Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fingerprints on the 'Tyranny Protection Act' - Nevada's SB 150

This is a cursory case study in the creation of bad law. In the past couple of days I’ve pieced together partial picture of the personalities behind Nevada’s Senate Bill 150, which I have relabeled the ‘Tyranny Protection Act’. This would be law is designed to criminalize any complaint made against government employees, should another public employee deem it false.


Let me not sound too alarmist about this insult to the First Amendment and to the concept of Equal Protection. In the opinion of one long time associate who is active within Nevada legislative circles, the bill’s ultimate death is a virtual certainty. While I consider this gentleman's view qualified, I'll suggest that it pays to be vigilant. If we assume its demise, we do so at our peril.

One reason to be on guard: The Tyranny Protection Act has the support of two powerful unions representing publicly paid workers, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association and the Nevada State Education Association.

Besides giving you a sense of the bill's history, this article is also intended to serve as a 'contact sheet' for those of you who are inclined to chastise the lawmakers responsible for giving SB 150 life and to persuade those who now have the power to extinguish it. Just follow the links provided below for the various legislators.

Revision, 04/03/05: On this date, it was indicated in a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial that Senator Maggie Carlton is the one who generated this legislation. Subsequently, the chairman of the Senate’s Governmental Affairs Committee, Warren Hardy brought it to the attention of his colleagues on February 28, 2005, saying that he ” . . . had a Bill Draft Request that needed to be introduced.” There is no record of any discussion, just that Randall Townsend so moved, supported with a second by Vice Chair SandraTiffany. The motion passed unanimously.


Thus, the sponsorship of SB 150 can be attributed to the entire committee, the remaining members including two of Senate's most powerful, Republican majority honcho WilliamRaggio and Democrat minority honchette DinaTitus, along with TerryCare and JohnLee. All were present at this session and any one of these elected officials had the option to try nipping this tripe in the bud. From all indications no one stood up in opposition, thereby sanctioning a waste of additional time and money. This entire crew deserves a chorus of boos.


On March 1, 2005, the Tyranny Protection Act made it to the floor of the legislature, as planned. It was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it still sits as I write this piece. The legislation was on the March 10 agenda of this body, with no action taken. Minutes are not available for this particular gathering or any of this panel's meetings since SB 150 was received.

Looking at the upcoming meetings of the Judiciary Committee, there is no indication that the bill is slated for discussion. This group's membership includes Terry Care from Government Affairs, along with Chairman Mark Amodei, Vice Chair Maurice Washington, MikeMcGinness, Dennis Nolan, Valerie Wiener and Steven Horsford .


The individuals on this committee need to know your perspective and to be aware that their decisions regarding the Tyranny Protection Act are being watched.


Previous articles on this topic, containing contributions from Ms. Juli Alexander, are available for your perusal. One is titled Stifling Citizen Complaints and the other The Tyranny Protection Act: More on SB 150.


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