This Blog continues our series of reviewing and explaining the many new laws passed in Nevada by the legislature in the 2021 session. This blog will focus on bills involving the civil rights of the citizens of our state. As an overview the legislature was definitely conscious of the events that have rocked our nation during the past two years including the death of George Floyd and the many other police involved killings and the pattern of discrimination by state and local governments. These events have spurred our country to rise up and protest during the past two years. These actions by our legislature prove that this a movement and not just a demonstration. These protests have yielded changes in our laws at the city, county, state and even at the federal level. The loud voices of people taking to the streets in support of civil rights spurred Nevada lawmakers to act. There was a new level of consciousness in Carson City. There was a recognition. injustices that have been taking place in recent years and a calling to act.
With these events in mind the legislature passed assembly bills 58, 115, 157, 207, and 327, aimed at combating discrimination by public officials based on race color religion sexual orientation or other discriminatory reasons.
Assembly Bill 58: Assembly Bill 58 allows the Attorney General of the state of Nevada to investigate a “pattern and practice” of state and local agencies that are accused of discriminatory behavior. The statute also goes on to protect any state officers or employees or local government officers from retaliation for reporting or disclosing a pattern or practice of conduct that is discriminatory. The statute goes so far as to requiring the Attorney General’s office to cooperate with any investigation by the Department of Justice regarding anyone in the Attorney General ‘s office has engaged in a practice or pattern of depriving certain groups of people of their civil rights, privileges, and/or immunities. The statute provides for subpoena power of the Attorney General to compel the attendance of witnesses in the production of relevant evidence. If a witness refuses to cooperate or attend or testify that witness can be found in contempt and the appropriate sanctions can apply Including incarceration
Effective October 1, 2021. https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/81st2021/Bill/7311/Text
Assembly Bill 115: This bill allows for multi-parent adoptions without removing another parent from the birth certificate. The bill goes on to acknowledge the parental rights of same-sex parents, surrogates, and divorced parents. Previous law in this area allowed for the adoption of a child by in adult or married couple by petition of the court. This bill provides, instead, that one or more adults may petition the court for adoption of a child. The new law eliminates the marriage reference. The basic purpose of the law is to conform to our changing society that more than two parents may have a legal relationship with a child.
The law also contains the provision that upon petition, a statement must be filed with the court that there are no known signs that the child is currently experiencing victimization from human trafficking, exploitation, or abuse. The sad and horrific human trafficking issue was of significant importance in the legislature of 2021 and is reflected in many different provisions and bills past that are aimed at increasing penalties for sex trafficking as well prevention.
Assembly Bill 157: This bill 157 Gives people the right to file a civil lawsuit against someone who calls the police on them based solely upon their race, color, religion, or another discriminatory reason. This is another bill that arises out of events of the past two years of the many sad videos that have a appeared online and on YouTube showing racist or bigoted people calling the police on innocent citizens simply by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin. It is sad that such a measure has to be passed into law, but protecting civil rights is the foundation of our nation and our State Legislature acted to protect Nevadans.
Effective October 1, 2021.
Assembly Bill 207: This bill 207 provides that businesses in Nevada that offer goods and services online through an Internet website, mobile app, or any electronica medium are considered to be places of public accommodation. The practicality of this bill has yet to be seen. I am uncertain as to how it can be enforced or how an Internet-based business does not, on its face, provide service to persons with disabilities. It is likely that the representative who presented this bill encountered a situation or had constituents encounter a situation where they could not engage internet services because of their disability. Effective October 1, 2021.
Senate Bill 327: This bill amends the civil rights statute to include the prevention of discrimination based upon racially or ethnically distinctive traits such as hairstyles. The bill expands the definition of race to include traits associated with race for purposes of discrimination within the state. The bill goes as far as to prohibit a dress code that requires students to wear uniforms that discriminate against students based on race. The bill prohibits discrimination based upon traits associated with race for enrollment in charter schools, Universities or any institution of higher education in Nevada.
Assembly Bill 327 is a somewhat vast amendment to the existing statute to combat systemic racism in the hiring practices in cities and municipalities as well as in the schools. Section 8 of this bill requires that government agencies that require testing for employment or promotion must now use a third-party independent testing agency to administer such tests. In addition, the third-party agency conducting the test must send each employee who takes the test a confidential electronic mail message that contains the employees test score. The third-party must also send the employees test score to the employee and the governing body of the city or city officer at the same time. The governing body or city officer shall not produce a list of the employees who took the test ranked in order of their scores until after the third-party which conducted the test has sent each employee his or her test score. The employee who feels the testing process was not fair can appeal the score based upon how the test was graded, which questions were missed. The statute goes on to really have some teeth by making a felony for any person who tampers with the test scores of employees. This is a substantial penalty and clearly is based upon a systemic institutionalized discriminatory practice of testing being administered by other city employees or graded in a discriminatory manner.
Effective October 1, 2021.
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