The end of any legislative session can get a little chaotic.
In Carson City, they’re having end-of-session parties this weekend with adjournment coming no later than Monday, but the already passed Assembly Bill (AB) 209 still has not made its way to the Governor’s desk.
Asked Thursday whether Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has taken any action on AB 209 — making it legal to distribute raw milk statewide — press secretary Mary-Sarah Kinner told Food Safety News, “We will review the bill when we receive it.”
The Nevada Legislature’s website lists the bill’s status as of May 28 as “enrollment.” Typically that means getting the bill signed by the presiding officers of both legislative chambers before it is transmitted to the Governor.
When the bill is delivered to the Executive’s desk is important. If he receives it while the Legislature is still in session, he has five days to sign or veto the bill. If he does neither, it becomes law without his signature. If the Legislature is adjourned when the Governor receives the bill, he gets ten days to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.
AB 209 passed through both chambers of the Nevada Legislature with only a handful of votes against it, and won final passage on May 24. It’s now the missing element in a carefully drawn plan by a Nye County dairy to bring raw milk to Nevada’s sprawling Las Vegas market.
Late in 2012, the mammoth but sparsely populated Nye County established a milk commission empowered to allow local raw milk sales from the dairy. But without AB 209, it is illegal for Nye County raw milk to be distributed statewide.
Gov. Sandoval, a Republican and former federal judge, will now decide AB 209’s fate. The top state health officer appointed by the last three Governors including Sandoval opposed the bill in the Legislature without success. Current law allows raw milk approved for sale in California to be sold in Nevada, but that provision would go away if Sandoval opts to sign AB 209.
In addition to hearing how much his Legislature wants the bill signed into law, Sandoval is also hearing how badly the national dairy industry wants him to veto it. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) have urged Nevada’s chief executive to veto the measure.
The national dairy industry, representing pasteurized milk and pasteurized milk products, believes its food safety reputation is undercut by the numerous outbreaks caused by raw milk and raw milk products.
“Gambling with the health of your state’s residents –- particularly its children -– is a bad bet,” NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak said . “While choice is an important value, it should not pre-empt consumers’ well-being.”
He compared consumption of unpasteurized milk to a game of Russian roulette.
The dairy industry leaders are joining victims of raw milk caused illnesses to urge the Governor to veto AB 209.© Food Safety News