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Mixed Bag for Progressive Priorities in NV Legislative Session

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021   

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Progressive groups are describing the just-ended legislative session as a rollercoaster year, with both victories and defeats.

State lawmakers passed a landmark bill to get the ball rolling on a public option for health care, which would allow Nevadans to buy into a state-run plan by 2027. Annette Magnus, executive director of the nonprofit Battle Born Progress, said more than 11% of Nevadans have no health insurance.

"We're trying to give Nevadans an additional option, because a lot of people don't qualify for Medicaid but they need a more affordable option," she said. "It will also allow small businesses to give their employees cheaper health insurance."

Opponents of a public option have said it's too expensive.

Progressives also are celebrating passage of a bill to ban the sale or manufacture of so-called "ghost gun" kits that allow people to make weapons that are impossible to trace, since they have no serial number. Voting-rights groups were pleased with the passage of bills to ditch the caucus system in favor of a presidential preference primary, to allow voting by mail in all future elections, and to expand automatic voter registration.

Magnus said the season's biggest disappointment for the progressive camp came when a bill to abolish the death penalty failed to get a hearing or a vote in the state Senate.

"We should not be investing in state-sanctioned murder, essentially," she said, "and there's a financial component to it. It costs millions upon millions of dollars to keep a death chamber we've never used."

Activists for criminal-justice reform were pleased, however, by the passage of a bill to decriminalize traffic tickets. This means that, starting in January 2023, people cannot be thrown in jail for unpaid traffic-ticket debt.

Disclosure: Battle Born Progress - Institute for a Progressive Nevada contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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