Tens of thousands of Nevada immigrants living in the United States without legal permission will be able to get behind the wheel and travel the roads of the Silver State legally under a new law that takes effect with the new year.
SB 303 was passed overwhelmingly by the 2013 Nevada Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Nevada’s first governor of Hispanic descent. It’s one of 45 news laws that took effect Jan. 1.
Starting Thursday, the Department of Motor Vehicles will begin taking applications for and issuing driver authorization cards to Nevada residents who cannot meet citizenship requirements for a standard driver’s license or identification card.
The law specifically prohibits the DMV from using or sharing information for immigration enforcement purposes. Nevada becomes one of 13 states and the District of Columbia with programs or plans to offer similar cards.
Backers say the Nevada law will make roads safer because motorists who can’t currently get driver’s licenses because they lack U.S. citizenship will take a driving test, get insurance and drive legally. Program fees are expected to cover costs. The cards are good for one year and cannot be used for official identification.
Kevin Malone, spokesman for the DMV in Las Vegas, said the agency doesn’t know what to expect when the office opens Jan. 2 and the new cards become available.
“We’re honestly not expecting to see huge crowds in the first few days, but we don’t know,” Malone said.
Authorization cards are not the only new laws taking effect:
– Licenses for most drivers will now be good for eight years instead of four. People born in even-number years will receive an eight-year license when they next renew it. Those with an odd-year birthday will receive a four-year license if they renew through 2017. Renewals after that will be for eight years. Drivers age 65 and older will only be renewed for four years.
– Out-of-state businesses operating vehicles in Nevada also will be required to obtain nonresident permits for those vehicles starting Jan. 1. The law applies to vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds. The cost for permits is $200 for the first vehicle and $150 for each additional one. Vehicles weighing more are already required to obtain permits, and interstate truck and bus lines pay apportioned fees under a separate law.
– Government watchers should have an easier time keeping tabs on elected and appointed officials under a new law requiring the Department of Administration to establish a directory of all public bodies in state, where meeting notices and agendas will be posted. Local governments, however, have another six months to get on board.
– Bottles and sippy cups designed for use by young children cannot knowingly be sold, manufactured or distributed if they contain intentionally added bisphenol A, a chemical used in plastics. On July 1, the law extends the prohibition to baby food and infant formula containers.
– Companies that want to focus on the environment or social causes can now organize in Nevada as a benefit corporation and take away the fear of shareholder lawsuits. Typically, companies are liable to their shareholders for how they handle the company’s assets. Under the new law, benefit corporations can direct money and assets toward other causes without exposing executives to possible litigation for not focusing entirely on profits.
– Nevada hopes to attract the interest of Hollywood with a pilot project that offers transferable tax credits for film productions. Projects with a minimum budget of $500,000 can apply to the state for tax credits, which can then be sold to other companies. The bill imposes a $20 million cap on tax credits that can be awarded over the next five years, when lawmakers will review it again.
– Anyone taking the driver’s license exam will be asked about Nevada’s law prohibiting texting or using a hand-held cellphone while driving. The test question was mandated by the 2013 Legislature.
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