Upcoming Guinn Center Event (April 21, 2015)
On Tuesday, April 21, the Guinn Center, in partnership with the UNLV Boyd School of Law, College of Southern Nevada, Accion Nevada, and the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, will host an open town hall meeting to review the current tax policy proposals (SB252, SB378, and AB464). Tax policy experts will review the tax proposals and discuss the legislative process. Panelists include: Guinn Center Executive Director Dr. Nancy E. Brune and Director of Education Policy Victoria Carreón, UNLV William S. Boyd Law Professor Francine J. Lipman, former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, and former State Senator Randolph Townsend. Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2015; Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Location: CSN West Charleston Campus, 6375 W. Charleston, Vegas, 89146, Bldg. K, Rm 101
To RSVP or ask questions: email@example.com, 702-522-2178
The event is free and open to the public.
Women in the Nevada Legislature
For many years, the Nevada Legislature has ranked highly among the states with its percentage of women legislators. According to a chart from LCB, over the last 11 sessions since 1995, an average of almost one third of the total number of legislators were female—ranging from 18 in the 2003, 2011 and 2013 sessions; to a high of 23 in 1999; and the current 21 women, or one-third of the membership, in the 2015 session (five in the Senate and 16 in the Assembly).
Nationwide, 24.2 percent of all legislators and 29 percent of legislators in the Western states are women. In 2015, Nevada is tied with Minnesota at 33.3 percent for fourth place among all states with the highest percentage of female legislators, following Colorado (42 percent), Vermont (41.1 percent), and Arizona (35.6 percent). A new Fact Sheet from the LCB Research Division contains detailed historical sections about the legislative service, leadership, firsts, families and other information about women in the Nevada Legislature.
By the end of the tenth week, 486 Assembly bills and 509 Senate bills had been introduced. Of the total 995 bills introduced in the Legislature by the end of the tenth week, 421 were committee introductions that essentially are controlled by the majority party in each House, and 574 were introduced by individual Legislators.
The bills introduced by Legislators may be co-sponsored by other lawmakers. An indicator of bipartisanship is the number of bills that attract co-sponsors from the other party. Among the current, total 574 legislator bills, 123 (21.4 percent) were bipartisan in that they included one or more co-sponsors from the opposite party. Among the 294 Senate bills in that category, 51 (17.3 percent) were bipartisan. Among the similar 280 Assembly bills, there were 72 (25.7 percent) that featured bipartisan support.
Note: Bills going forward may be designated as (R1), (R2), and so forth to indicate the First or Second Reprints, etc. that reflect the latest amended versions that have been adopted by the respective Houses during the legislative process.
Committee Hearings and Actions (Tenth Week)
On Monday, April 6
AWM heard supplemental appropriations and other bills. AB12 makes permanent the diversion program for certain probation violators to receive treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, or mental illness. AB439 would have made a supplemental appropriation of $303,867 to the Office of the Military for an unanticipated shortfall, but it was determined there was no need for the measure and it was withdrawn with no action taken. AB467 makes a supplemental appropriation of $1,224,571 to the Department of Corrections for an unanticipated shortfall relating to prison medical care. An amendment was provided to clarify that the appropriation applied to outside medical and medical supplies costs. AB468 makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Corrections for shortfalls in projected personnel costs. An amendment was submitted to increase the appropriation to $2,581,245 and make it apply to a shortfall in projected revenue, personnel, utility, building maintenance, and inmate driven costs. And AB472 relates to the Nevada National Guard and payments from the Patriot Relief Account in the General Fund to eliminate reimbursements for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance premiums and limit to $1,000 per semester the repayment for textbooks for members enrolled within the Nevada System of Higher Education.
SCL considered two bills and a proposed constitutional amendment. SJR14 would amend the Nevada Constitution to prohibit the State or local governments from establishing a health insurance exchange. Several documents were submitted in favor and opposition (see Exhibits), and it was noted that adoption of the amendment would default the provision of health insurance in this State to the Federal Exchange. SB259 requires employers to provide paid sick leave, which generated significant discussion in support and opposition. SB353 prohibits mental health practitioners from providing sexual orientation conversion therapy to minors. Testimony was presented, along with a document that listed policy and position statements on conversion therapy from a variety of professional practitioner associations.
SLOE conducted a work session on four bills and two joint resolutions, and the work session document contains explanations of the bills and the adopted amendments. SB274 was amended and approved to enact provisions governing the State’s delegates to any Federal constitutional conventions called by the states to be designated by the Legislature when in session and the Legislative Commission when not in session. The amendment removes a prohibition on a registered lobbyist from serving as a delegate. SB293 was approved, along with a staff technical amendment, relating to the disposition of unspent campaign contributions by a person who does not become a candidate within 4 years of receiving a contribution. SB307 was approved relating to public officers and candidate for public office to clarify definitions and establish other requirements for Nevada’s Lobbying Disclosure Act and the Financial Disclosures Act. SB421 was amended and approved to move the date of the statewide primary from the second Tuesday in June to, as amended, the third Tuesday in February. SJR21 was slightly amended and approved to urge Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform, and SJR20 was approved to urge the President and Congress to support the participation of the Republic of China on Taiwan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Additionally, SLOE heard SB434 that makes various changes relating to initiative and referendum petitions that include their filing, preparation of the title and description of effect, revisions to the single subject requirement, and other modifications to the process. A friendly amendment from the Attorney General’s office was submitted for consideration. Some opposition was expressed concerning the cost, complications, and effects on smaller groups for successfully initiating an initiative petition under this process. The Secretary of State’s Office was neutral and indicated a fiscal note was under development.
AED heard AB421, which creates the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission for public education and the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). The Commission is charged with recommending ways in which (1) costs may be reduced; (2) efficiencies may be found; and (3) education may be improved. NSHE opposed the measure because it asserts that these duties are under the purview of the Board of Regents. NSHE also provided information on current efforts to achieve efficiencies. CCSD testified neutral on the bill.
AED also considered AB447, which makes revisions to the Nevada Educator Performance Framework (NEPF). The bill: (1) revises the student outcomes portion of the NEPF to be 25 percent from state assessments and 25 percent from district assessments; and (2) delays implementation of the NEPF from FY 2016 to FY 2017. The Department of Education submitted testimony based on the following recommendations from the Teachers and Leaders Council: (1) include the supervisors of principals in the NEPF; (2) provide fiscal support for development and use of a statewide technology platform; (3) allow a one year extension to determine how to evaluate “Other Licensed Educational Personnel” under the NEPF; (4) clarify that probationary employees receive three observation cycles instead of three evaluations; (5) reduce student outcomes measures from 50 percent to 40 percent of the NEPF; (6) revise the student outcomes portion of the NEPF to be half from state assessments and half from district assessments; and (7) delay the use of student outcomes for personnel decisions until at least FY 2017. The Nevada State Education Association testified neutral on the proposal.
AED held a work session on four bills: AB120, AB221, AB278, and AB285.
The Committee amended and approved AB120, which clarifies the rights of public school pupils concerning the free exercise of religion. Assemblywomen Joiner and Swank, and Assemblyman Flores voted against the bill. The amendment simplifies the bill by providing a statement that a pupil in a public school may express him or herself in a manner consistent with religious rights guaranteed under the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as long as such expressions are not disruptive of instructional time, used to bully or intimidate, or are directly or indirectly endorsed by the school. It also requires the school district to have an anti-discrimination grievance policy in place for pupils to register complaints concerning restrictions upon such expressions that may be in conflict with the provisions set forth in the bill.
The Committee amended and approved AB221, which revises provisions governing the collection, maintenance, use, and security of data collected concerning public school pupils. The amendment makes technical changes and reflects the consensus of the bill sponsor, Clark County School District, and Nevada Connections Academy.
The Committee amended and approved AB278, which revises provisions related to class size reduction. The bill requires the Department of Education to develop policies and procedures concerning the monitoring and distribution of funds to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio, and provide guidance to school districts concerning the class-size reduction program. The amendment would require a supplemental audit of how school districts used class reduction funds under the “plus two” program. This provision allowed school districts to increase class sizes by two pupils above state requirements in 2013-2015 for grades 1 through 3, and use the funds to minimize the impact of budget reductions on class sizes in grades 4 through 12.
Lastly, AED amended and approved AB285, which revises provisions relating to the self-administration of certain diabetes medications in public schools. The amendment requires schools to establish safety protocols and provides immunity from liability for the school district and its personnel for problems or injuries arising from the self-administration of such medication.
On Tuesday, April 7
AWM closed budgets for the Division of Minerals, and for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development that included the Nevada Film Office, Rural Community Development, Procurement Outreach Program, the State Small Business Credit Initiative Program, and the Nevada Knowledge Fund.
SFIN heard SB314 which is a priority of the Southern Nevada Forum to reform the governance structure of the Southern Nevada Health District. The bill revises the composition of the District’s Board to reduce its membership from 14 to 11 voting members, and provides for a district administrative director and a public health advisory board. The measure was opposed by the Health District based on concerns with generalities and the administrative position. In work session, SFIN approved as amended both SB93 (R1) relating to tax abatements for aircraft businesses, and SB170 (R1) concerning tax abatements for new or expanding data centers and related businesses. The committee also closed the budget of the Division of Minerals, and rolled to its Friday meeting the closing of the budgets for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Tax and Revenue Committees
ATAX heard AB464 which is the Assembly hybrid tax reform proposal that focuses on the modified business tax. Testimony included a presentation and tables on the rationale and effects of the measure. The Guinn Center provided testimony that compared the effective rates for various categories of businesses among this bill and the other current and previous tax reform proposals. In a later work session, the Chairman declared the measure to be a living document with amendments pending, and the committee re-referred the bill to AWM without recommendation for further consideration.
ATAX then considered AB393 to revise and clarify provisions relating to the live entertainment tax (LET) on facilities at licensed gaming establishments, and AB392 to provide for a Luxury Discretionary Spending Tax for nongaming properties on admission and amusement services. The intent of these measures is to clean up interpretations of the LET, broaden the base and lower its rate. The committee re-referred both bills to AWM with no recommendation to allow for further working group discussions, along with SB266 in SREV.
In work session, ATAX amended and recommended passage of certain other bills that included AB161 to provide partial abatements from certain taxes for aircraft businesses, which is a priority of the Southern Nevada Forum. The amendments to this measure made it identical to SB93 which was passed by the Senate.
SREV considered four bills. SB381 creates the Nevada Task Force on Financial Security to conduct a comprehensive examination during the interim period of the financial security of individuals and families in the State. The Task Force would be funded with grants and gifts at no cost to the State and a report provided for the next legislative session. A summary of the bill was presented, along with a State Profile of Nevada showing its ranking in financial security, and testimony and an overview from the Opportunity Alliance Nevada. The Guinn Center provided testimony highlighting analytical information and its recommendations for the Task Force. SB266 revises provisions relating to the live entertainment tax to clarify interpretations, establish an admission fee as the cause for the tax to be paid, and exclude ambient entertainment. Amendments are under consideration in conjunction with a working group to be conducted with two related bills, AB392 and AB393 in ATAX. SB275 establishes an Account for the Treatment of Substance Abusers to fund such programs and establishes a 4-year pilot program for heroin-assisted treatment in the Division of Public and Behavioral Health. The measure includes increases in liquor, cigarette, and gaming license fees and a total $150 million appropriation for the biennium that is not in the proposed Executive Budget. Finally, SREV heard SB346 to provide a credit against the modified business tax for the employer costs of day care provided to the children of their employees. The credit would be up to 50 percent of the employer’s cost and not to exceed $2,500 per employee per year. There was no testimony in support or opposition.
SED heard four bills: SB503, SB391, SB405, and SB430. SB503 would provide $2 million for schools for start-up costs to implement Breakfast After the Bell Programs. The Department of Agriculture presented the bill and provided a tentative list of eligible schools. The Department also proposed an amendment, which limits the program to schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of 70 percent or higher. The Guinn Center testified in support of the measure based on our report Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? The Guinn Center presented analysis showing that schools that have implemented Breakfast after the Bell have higher participation rates than schools that offer traditional breakfast programs. There was no opposition to the bill.
SB391 would provide $27 million over the biennium to implement the Governor’s Read by 3 initiative. As proposed to be amended, this bill requires early identification and intervention for struggling readers. It also requires retention for students in third grade if they do not meet proficiency guidelines. The bill places a strong emphasis on professional development and requires each elementary school to employ a learning strategist. The Clark County School District submitted a proposed amendment to allow retained students with special needs to be taught by the same teacher in certain circumstances. The Guinn Center testified on the bill based on our reports: Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? and Literacy Challenges in Nevada’s Schools. Amendments were suggested but there was no opposition to the bill. Lastly, the Committee heard SB405 and SB430, which would increase funding for the Zoom School Program for English Language Learners from $50 million to $100 million over the biennium. This would expand the program to more elementary schools, and would add middle and high schools in Clark and Washoe Counties. The Superintendent of Public Instruction explained the differences between the bills and recommended that SB405 serve as the base for amendments. The Clark County School District provided information on the success of the program in the current biennium. The Guinn Center testified based on our report: Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? The Guinn Center indicated that a scientific evaluation of the Zoom program has not been done so the effectiveness of the program has not yet been determined. Amendments were suggested but there was no opposition to the bill.
SED held a work session on six bills: SB295, SB432, SB460, SB461, SB474, and SB504. The Committee amended and approved SB295 which (1) requires the Department of Education to maintain a website to provide information and raise awareness about career pathways in STEM; (2) requires students to complete a semester of computer science as a condition for graduation in lieu of the current course in computer literacy; (3) requires that high quality, ongoing training be provided in STEM, in the State’s science standards, and in the Nevada Academic Content Standards; and (4) provides $12 million for two additional days of professional development. The amendment would correct a bill drafting oversight to add a $12 million appropriation to FY 2017 and would reduce the number of professional development days from two to one. Senator Gustavson voted no.
SED amended and approved SB460 regarding an alternate performance framework. The amendment: (1) requires that a school must have a stated mission to serve eligible populations to be eligible for the alternative framework; (2) clarifies the list of at-risk students and adds special education students to the list; (3) gives the Department discretion in school eligibility; (4) adds school restart as an alternative to the automatic closure of an underperforming charter school; (5) changes the provision for the automatic closure of a charter school from any three years during a six year charter contract, to three years in any five year period; (6) clarifies the count of consecutive years for automatic closure begins with School Year 2013–2014 but does not include School Year 2014–2015; and (7) strikes provisions related to sponsor discretion in charter school closure.
The Committee approved SB461, which provides for an individual graduation plan to allow certain pupils enrolled in a public high school to remain enrolled in high school for an additional period to work towards graduation. No amendments were proposed or adopted.
The Committee amended and approved SB474, which creates the Great Teaching and Leading Fund to provide professional development to teachers. The bill provides $4.9 million in new funding in FY 2016. In FY 2017, funding for the Regional Professional Development Programs would be reduced from $7.6 million to $1 million and funding for the Great Teaching and Leading Fund would be increased to $11.4 million. As recommended by the Guinn Center and Nevada Succeeds in our joint testimony, the amendment requires grants to be awarded by the State Board of Education, rather than the Superintendent. The amendment also allows grants to be awarded for more than one year, subject to available funds. Several Senators expressed concern with the proposal to reduce funding for the Regional Professional Development Programs in order to provide funding for this program. Senator Hammond and Senator Gustavson voted in opposition to bill.
On Wednesday, April 8
AJUD in work session amended and approved AB239 to regulate operators of unmanned aerial vehicles in this State. The work session document summarizes the bill and the amendment reflects conceptual agreement with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and others on issues relating to definitions, privacy and other concerns with this new area of regulation.
AGA in work session amended and approved AB445 that allows the Henderson Redevelopment Agency to extend the Downtown Redevelopment Area by 15 years and requires an 18 percent set aside of uncommitted tax revenue to improve and preserve existing public educational facilities. The work session document summarizes the measure and includes the amendment that changes the population restriction to a city in Clark County and clarifies the set aside provision. The Guinn Center previously testified on this measure relating to the set aside as part of a multifaceted solution to address school facility needs.
AGA also heard AB304 relating to gender equality in employment. The bill revises provisions concerning the filing and resolution by the Equal Rights Commission of complaints about discrimination in compensation based on gender. Fact sheets were presented from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on the Gender Wage Gap in 2014 and by Occupation in 2013.
SLOE considered several bills and joint resolutions. SJR18 proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to repeal term limits for State and local offices. Term limits were approved by the voters in 1996 and testimony indicated it might be time to let the voters re-evaluate this 20-year experiment. A new Fact Sheet from the LCB Research Division highlights the effects of term limits on the current members of the Legislature. SB433, as proposed to be amended, is intended to ensure equal opportunity and access to early voting throughout the State by providing geographic diversity, requiring Sunday early voting in all counties, and establishing consistent hours from 7 am to 8 am. Opposition was expressed by county clerks due to certain regional differences. SB436, as proposed to be amended, would authorize the Secretary of State to regulate voter registration drives of 50 people or more during a calendar year to ensure quality control. SB380 provides an exception under limited circumstances from the State’s ethics law for school district officers and employees to provide factual information for a local ballot question that directly affects the district. And finally, the committee heard SJR16 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Extensive and compelling testimony was received in favor and opposition of the proposal (see Exhibits).
AED re-referred two bills to other committees. AB299, regarding formation of military charter schools, was referred to the AWM. AB375, regarding use of school restrooms and sex education, was referred to the AJUD. AED considered four new bills and took action on two of them. The Committee heard, amended and approved AB321, which clarifies that the jurisdiction of school police officers extends to all charter school property, buildings and facilities. The amendment was submitted by the Clark County School District to require charter schools to initiate requests to contract for police services by January 1 and that the contract be for no less than three years. The Committee also gave the bill sponsor direction to continue to work with stakeholders to make further amendments to the bill, including expediting the effective date.
The Committee heard AB349, which requires principals to coordinate with teachers to develop class lesson plans that comply with certain academic standards. An amendment was provided that deletes this language and instead allows a teacher to develop lesson plans and other methods of instruction in a manner that the teacher deems will support the pupils enrolled in the course to meet the standards and objectives of that course.
The Committee heard, amended and approved AB374, regarding counseling for high school students to assess college and career readiness. As amended, the bill requires each school district to ensure that a counselor, administrator or other licensed educational personnel from each public high school in the district meets at least once with each pupil in grade 11 to review the student’s academic plan.
Additionally, the Committee heard AB378, regarding class size reduction. The bill sponsor presented a conceptual amendment that replaces the current bill with the following provisions: (1) utilize funding that would have been available for class size reduction for school districts and charter schools to implement any program designed to maximize the achievement of pupils, including, without limitation, the reduction of class sizes, pay-for-performance and signing bonuses for teachers and other licensed educational personnel; and (2) amend the existing provisions of the law governing class-size reduction to remove the mandatory requirements of pupil-teacher ratios and instead require the school districts and charter schools to set goals for class sizes at the elementary school grade levels. Reports on the lack of effectiveness of class size reduction were submitted by the Center for American Progress and Brookings. NSEA and several school districts opposed the measure.
AED also held a work session on 3 bills previously heard: AB218, AB226, and AB234.
The Committee amended and approved AB218, regarding emergencies in schools. The amendment includes previous changes proposed by the bill sponsor. The committee added two other amendments to: (1) change references to incidents that trigger lockdowns to include threats in the immediate vicinity of the school site, not just the school building; and (2) specify that emergency plans should include procedures for assisting school staff with disabilities during lockdowns and evacuations.
The Committee amended and approved AB226, which requires NSHE to pay the undergraduate fees, expenses for textbooks, and other course materials for a dependent child of a public employee who was killed at work. The amendment makes technical changes and specifies that the provisions also apply to persons who die as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty or in the performance of his or her duties. Lastly, AED amended and approved AB234, regarding multicultural education.
On Thursday, April 9
SCL amended and approved SB439 to provide for the permitting and regulation by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada of transportation network companies (TNC), such as Uber and Lyft. The work session document summarizes the bill and contains the amendment. An additional amendment was approved to impose a fee of 25 cents per trip on TNCs for the State Highway Fund. All committee members made statements regarding their concerns, such as safety, access, the regulatory framework, role of independent contractors, and other issues in this new area of regulation. The measure was moved forward on a 6-1 vote with the recognition that further work is necessary. SCL also approved SB251 to ratify the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to provide reciprocal licensure with other member states. The Guinn Center previously testified in support of this measure based on our report: Nevada’s Mental Health Workforce: Shortages and Opportunities.
ANRAM conducted a work session on AB408 that would have restricted the Federal Government from managing and controlling public lands in this State, and which was determined to be unconstitutional by the LCB Legal Division. The measure was amended and approved by a party-line vote for a substitute bill that makes it permissive for a county sheriff to enter into an agreement with a Federal agency to which the sheriff is primarily responsible for law enforcement on Federally managed lands, if the agreement: (1) requires fair compensation to the sheriff for exercising law enforcement authority based on Federal laws on such lands, and (2) provides that the Federal agency recognizes the sheriff as the primary law enforcement authority on the Federally managed lands. The measure also specifies that the sheriffs and their deputies are the primary law enforcement officers in the unincorporated areas of their respective counties. The amendment also deletes Assemblymen Munford and O’Neill as cosponsors of the bill.
ALOE, in work session, passed seven elections related bills. The explanations and adopted amendments are all contained in one work session document (pages noted). SB302 was amended and adopted (p. 4), with opposing votes, to provide for a presidential preference primary election at the option of the political parties. AB320 was approved (p. 16), on a 6-4 party-line vote, to designate county elected offices as nonpartisan. AB381 was amended and approved (p.17) to retain a $5,000 civil penalty for a valid challenge to an unqualified candidate for election. AB461 was amended and adopted (p. 44), on a party-line vote to, among other things, increase the criminal penalty from a category C to an E felony for knowingly and willingly filing a false statement of candidacy. AB459 was amended and passed (p. 27), on a party-line vote, to remove an ineligible person from the voter rolls if the person is unqualified to serve jury duty due to citizenship. AB460 was approved (p. 43) to express the intent to increase the size of the Legislature and direct LCB to study the logistical issues relating to an increase in size. And, AB462 was amended and approved (p. 59), on a party-line vote, to make various changes to election provisions that include increasing precinct sizes from 1,500 to 3,000 registered voters, requiring voter identification if signatures do not match, providing electronic sample ballots, and making other changes.
Tax and Revenue Committees
ATAX considered AB380 that enacts provisions (based on Colorado and New York laws) relating to the collection of sales taxes by retailers located outside the State to level the playing field between physical stores and outside internet retailers that have component members and/or residents in the State who receive commissions for internet referrals. In work session, the committee amended and approved the bill, making it identical to the amended version of SB382 which was previously adopted by SREV. ATAX also considered AB412, which provides local agencies with options to increase property taxes. The bill authorizes school districts to approve a new levy of up to $0.05 per $100 by a majority vote without voter approval. The bill separately authorizes school districts and/or or counties to approve a new levy of up to $0.05 per $100 of assessed valuation by a majority vote, without voter approval. The measure requires funds for school districts to be used for construction and maintenance of public schools and information technology. However, up to $0.02 per $100 could be used for operations. The bill also includes exemptions from the statutory tax cap and abatements for the new tax levies. The Guinn Center testified in support of the school district provisions in the bill, based on the recommendations in our report: Expanding Financing Options for Nevada’s K-12 Facilities. Concerns were raised regarding provisions related to the Local Government Pooled Investment Fund. The committee later amended and re-referred the measure to AWM without recommendation.
ATAX in work session, amended and approved AB17 to provide for the establishment of a nonprofit entity for certain economic development purposes. AB191 relating to fuel tax indexing for transportation construction projects was amended and approved. AB372 pertaining to economic development and a tax credit program for insurance companies was amended and re-referred to AWM with no recommendation. Lastly, AB399 concerning a pilot program to encourage the growth of existing businesses in this State was acknowledged to need more work on possible amendments, and was re-referred to AWM without recommendation.
SREV heard four bills. SB411 would allow school districts to create a Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee. The Committee can recommend one or more statutory taxes for consideration by the voters at the 2016 General Election to fund the capital projects of the school district. The Washoe County School District presented information on its school construction needs. The Guinn Center testified based on our report: Expanding Financing Options for Nevada’s K-12 Facilities. There was no opposition to the measure. SB342 provides for the regulation and taxation of hard cider, and a presentation was furnished on the industry. SB507 creates the Catalyst Account in the State General Fund, to promote economic development and replace the current Catalyst Fund to streamline its use. The Account would allow for grants and loans in exchange for the issuance of transferable tax credits. Additionally, SB323 was heard to require the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to implement a loan program with revenue bonds for the expansion of businesses owned by minorities and women. The Guinn Center provided background information to the Committee on access to capital in Nevada.
SREV in work session amended and approved SB94 that makes various changes to transferable tax credits for film and other productions. The work session document explains the details of the measure and the minor amendment. The committee also approved with a minor amendment SB334 that provides for ballot questions to amend the Sales and Use Tax of 1955 to exempt the sales of certain durable medical and mobility enhancing equipment, hearing aids and accessories, and ophthalmic or ocular devices or appliances from the tax. The proposal will require three separate ballot questions to amend the State’s sales tax for each category of medical devices.
SED heard, amended, and approved SB195, regarding higher education. As amended, the bill moves the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education from NSHE to the Office of the Governor. The Committee also heard SB509, which makes comprehensive changes related to charter schools to improve the diversity and quality of Nevada’s charter schools. The State Public Charter School Authority presented an amendment to the bill. As proposed to be amended, the measure: (1) implements national best practices for the charter school application and authorization process; (2) revises accountability provisions; (3) implements provisions that will enable Nevada to recruit best-in-class charter school networks; (4) allows charter schools to consolidate; (5) allows implementation of weighted enrollment policies to ensure diversity; (6) requires disaggregation of school performance data for charter schools by; (7) allows charter school teachers to meet the Federal definition of a highly qualified teacher in lieu of having a State teaching license; (8) equalizes funding for educational technology; and (9) makes various other changes. The Committee also re-referred SB132, relating to training for special education paraprofessionals, to SFIN.
SED held a work session on four bills: SB391, SB405, SB432, and SB503. The Committee amended and approved SB391, which creates the Read by 3 program to ensure students are reading proficiently by third grade. The amendment: (1) makes various clarifying changes; (2) requires parental notification within 30 days after a reading deficiency has been identified, and a plan to monitor student progress must be established within 30 days after parental notification; (3) requires that no student be retained twice in grade 3; (4) requires that parental notifications for English Language Learners include additional information regarding their child’s English literacy development and how their child can improve their literacy; (5) allows school districts the option to provide additional compensation to literacy specialists and highly effective teachers, to ensure that schools are appropriately staffed for purposes of this bill; (6) revises reporting requirements; and (7) allows certain students retained in third grade to be taught again by the same teacher if a different qualified teacher is not reasonably available.
The Committee amended and approved SB405, which expands Zoom Schools for English Language Learners. The amendment: (1) clarifies that the Clark County School District shall identify at least three middle, junior high, and/or high schools to operate as Zoom schools, and the Washoe County School District shall identify at least one such school; (2) allows a Zoom middle, junior high, or high school to provide other evidence-based programs and services that are approved by the Department; (3) clarifies that the Department will aggregate reports from the Clark, Washoe, and Zoom grant programs into a single report for submission to the State Board of Education, Interim Finance Committee, and the Legislative Committee on Education; (4) allows the Department to require reporting of certain information about staff employed in schools receiving funding under the bill; (5) requires the State Board to recommend legislation for the 2015 Legislature defining “long-term limited English proficient” and prescribe a procedure for districts and charter schools for counting and reporting such students; and (6) requires culturally appropriate communication and outreach to parents and families to support the academic achievement of English Language Learners.
SED amended and approved SB432, which creates the Victory Schools program for schools in low income areas. The amendment: (1) makes clarifying changes; (2) requires schools to provide any or a combination of five specified services and spend the majority of grant funds on these services (pre-K, full-day kindergarten, summer/inter-session academy, additional instruction outside the school day, and professional development); (3) allows schools to provide any or a combination of five other specified services (recruitment and retention; evidence based social, psychological or health services; parent engagement; programs to improve school climate and culture; and other evidence-based programs); (4) changes the oversight of Victory school performance and pupil achievement from the Department to the State Board of Education; and (5) requires reports to be provided to the Legislative Committee on Education, which may use the reports to advise the State Board regarding action to be taken as provided in this bill, or may advise the Nevada Legislature regarding future public policy or funding related to the Victory schools program. The Guinn Center previously testified on this bill based on our report: Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment?
Lastly, the Committee amended and approved SB503, which implements the Breakfast After the Bell program. The amendment: (1) changes the eligibility threshold to schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of 70 percent for both years of the biennium and requires schools already offering the program to continue without receiving additional grant funding; (2) compels eligible schools to participate, but does not require that breakfast be free for all students, only for those who are eligible; (3) removes prescribed school funding levels and provides the Department with flexibility to determine appropriate levels; and (4) replaces the requirement that the Department adopt regulations with a requirement to adopt procedures for the program.
AED held a work session on six bills. The Committee amended and approved AB205, which creates the Nevada Advisory Commission on Mentoring to support and facilitate the efforts of existing mentorship programs in Nevada that serve socioeconomically disadvantaged children. The Committee amended and AB328, relating to hearings concerning pupils with disabilities. The amendment includes various technical changes.
AED amended and approved AB341. The amendment: (1) deletes provisions of the bill that require literacy screening and reporting, provisions requiring parental notice and independent evaluations at the parent’s expense, and references to dyslexia interventionists; (2) limits the screening to pupils in kindergarten and grades 1-3 who have indicators for dyslexia and need intervention, and had not otherwise been identified for special education; (3) clarifies the required interventions are research-based; (4) requires certain employees to receive training in recognizing dyslexia and associated teaching methods; (5) specifies that pupils can maintain a developmental delay designation through age nine; and (6) specifies that a pupil may no longer be identified as having a developmental delay if the pupil maintains appropriate developmental functioning for a year or more and special education services are no longer necessary.
The Committee amended and approved AB421, which creates the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission for K-12 and higher education. The amendment requires the Commission to reflect the diversity in the demographic makeup of Nevada. Members discussed a possible amendment to exclude higher education based on State constitutional issues raised by NSHE but the amendment was not approved. Assembly members Joiner, Hickey, and Edwards voted against the measure. The Committee approved AB447, which makes changes to the Nevada Educator Performance Framework. Possible amendments were presented, but the Committee decided to approve the bill without amendments.
Lastly, AED amended and approved AB448, which implements the Achievement School District for low performing schools. The amendment: (1) includes provisions regarding parental engagement; (2) requires achievement charter schools to accept all students from the original school; (3) prohibits discrimination, based upon race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or disability of a pupil; (4) specifies that each achievement charter school is a Local Educational Agency for purposes of Federal grants; (5) requires the Executive Director to supply a list of 20 percent of schools eligible for conversion to the State Board of Education; (6) requires the Department to adopt regulations concerning the selection process for charter school operators; (7) provides that the Achievement School District becomes the school’s sponsor once a contract is concluded for the operator and the operator will appoint the governing body of the school; (8) requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to determine reimbursement costs for facility disputes between the operator or the Executive Director and the school district; (9) makes various amendments concerning school district employees at schools who are moved into the Achievement School District; and (10) removes the current prohibition against charter schools using school district facilities during school hours.
On Friday, April 10
SLOE conducted a work session on six election bills, all of which were amended and adopted. The work session document explains the bills and their amendments in sequence, and notes a few provisions added from other related measures. This summary highlights the approved versions. SB203 authorizes local election officials to incorporate electronic practices into early voting, such as vote centers and electronic poll books; provides for pre-registration to vote for persons 17 years of age; deletes election-day registration; and allows the electronic distribution of sample ballots. SB433, approved on a party-line vote, relates to early voting and requires county clerks to establish a plan subject to modifications by the Secretary of State, specifies criteria for the location of polling places to ensure an equal opportunity to vote, and requires Sunday voting and consistent hours from 7 am to 8 pm in all counties. SB331 requires the DMV and Secretary of State to cooperatively establish a notification and data collection process, with the consent of the customer, for voter registration purposes. SB434, approved on party-line vote, revises the process for preparing and challenging the required description of effect of a statewide initiative and referendum petition. SB436, approved on a party-line vote, authorizes the Secretary of State to regulate voter registration drives of 50 people or more during a calendar year to ensure quality control. And SB499 makes various changes to the primary election laws. Additionally, SLOE recalled and amended SB421 to change the statewide primary election date from the third to the last Tuesday in February.
SGA, among other bills in work session, amended and approved SB406 to make comprehensive reforms to the public employee retirement systems for new employees beginning July 1, 2015. The measure includes revisions relating to the forfeiture of benefits for felony convictions, postretirement increases, age and eligibility requirements, the multiplier for compensation, and other changes. The work session document highlights the reforms and contains the amendment.
SREV conducted a work session and unanimously adopted five bills. SB323 was approved to require the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to establish a program for small business enterprises owned by minorities or women to obtain loans to finance business expansions. SB381 was passed to establish a Task Force on Financial Security. SB411 was amended and adopted to authorize creation of Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Need Committees to recommend taxes for voter approval. The amendment revises certain appointments to be made from various organizations of the business community. SB412 was approved to provide a credit against the modified business tax for certain employers that make matching contributions to their employees for the State’s college savings plans. Lastly, SB507 was passed to authorize GOED to approve and issue transferable tax credits, not to exceed certain amounts by fiscal year, to new or expanding businesses in Nevada to promote economic development.
AED held a work session on three bills. The Committee amended and approved AB378, regarding charter schools. The original provisions of the bill regarding class size reduction were deleted. As amended, the bill clarifies existing language to allow charter schools to receive their proportionate share, on a per pupil bases, of any other money provided for other public schools from federal, state, or local sources. This reflects a recommendation made by the Guinn Center in Nevada Charter Schools: Improving Access to Categorical & Facilities Funding.
The Committee amended and approved AB394, regarding school district reorganization. As amended, the bill: (1) establishes a Committee to develop a plan during the interim to break down and reorganize the Clark County School District into not less than 5 local school precincts for implementation not later than the 2017-2018 school year; (2) establishes membership of the committee and creates a technical advisory committee; (3) requires the reorganization plan to address special populations and the composition of future governing boards; (4) specifies that funding under the Nevada Plan will be distributed on a per-pupil basis; (5) includes provisions allowing for issuance of bonds; and (6) requires town hall meetings on the reorganization plan. The amendment retains the original provisions allowing small school districts to be consolidated.
AED amended and approved AB395, regarding the State Public Charter School Authority (SPCSA). The amendment: (1) deletes provisions exempting the SPCSA from the State Budget Act and the classified/unclassified service; (2) requires the Director to serve at the pleasure of the SPCSA; (3) authorizes the Director to hire staff and direct them in their duties; and (4) transfers certain regulatory authority from the Department of Education to the SPCSA.
SED re-referred SB338 to SFIN, which requires the Attorney General to establish the Safe-to-Tell Program to enable the anonymous reporting of dangerous, violent or unlawful activity in or at a public school. The Committee also held a work session on six bills. The Committee amended and approved SB220, which requires instruction on financial literacy in public middle schools and junior high schools. The Committee amended and approved SB302, which creates Education Savings Accounts. The bill authorizes the parent of a student to enter into an agreement with the Department of Education, under which the student will receive a grant equal to 90 percent of the local and basic support per-pupil, to be used to pay the cost of enrollment in a private school. The amendment: (1) changes the managing agency to the State Treasurer; (2) removes references to home schooled children; (3) excludes existing private school students from program participation; (4) allows a student to receive a grant for part-time private school enrollment; (5) allows transportation expenses, up to $750 annually, to be funded with a grant; (6) allows curriculum and supplemental instructional materials to be funded; (7) describes the process for becoming a participating entity in the program; (8) clarifies that public education money may be used in the manner described in the bill; (9) adds parents to the list of participating entities; (10) provides a larger grant for pupils with special needs or who are low income; (11) allows money to be rolled over from year to year and allows savings to be used for higher education costs; (12) allows sectarian institutions to be eligible; and (13) makes other related changes. The bill was approved on a party-line vote.
SED amended and approved SB330, regarding interscholastic sports. The amendment: (1) strikes language granting a free first transfer to another school for the purposes of interscholastic sports; (2) adds a provision requiring the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association rules and regulations governing eligibility and transfers to apply equally to member public, private, and parochial schools; (3) adds charter schools to the bill; and (4) removes provisions related to school nurses. The Committee amended and approved SB399, which creates the Nevada Boost Grant Program to fund a portion of the first two semesters of public community college for eligible students. The amendment (1) expands the program to include returning students; (2) revises the residency requirements to be consistent with existing policy; and (3) clarifies that a student who is not awarded a grant in his or her first semester, may be eligible for the grant during subsequent semesters providing that satisfactory academic progress requirements are met.
Lastly, SED amended and approved SB509, regarding charter schools. The amendments include those previously proposed by the State Public Charter School Authority, as well as an additional amendment regarding employment of teachers when a charter school is reconstituted.
Floor Actions (Tenth Week)
As noted previously, floor sessions in both Houses will be primary for the next week until the First House Passage Deadline on April 21st, as they deal with a backlog of measures recommended for passage and/or amendment from their standing committees.
As of the end of the tenth week, 21 bills had passed both Houses and were signed by the Governor. Chapter numbers are assigned based on the order in which the measures are signed by the Governor. Major enacted bills include the following:
AB125, Chapter 2, relating to constructional defects, effective Feb. 24, 2015.
SB207, Chapter 4, bond rollover for school construction, effective Mar. 4, 2015.
SB119, Chapter 5, bond rollover and repeal of prevailing wage for school construction, effective Mar. 6, 2015.
SB101, Chapter 11, reemployment of school district employees, effective Mar. 19, 2015.
Eleventh Week’s Committee Schedule (Monday, April 13—Friday, April 17, 2015)
Please note that committee meetings are added, particularly toward the end of the week, and agendas frequently are changed. Check the Calendar of Meetings or NELIS regularly for such additions and changes as the week progresses. Except for the “money committees,” which will continue to close budgets and consider exempt or waived bills that have possible fiscal impacts, the standing committees will be considering measures adopted by the other House through the Second House Committee Passage Deadline on May 15.
The list of current exempt fiscal bills totals 54 in the Assembly, and 74 in the Senate along with one joint resolution. The number of measures that failed to meet the April 10, 2015, deadline for first committee passage, and technically will receive no further consideration, totals 123 bills and 4 joint resolutions in the Assembly, and 119 bills and 11 joint resolutions in the Senate. Some highlighted meetings and selected bills currently scheduled for the eleventh week are as follows.
On Monday, April 13
SFIN (8 am) and AWM (9 am) are both scheduled to close budgets for the Governor’s Office of Energy, Commission on Judicial Discipline, and Gaming Control Board, along with certain budgets in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to include the State Environmental Commission, Mining Regulation/Reclamation, Water Quality Planning, and Safe Drinking Water Regulation Program.
AGA (9 am) hears SB83 that designates as confidential certain information, such as the identity of the reporting person, relating to the abuse, fraud or waste of public money that is reported on the telephone hotline to the Division of Internal Audits in the Department of Administration.
On Tuesday, April 14
ATAX (upon recess of the morning Assembly Floor Session) considers SB74 relating to the partial abatement of certain taxes for new or expanding businesses in this State for economic development purposes, and SB170 providing for the partial abatement of certain taxes for new or expanding data centers and related businesses.
SFIN (8 am) hears SB236(R1) to revise provisions relating to the Advisory Council on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), SB493 to establish a program for awarding STEM workforce challenge grants, and SB496 to establish the Workforce Development Rapid Response Investment Program.
AWM (9 am) considers five bills: AB135(R1) relating to the retention and disposal of official state records, AB327 to make an appropriation to the Eighth Judicial District Court for a Veterans Court Coordinator, AB436 to eliminate longevity payments for state employees, AB476 to revise provisions relating to unarmed combat, and AB477 concerning the duties of the Taxicab Administrator.
On Wednesday, April 15
SFIN (8 am) closes certain budgets for the Department of Corrections, the DMV, and the Department of Public Safety.
AWM (8 am) is scheduled to close the same budgets and consider AB190 that provides for the establishment of a hybrid defined benefit and defined contribution for new members of the Public Employees’ Retirement System after July 1, 2016.
The State of the Judiciary address is scheduled at 5 pm in the Assembly Chamber.
On Thursday, April 16
SFIN/AWM (8 am) in its Subcommittee on General Government closes certain budgets in the Departments of Administration and Agriculture, and for the State’s Deferred Compensation Program.
On Friday, April 10
No meetings posted yet.
April 21 (Tuesday)—First House Passage
May 1 (Friday)—Economic Forum Report Due
May 15 (Friday)—Committee Passage Second House
May 22 (Friday)—Second House Passage