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Nevada Lawmakers Work to Override Gibbons' Record Setting Vetoes

June 1, 2009

Carson City, NV – Nevada lawmakers are working their way through Governor Jim Gibbons' record-setting pile of more than 40 vetoed bills today, debating which ones deserve to be kept alive by legislative override. Among the measures Gibbons shot down is a bill (AB 491) that aims to help people who are in debt in Nevada.

Stefanie Ebbens, staff attorney for the Consumer Rights Project of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, says this bill would take money that is already exempt from being garnished and exempt it automatically. Right now, she says, people who are deep in debt have to wait.

"So people who have federal Social Security, disability, SSI; they have no access to any funds whatsoever, can't pay their rent, can't buy food; it's just impoverishing the most vulnerable people in the state of Nevada."

Governor Gibbons vetoed the bill because he says it makes it more difficult for businesses to recover money that is owed to them. Ebbens disagrees and says the people in debt are going to get these exemptions anyway.

Ebbens says the bill would make a 2,000 dollar exemption automatic for the poorest Nevadans who receive federal benefits. It would also make the current 1,000 dollar exemption automatic for all other debtors in Nevada.

"These are exemptions that are in existence, and it just makes it a more streamlined process, so the creditors, the courts, the constables, everybody knows up front that these funds are exempt, rather than running through levying the bank account, having the court rule on it - only to have all of those funds returned."

Members of the Senate were working over the weekend to over-ride that veto. The Assembly voted unanimously Sunday to override Gibbons' veto of another consumer protection measure, which concerns civil penalties for deceptive trade practices. The fate of that measure is now up to the Senate.

The fate of a third bill (AB 318) was undecided at deadline. It calls for disclosure of arbitration costs in consumer contracts.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV