The 79th (2017) Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature is now in session. It began on Monday, February 6 and will end on June 5. The Nevada Legislature meets every other year in the state capital of Carson City for 120 consecutive days. This time frame is set by the Nevada constitution. Otherwise, special sessions can be called by the governor or by two-thirds of the legislature.

In the 2016 election, both Senate and Assembly flipped from majority Republican to majority Democrat. The governor and all other state constitutional officers are Republicans elected for four years in the 2014 election. It will be interesting to see how well this group plays together.

For links to more information about the Nevada State Legislature, elected members, legislative process and more, refer to “Nevada State Legislature in Carson City.”

Since Nevada’s first ever medical marijuana dispensary opened in Sparks in 2015, the industry has taken off in the Silver State. There are now no less than 11 such businesses between Washoe County and Carson City. Some are locally-owned operations while others are outlets attached to bigger outfits with stores in other parts of the state, particularly down south in Clark County (Las Vegas and vicinity). For a list of these medical marijuana dispensaries, addresses and phone numbers, refer to “Medical Marijuana in Reno and Sparks.”

Medical marijuana in Nevada will soon be joined by legal recreational pot. The “Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana” was passed by voters in the 2016 general election. It is anticipated that retail stores will begin opening around the end of 2017, once regulations and enforcement measures are in place. This should happen in a timely manner since the biennial Nevada State Legislature will be in session from February to June, 2017.

There will be some new laws in Nevada as a result of ballot measures passed by voters in the 2016 general election. In Washoe County, we are going to see a sales tax increase due to the passage of WC-1 on the November ballot. Nevada also bucked the national GOP trend in the last election, voting for Hillary Clinton and returning control of both houses of the Nevada State Legislature to Democrats. Former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto was elected over Joe Heck to fill the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Harry Reid. Nevada State Senator Ruben Kihuen beat incumbent Crescent Hardy for U.S. House of Representatives District 4. Both of the winners are Democrats.

WC-1 – Washoe County School District Capital Projects Funding Ballot Question
Passed. Authorizes the Washoe County Commission to impose a sales and use tax of 0.54 percent to fund only capital projects of Washoe County School District for the acquisition, construction, repair and renovation of school facilities. WC-1 increases the Washoe County sales tax rate from 7.725 percent to 8.265 percent, the highest in Nevada. The increase will likely be implemented in April, 2017.

State Question No. 1 – Expand Gun Background Checks
Passed. The measure requires firearm transfers to go through a licensed gun dealer for a background check. Temporary transfers and transfers between immediate family members are exempted from the measure.

(Update: The Nevada Attorney General has ruled that the measure is unenforceable since the FBI is refusing to do background checks due to lack of funding. Several Nevada sheriffs have said they will not enforce the law until the situation is resolved.)

State Question No. 2 – Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Passed. The measure legalizes and taxes the recreational use of one ounce or less of marijuana by individuals at least 21 years of age. Recreational marijuana stores won’t be open until various regulations are in place, estimated to be around the end of 2017. Medical marijuana was already legal in Nevada. There are numerous medical marijuana dispensaries in the Reno region.

State Question No. 3 – Establish an Open Electric Energy Market
Passed. Adds language to the Nevada Constitution requiring an open, competitive retail electric energy market that eliminates energy monopolies.

State Question No. 4 – Medical Patient Tax Relief
Passed. Requires the Legislature to exempt sales and use tax on durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for use by a licensed health care provider.

Sources: Nevada Secretary of State, Washoe County Registrar of Voters, Reno Gazette-Journal, Politico.