LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Legislation brought to the Nevada Senate floor on Wednesday revives an effort to outlaw many types of housing discrimination after Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak vetoed the bill last session.
Assembly Bill 254 (AB254) passed the Senate and Assembly in 2021, but Sisolak raised concerns that the legislation went too far, and would tie the hands of landlords who had legitimate reasons for blocking someone from living at their property. He argued that the bill put more responsibility on the state for significant costs of prosecuting cases — costs the federal government now carries.
The legislation, sponsored last year by Las Vegas Democrat Dina Neal, prohibits asking about the criminal history of someone applying to rent a house or apartment, and narrowly defines crimes that are exceptions. Sisolak’s three-page letter explaining his veto said the legislation could force a landlord to rent to a known drug dealer.
Some prospective renters are an “unacceptable danger to other tenants,” Sisolak wrote.
The language of the bill Sisolak vetoed also exempts corporate owners.
Such arguments could lead to further refinements of the legislation before it is put to a vote.
Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, the former sheriff of Clark County, is likely to oppose legislation that gives more rights to criminals.
The legislation was intended to write further protections against discrimination into state law and provide civil penalties and other remedies when those protections are violated, according to information summarizing the bill on the Legislature’s website.
Housing became a very sticky issue under Sisolak’s administration after executive orders prevented anyone from eviction for months during the pandemic. While that kept people from being homeless after they were laid off, it also stretched on after the eviction moratorium was extended several times — costing landlords a fortune.