Bills on the SCS radar

If you’ve been reading the Siren lately, no doubt you’ve noticed my full support of a few bills — comprehensive sex ed and marriage equality, in particular — working through the Nevada Legislature right now. But there are plenty of other bills that are on my radar, too.

  • Breast cancer screening bill: Following the example of a handful of other states, including California, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Connecticut, AB147 (PDF) seeks to add a notification to mammogram patients with dense breast tissue that they are at an increased risk of breast cancer and could benefit from additional breast cancer screenings. The bill puts more information in a patient’s hands. With Angelina Jolie’s news of undergoing a double mastectomy because of her genetic markers for breast cancer, it is a timely bill, too. Hopefully, if this bill makes it through, it will come with some guarantee of access to screening tests for all Nevadans, regardless of income level. Because, as you all know, access is the name of the game. Speaking of access…
  • Bill to allow religion to block access: It’s deja vu all over again with SB192, a bill designed to allow individuals to use religion as a shield against doing their jobs as health care professionals. We’ve seen this chicanery before, back in 2005, when the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy mulled the idea of allowing pharmacists to opt-out of filling certain prescriptions (read: medications related to female reproductive health, including birth control, morning-after birth control, or even AIDS medications) based on their religious objections. Republican bill sponsor Sen. Barbara Cegavske, argues that this “protects religious liberties” by not forcing a person to act against their conscience while doing their job. But that’s just pillow talk, baby. The truth is, everyone’s religious freedoms are already addressed not only by the Bill of Rights, but by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Sooo… yeah. You’re covered. The only reason why a bill like this is surfacing is as a back-door way to disenfranchise people by restricting their access to all forms of legal health care, something that could be especially dangerous in small, rural communities in which there is little in the way of alternatives.
  • Big Mining could (maybe) pay its fair share: Senate Joint Resolution 15 (or SJR15) would remove a tax cap on mining that is inexplicably embedded in our state constitution. Right now, mining only pays a percent of taxes on royalties, not on anything as it comes out of the ground or even gross receipts. Gaming pays way more taxes than mining, even though mining is the second biggest industry in the state. SJR15 has passed the senate and is waiting in the Assembly. It’s definitely a David and Goliath story. Curious? Check this out to learn more.
  • Not so fast with the DNA: I tend to agree with the ACLU regarding SB243, a bill that would require the collection of DNA after a person is arrested for a felony. I know that some in the violence prevention agencies (domestic violence, sexual assault, et al) see this as an opportunity to catch people who do bad things and (potentially) keep them off the streets. But I can’t get over the idea that this is very real slippery slope violation of the presumption of innocence and of other rights. We can’t let our zeal to end violent crime — and I very much want to see an end to violent crime — be the enemy of what is right. There’s a better way. Certainly a way to not encourage a Big Brother state. (That’s an awful lot of trust to put in an agency that they will follow the rules and destroy DNA evidence if charges are dropped.)
  • Sex Ed: Okay, I couldn’t leave off some good coverage of AB230. Check out the Desert Beacon and CityLife. Plus, check out this blog post about that racist Sunday op-ed by Sherm Frederick.

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