Sunday, June 25, 2017

Serious business facing Nevadans this legislative session

There may be some unusual legislation on tap, but lawmakers need to make time to address real issues that affect us all.

BY YVETTE WILLIAMS

YVETTE WILLIAMS Chair, Clark County Black Caucus

Pets might soon be able to use pot under a bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature this month by Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom, but of course it would require certification by a veterinarian. Although the jury is out on whether medical marijuana helps or hurts animals, SB372 would allow “pot for pets” — and seems a little ironic given the number of pet owners behind bars for “self-medicating” prior to Nevada legalizing medical marijuana in 2013.

From designating square dancing as the official dance of Nevada to pot for pets, this session has something for everyone. In particular, people of color could have a lot to celebrate if many bill draft requests (BDR) become Nevada law. Most bills emphasize equity in education, law enforcement and accountability, addressing employment discrimination and heightened access to economic development.

Unfortunately, without a Black legislator on the Senate Education Committee, there is a void in the Black student/parent perspective when decisions are made during committee work sessions. However, Republican Sen. Becky Harris has done a good job in welcoming advocates to the table and weighing in on the discussions.

Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Munford continues to serve on the Assembly Education Committee, and has reintroduced his multicultural education legislation (AB234). It would require that students be given information on contributions made by people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds — mandating inclusion in the curriculum and multicultural training for teachers. The black community has lobbied for this legislation for several years, and showed up in support during a recent committee hearing at the Grant Sawyer Building. Joining the Clark County Black Caucus (CCBC) in testimony was Trustee Dr. Linda Young, civil rights legend Dr. Robert Green, and other Black activists. Also, speaking in support: Nevada Department of Education Superintendent Dale Erquiaga and several others.

Although this is by no means an all-inclusive list, a few bills of particular interest include AB162 (the use of portable event recording devices by law enforcement); AB107 (equity in education accountability for public schools); AB12 (continuation of the diversion program that allows treatment for alcohol or drug abuse or mental illness in lieu of revocation of probation); SB252 (state business license fee to fund education); SB319 (restore voting rights); and various voter identification bills in both the Assembly and Senate.

Although it is a difficult task, with hundreds of new bills introduced each week, the CCBC does its best to identify legislation most relevant to quality of life for black Nevadans. A current list can be found at www.CCBlackCaucus.com, and it is updated regularly as bills are introduced.

The CCBC is a 100% volunteer organization, which regularly provides testimony and data/statistical information to the Nevada Legislature. It invites members of the community to participate, and the website provides information on how the community can have its voice heard by engaging elected representatives.

Yvette Williams is the Chair/ Founder of the Clark County Black Caucus, a non-partisan community organization of concerned Nevada registered voters. She can be reached at ClarkCountyBlackCaucus@gmail.com.

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