitating medical condition? for purposes of obtaining a medical marijuana card. Previously, that term only delineated a select few conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, and severe nausea.
AB140: No discrimination based on disability or having medical marijuana card.
Starting Monday, courts will be barred from discriminating against someone in a child custody, visitation, adoption or guardianship proceeding solely because he or she is deaf, blind or has another physical disability or because he or she holds a medical marijuana card. AB140 also prohibits such criteria from being used to discriminate against prospective adoptive parents or in determining whether a child is in need of protection from his or her parent or guardian.
AB221: Allowing 18-year-olds to work for gaming technology equipment company.
No longer will 18-year-olds be barred from working at companies that design, develop, program or produce software for gaming devices or other gaming equipment. The change also applies to employees of companies that assemble or repair gaming devices or gaming support systems. Previously, employees were required to be 21 to work at such companies.
AB275: Occupational licensing for non-citizens.
Starting Monday, anyone who is not a citizen but is authorized to work in the United States under a federal law or program will be able to apply for a professional or occupational license. In backing the bill, Democratic Assemblywoman Selena Torres had argued that an occupational license only proves competency and that employers still have the responsibility to ensure their workers are able to be legally employed in the country.
SB394: Requirement that DMV educate the public about new traffic laws.
The Department of Motor Vehicles will be now required to compile a list of all new traffic laws, amendments or other changes passed after each legislative session and distribute that information to the public. The information will be required to be posted on the DMV?s website and can be distributed with other DMV materials.
SB212: Notice before towing.
Towing companies will now be able to immediately tow vehicles if a notice was posted on a vehicle for the same or similar reason within a residential complex or if it was posted three or more times for any reason during the immediately preceding six months. Previously, tow companies were not able to tow a vehicle until 48 hours after affixing such a notice to the vehicle explaining why it was scheduled to be towed.
This measure is aimed at an issue with University of Nevada, Reno students parking their cars for an extended period of time in inappropriate locations because of the 48-hour waiting period requirement.
AB427: No fees or tuition to university for veterans who have received the Purple Heart.
Veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart will no longer be required to pay any tuition, registration fees, laboratory fees, or any other mandatory fees assessed by the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada.
AB429: Waiver of fees for other veterans enrolled in certain STEAM graduate programs.
Other veterans will be allowed to have no less than half of their total registration fees and other fees waived by the Board of Regents if they have completed a bachelor?s degree program and are enrolled in a graduate degree program in science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics or a health science designated as a critical need occupation. The veteran or a third party will be required to pay the remainder of the fees for the program, and the veteran will be required to maintain a 2.75 grade point average.
SB331: I-11 designated Purple Heart Highway.
Beginning today, the portion of I-11 in Nevada will be known as the Purple Heart Highway. The Department of Transportation will be required to erect and maintain markers on the highway to such an effect.
SB179: Abortion changes.
Beginning Monday, doctors will no longer need to certify a woman?s age or marital status before performing an abortion, nor will they be required to discuss the implications of undergoing the procedure before she receives an abortion. The legislation also removes longstanding criminal penalties on abortions performed outside the scope of state law, among other changes.
AB59: Park permits for seniors.
Nevada residents 65 years of age or older will no longer have to wait five years before receiving an annual permit to use all of the state?s parks and recreational areas for free. AB59 eliminates the five-year waiting period requirement and instead requires the Division of State Parks to issue permits to any bona fide residents of the state who are 65 or older.
AB182: Neon officially becomes the state element.
Starting on July 1, neon is officially the state element of Nevada. The legislation was written by students from Carson Montessori School, assisted by Will Durham, the director of the Nevada Neon Project.
SB164: Bitcoin exempted from property taxation.
Bitcoin and other virtual currencies created, issued and maintained on the blockchain and are not attached to tangible assets or fiat currency are now exempted from property taxation.
SB17: Suspension of hunting licenses for child support.
The state?s Department of Wildlife will now be able to revoke any individual?s license to hunt, fish or trap if they receive notice the license-holder is wanted or in arrears over paternity or child support payments.
This article was reprinted with permission by The Nevada Independent. Visit them online at thenevadaindependent.com