CARSON CITY — A bill that would have rewritten Nevada’s water laws, prompting rural and conservation interests who opposed it to raise the specter of long-standing plans to send eastern Nevada’s water to Las Vegas, died Friday after weeks of strained negotiations finally collapsed for good.
Saved virtually at the bell Friday — the last day for bills not given an exemption to pass in their second legislative house — was Assembly Bill 139, which would raise the age to marry in Nevada to 18. A last-minute amendment adding certain exceptions for 17-year-olds to marry brought the bill to the Senate floor for a vote at the end of a daylong flurry of action in both houses on more than 150 bills. The bill passed the Senate 15-4.
Winning its first house passage was Assembly Bill 538, a revenue measure that is key to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s proposed $8.8 billion general fund budget. The bill, which would generate nearly $100 million over the next two years by putting off a scheduled reduction in a business payroll tax, passed the Assembly on a party-line vote, 27-12.
Water bill goes down the drain
Assembly Bill 30 would have clarified the state engineer’s ability to use monitoring, management and mitigation plans, or so-called 3m plans, a change the state hoped would help stave off the lawsuits that often follow decisions to issue or deny water permits.
The water bill faced a tough road from its first hearing in February, with environmentalists, farmers, tribal groups and rural agencies raising concerns about the wide impact the bill could have on senior water rights holders.
Despite the breakdown in negotiations that led to the bill’s demise on Friday, stakeholders are planning to work together over the next 18 months to hash out potential water policy changes.