Reader RH writes:
With Republicans sweeping both houses of the Nevada legislature and retaining the Governor and Lt. Governor seats in November’s election, the Las Vegas Review Journal opined “2015 could be year of the gun at Nevada Legislature.” And indeed it started out that way. A dozen or so pro-gun bills flooded the floor early on in the 2015 session including hot topic legislation such as constitutional carry, campus carry, and even a “pop tart” bill that would prohibit schools disciplining students for eating pastries into the shape of a gun. But an unconfirmed rumor is spreading around the Carson City capitol that most, if not all, of these gun bills may be in jeopardy due to a split in the GOP caucuses over tax policy. The “2015 year of the gun” may turn into the “2015 could’ve should’ve would’ve year of the gun.” . . .
The rumor first came to light publicly in an April 22nd blog post by Republican Assemblyman Pat Hickey entitled “Mount St. Michele.” Hickey describes a late night meeting between Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and Governor Brian Sandoval to discuss unknown issues and alleges that Fiore has been quietly signaling that she would drop opposition to the Governor’s tax and budget plans if he would in turn support her gun bills.
This is a startling allegation because not only has Michele Fiore been the Queen of Gun Rights in Nevada this legislative session, having sponsored at least 10 separate pro-gun bills, she’s also been viewed as the unofficial leader of a group of Republicans working to kill Sandoval’s $1.1 billion tax increase for the next biennium budget. For a staunch conservative, a $1.1 billion increase in a Nevada-sized state is no easy pill to swallow. If 2013 Census records are to be believed, that’s an increase of approximately $550 per year per Nevadan household although most of the taxes are being pushed onto businesses.
On her weekly radio show, Walk The Talk with Michele Fiore, she denied that any such meeting took place with the Governor and reaffirmed her pledge not to raise taxes saying she would never try to barter gun legislation over taxes. For those who hold gun rights far more important than taxes, that could be bad news because Fiore’s not known to be wishy washy with what she says. She’s viewed as quite the firebrand willing to do and say exactly what’s on her mind. You may recall the national headlines and TTAG’s quote of the day where Fiore, talking about her campus carry bill to the New York Times said:
“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
So if Michele Fiore is claiming the quid pro quo trade of tax increases for gun rights bills wasn’t on the table, but Pat Hickey, the 2013 session Republican Minority Leader, says it was, who are we to believe and where did this rumor come from?
I talked with a staff member for a legislator in Carson City (who didn’t want to be identified since the rumor is unconfirmed) who shed a little light on it. Fiore is leading the fight against the Governor’s tax increase in the Nevada Assembly, but the Republican-controlled Nevada Senate has already approved the tax increases in a 17-4 vote. That bill now goes to the Assembly for their consideration where tax bills must be approved by a 2/3s vote for passage. Fiore is fighting hard against it and she only needs 15 of 43 members to vote no to block it.
However, Fiore was a sponsor of seven pro-gun bills that have made it out of the Assembly and now need the more moderate Senate’s approval. The Nevada legislature only meets for four months, once every two years and they’re on strict schedules to get bills passed. If her gun bills aren’t heard and voted on in their respective Senate committees by May 15th and then voted on by the full Senate by May 21st, they’re dead.
But the Senate committees don’t even have to bring them up for a hearing. The rumor, unconfirmed as it is, is that unknown Republican Senators are putting pressure on other Republican Senators not to allow Fiore’s bills to be heard — and not to vote for them if they are — all in an attempt to persuade Fiore to drop her opposition to the tax bill the Senators and Governor are supporting.
Although this is just a rumor, it puts gun rights supporters in quite a quandary due to the strict and fast-approaching legislative deadlines. Normally it would be best practice to wait and see if the rumors are true or not before taking action, but in this case, if they are true, by the time it’s known for sure it could be too late to do anything about this. These bills need to be heard at least once and then voted on in their Senate committees by May 15th. As of this writing, none of the bills are scheduled for hearings in committee, despite having been waiting for nearly two weeks and with less than two weeks left before the deadline.
It’s not a smart move to wait for the Senate to schedule these things, because they already let SB143, Nevada’s constitutional carry bill, die in committee without a vote prior to the April 10th deadline for first house passage. No public comments have been made for why that bill was allowed to die.
If you’re a concerned gun rights advocate and a Nevadan, you may want to take some immediate action to contact specific Republicans in the Senate to make sure they schedule the bills for a hearing. Emails are easy for anybody to zip off in a hurry, and we also strongly encourage you to call.
Again, the rumors are unconfirmed, so please be respectful when emailing and calling these Senators and assume the particular Senator you’re contacting has every intention of doing the right thing and bringing these bills up for a vote and/or supporting them. Emails can be sent any time, (in fact send them right now) and phone calls can be made during typical business hours. Phone calls take about 30 seconds, and you’ll most likely only be able talk to a secretary or aid. That’s fine, they take notes and pass your messages to the Senators. Just ask them to support the Assembly gun bills and work to have them brought up for a vote in Committee.
Have the bill numbers handy.
AB139, AB148, AB352, AB357, and AB404 are in the Senate Judiciary.
- AB139 – Nevada recognizes reciprocity of ALL other states concealed carry permits
- AB148 – The campus carry bill, allows people to leave a gun in their car when parked at schools, and allows licensed CCW holders to carry weapons on campus.
- AB352 – Allows you to conceal carry in the same government buildings where open carry is already allowed anyway.
- AB357 – Allows non-violent offenders a pathway to restore gun rights and other constitutional rights after a period of time and after meeting certain requirements proving they’re not likely to abuse those rights.
- AB404 – Extends validity of expired CCW permits where the only reason it expired is the renewal application is still being reviewed. Also creates a shall sign provision by local law enforcement for NFA items such as silencers and short barrel rifles since the FBI is already doing an extensive background check on the applicant anyway.
The Senate Republicans to call and email on the Judiciary, in order of importance, are:
Senator Greg Brower – Judiciary Chair. He’s the one that schedules the hearings.
Michael Roberson – Senate Majority Leader, Judiciary Member
Becky Harris – Judiciary Co-Chair
Scott Hammond – Senate Co-Majority Whip, Judiciary Member
Also, in the Senate Natural Resources committee is AB136, allowing bow and black powder hunters to also carry a pistol for personal protection while hunting. Please contact:
Don Gustavson – Natural Resources Committee Chair
And in the Senate Health and Human Services committee is AB167 which would remove limitations that keep CCW holders from being foster parents and discriminated against. Please contact:
Joe Hardy – Health and Human Services Committee Chair
Again, please be respectful, assume they’re good people wanting to vote on and support these bills, and please continue to follow-up with these senators until the bills are scheduled for a hearing. You can check the status on these bills and these committees daily here.