Legislature approves anti-bullying bill backed by governor

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The Nevada Legislature has passed an omnibus anti-bullying measure supported by Gov. Brian Sandoval despite some lawmakers concerned that the process was rushed.

Assembly members voted 36-6 on Wednesday to approve SB 504, which was approved by the Senate in April. The measure now heads to Sandoval's desk for final approval and is likely to be signed into law.

The bill revises the definition of bullying and creates a separate anti-bullying office within the Nevada Department of Education. It would also strengthen reporting requirements for bullying incidents, and create a 24-hour hotline and a website for submitting complaints.

Sandoval's budget proposes allocating $36 million to hire one school social worker for every 250 students and execute anti-bullying office goals. State Superintendent Dale Erquiaga said that budget request will likely receive a final vote on Thursday.

Several Assembly Republicans complained they didn't have time to read the bill and wanted to delay the vote on the bill. Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen said moving the measure up for a vote was a "phony emergency measure" and asked for time to read the bill itself.

The measure was approved out of committee on Tuesday and moved to a contentious vote Wednesday, with five Republicans and one Democrat voting against the bill.

Democratic Minority Floor Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick said with the session nearing the end, lawmakers have a responsibility to come prepared to vote on every issue that might come up.

"We have a responsibility to the folks that are outside of this little vacuum to actually process legislation every single day," she said.

Republican Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus, who said he faced years of bullying and abuse in Los Angeles schools as a child, said he was upset that debate over the bill focused more on the process and less on the policy itself.

"This ended up becoming a political issue, where it really should have been about the kids," he said.

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