Nevada lawmakers mull second special session on social reforms

Thu, Jul 9, 2020 (12:43 p.m.)

CARSON CITY — As state lawmakers debate in special session over $1 billion in budget cuts, discussions continue behind the scenes about a second special session to tackle social reforms.

Gov. Steve Sisolak has said he plans to call a second session once the current one adjourns. But the parameters of lawmakers’ policy discussions are not known.

Criminal justice, social and electoral reform have been discussed in broad terms.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, called the discussion around potential social justice reform policies an “ongoing conversation.”

“We have a very real issue here, not just in the state of Nevada, but in the nation, where we need to start looking at social justice. We need to start looking at ensuring that we are (supporting) equality in every sense of the word,” Cannizzaro said.

Attention has been focused on police and criminal justice reform since the May 25 death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minnesota.

Some activists have made calls to “defund the police,” a catch‐all term for redirecting funds from police to other services, such as mental health care or housing.

Sisolak said he doesn’t think some issues, including criminal justice reform, can wait until the regular session of the Legislature in February.

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said he hopes legislators will take up election reform as well.

The state’s June primary was conducted almost entirely by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic, with three in-person voting locations in Clark County and one in-person voting location in the other counties.

The process led to delays in counting ballots and long lines at polling places.

Democrats in Nevada have been open about their concern about the November general election and how the pandemic could impact the process.

“I think that having people waiting in line to vote for seven hours is unacceptable, and with 30% turnout in the primary, it’s going to be much worse in a general election,” Frierson said.

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