Guinn Center Legislative Update: April 20, 2015

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New Guinn Center Policy Brief Compares 2015 Tax Proposals

Our new policy brief, Comparison of 2015 Nevada Tax Proposals, provides a comparison of the tax plans being considered by the Legislature. Based on our analysis and interviews with tax policy experts in other states that have implemented gross receipts taxes, the Guinn Center concludes by offering a series of policy questions and recommendations for Legislators.

Guinn Center Event on April 21, 2015

On Tuesday, April 21, the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, in partnership with the UNLV Boyd School of Law, College of Southern Nevada, Accion Nevada, and the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, Urban Chamber of Commerce, and Latin Chamber of Commerce, will host an open town hall meeting to review the current tax reform proposals (SB252, SB378, and AB464). Tax policy experts will review the 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

The event is free and open to the public.


By the end of the eleventh 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 eleventh 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.

Abbreviations Guide

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 were adopted by the respective Houses during the legislative process.

Committee Hearings and Actions (Eleventh Week)

Many regular standing committee meetings in both Houses were canceled or not scheduled this week due to the First House Committee Passage deadline on April 10 and the focus on floor actions in anticipation of the April 21 First House Passage deadline.

On Monday, April 13

SFIN/AWM, meeting separately, closed certain budgets of the Commission on Judicial Discipline, Gaming Control Board, Governor’s Office of Energy, and various divisions within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that included Environmental Protection.

On Tuesday, April 14

SFIN considered a workforce development measure and two bills relating to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to which there was no opposition. SB236(R1) revises provisions relating to the Advisory Council on STEM, and explanatory testimony was presented. The bill requires additional meetings and the establishment of a statewide event to recognize up to 15 schools, along with events in northern and southern Nevada to recognize pupils, for exemplary achievement and performance in STEM fields. An appropriation of $5,000 in each year of the biennium is included to help finance the statewide event. SB493 establishes a program for awarding STEM workforce challenge grants, and introductory testimony was provided. The bill establishes a fund, oversight committee, and criteria to award matching grants to support postsecondary education and skills training programs for workers in STEM industries. Community and state colleges, nonprofit organizations, and private industry STEM businesses may apply for the grants with a 100 percent match, and the grants are limited to $175,000 per year, and not more than $350,000 total for a two-year period. The measure includes an appropriation of $3.5 million from the State General Fund to the STEM Workforce Challenge Grant Fund. Staff of the Governor’s Office pointed out that the proposed Executive Budget includes $3 million for this purpose in the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology which would provide oversight over the grants. SB496 would appropriate $6 million and establish a fund and committee to oversee the Workforce Development Rapid Response Investment Program. The program is to award grants to community colleges for the development of education programs to ensure an educated and skilled workforce for growth industries targeted by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) in this State. The Guinn Center for Policy Priorities submitted testimony in support of the Workforce Development Rapid Response Investment Program. Both SB493 and SB 496 were recommendations from the Committee to Conduct an Interim Study Concerning Community Colleges.

Tax Committee

ATAX heard SB170(R1), which authorizes GOED to grant a partial abatement of personal property taxes (up to 75 percent) and local sales and use taxes to a data center and collocated businesses that locate or expand in this State. The measure specifies employment and capital investment criteria for the abatements—at least 25 employees and $50 million of investment for a 10-year period, and 50 employees and $100 million of investment for 20 years—along with a requirement that the jobs pay at least 100 percent of the State’s average hourly wage. There was extensive committee questioning and discussion concerning the impacts of these businesses and the abatements, and no opposition was expressed.

Education Committee

AED heard AB 27(R1), which expands existing provisions that allow licensure of teachers who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents if there is a shortage. This bill removes the requirement that there be a shortage of teachers in a particular subject area and instead allows such a person to be licensed to teach if: (1) the school district/ charter school can demonstrate that any shortage of teachers exists or that they have not been able to employ a person possessing the skills, experience or abilities of the person to be licensed; (2) the person is otherwise qualified to teach; and (3) the school district/ charter school agrees to employ the person. If such a person is terminated, the Superintendent of Public Instruction must be notified. Several organizations testified in support of the bill, while others testified in opposition.

AED also heard AB30(R1) regarding student improvement plans. The bill requires the state-level improvement plan to include: (1) information on the manner remediation will be provided to pupils who require remediation based on the results of end-of-course examinations and the college and career readiness assessment; (2) strategies to improve the literacy skills of pupils; and (3) strategies to improve the language skills of English Language Learners. The State Board of Education is required to review the school-level improvement plans. There was no opposition to the proposal.

On Wednesday, April 15

SFIN closed 41 various budgets within the Department of Corrections, DMV, and Department of Public Safety that were staff closings, not previously reviewed by the Committee, and approved as recommended by the Governor with the authority for technical adjustments by the LCB Fiscal staff.

AWM considered AB190 to change the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) to establish a hybrid defined contribution and defined benefit plan for new employees who begin on or after July 1, 2016. The sponsor, Assemblyman Randy Kirner (R-Reno), made a presentation to explain the bill and issues, and submitted a proposed amendment; an actuarial analysis was provided from the Reason Foundation; and the PEW Charitable Trusts furnished remarks relating to hybrid plans in other states and the implications of this proposal in Nevada. The PERS and many others spoke in opposition.

On Thursday, April 16

SFIN/AWM in its Subcommittee on General Government closed certain budgets for the Departments of Administration and Agriculture, and the State’s Deferred Compensation Program. The closing of the Nutrition Education Programs budget in the Department of Agriculture included $1 million in each year of the biennium to provide public schools with start-up grant funding to implement the Breakfast After the Bell Programs contingent upon passage of SB503, which is a major initiative in the Governor’s Executive Budget (see page 33 of the closing document).

AWM/SFIN in its Subcommittee on Human Services heard a presentation in public testimony from the Nevada Hospital Association concerning the Medicaid budget related to hospitals and access to health care in the State. A summary of requested hospital rate increases was furnished, along with a more detailed presentation on the Medicaid Budget from the Hospital’s Perspective. The Division of Child and Family Services of DHHS presented a budget amendment for the re-opening and state operation of the Summit View Youth Correctional Center, also known as Red Rock Academy. Discussion centered on the proposed use of group supervisors instead of corrections officers. The committee also conducted a work session on the budgets for the Divisions of Child and Family Services and Health Care Financing and Policy of the DHHS to receive and discuss updated caseload information and adjustments that will affect final closings for Medicaid and other programs.

Education Committee

SED heard two bills regarding the Millennium Scholarship. AB111(R1) increases the number of credit hours required for community college students to be eligible for the Millennium Scholarship from 6 to 9 beginning July 1, 2015. The bill also increases the amount of scholarship money a student may receive from the cost of 12 credits per semester to 13 credits per semester beginning July 1, 2015, 14 credits beginning July 1, 2016, and 15 credits per semester beginning July 1, 2017. The total a student may receive over the life of the scholarship remains unchanged at $10,000.  NSHE testified neutral on the bill and expressed concern about the incremental nature of its implementation. Until the measure is fully implemented, NSHE asserted that students would take either 3-unit classes that are not fully covered by the scholarship, or 1 or 2-unit classes that are not relevant to their majors. SED also heard AB150, which extends eligibility for the Millennium Scholarship to students who do not meet the minimum grade point average requirement, but who receive a certain score (to be determined by the Board of Regents) on a college entrance examination.

On Friday, April 17

SFIN considered SB503(R1) , which provides $2 million over the biennium to implement the Breakfast After the Bell program at schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of 70 percent or higher. The Guinn Center testified about the potential of the program to increase participation in the school breakfast program. Since the bill was amended to not require participating schools to offer universal free breakfast, the Guinn Center raised concerns about access to breakfast and offered recommendations to help small school districts and charter schools provide universal free breakfast through the program. SFIN also heard SB504(R1) , which creates the Safe and Respectful Learning in the Department of Education and revises existing provisions related to bullying and cyber-bullying. A related budget item provides $36 million for mental health workers in schools over the next biennium.

In work session, SFIN approved SB427 to make a supplemental appropriation of $169,000 to the Office of the Attorney General for projected extradition costs; and SB469 for a supplemental appropriation of $588,000 to the Supreme Court for a shortfall in revenue from the collection of administrative assessments. Two other supplemental appropriation bills—SB468 for the Nevada Transportation Authority and SB486 for the Division of Forestry—were withdrawn from consideration as no longer needed, but were not indefinitely postponed in case changes may arise later in the session.

AWM, similar to SFIN on April 15, closed 41 various budgets within the Department of Corrections, DMV, and Department of Public Safety that were staff closings, not previously reviewed by the Committee, and approved as recommended by the Governor with the authority for technical adjustments by the LCB Fiscal staff.

Floor Actions (Eleventh Week)

Lengthy floor sessions in both Houses were conducted this week, due to the First House Passage deadline on April 21, to process the many bills recommended from their standing committees. A number of bills remain pending amendments and passage on Monday and Tuesday, which will be reported in the next Update. Some selected measures passed by each House are listed and summarized with their votes below:

Passed by the Assembly

Education Bills:

AB351(R1)–revises requirements for a project financed through bonds to benefit a charter school–approved 40-0.

AB447— revises the Nevada Educator Performance Framework–approved 39-1.

Other Bills:

AB252(R1)—creates Redistricting Advisory Commission—approved 24-17.

AB451—continue UNLV Campus Improvement Authority for stadium study—approved 40-0.

AJR8—Amend NV Constitution to require 2/3 voter approval on initiatives that increase revenues—approved 23-17.

Passed by the Senate

Education Bills:

SB390–revises enrollment preferences for charter schools–approved by a vote of 20-0.

Several of the Governor’s major education initiatives are exempt and were re-referred to SFIN for fiscal impact and conformance with the Executive Budget: SB391(R1) (Read by 3), SB405(R1) (Zoom Schools), SB432(R1) (Victory Schools), SB474(R1) (Great Teaching and Leading Fund), and SB397/ SB508 (K-12 Funding Formula).

Medical Licensing Bills:

SB68(R1)–expedites licensing for health professionals from other states–approved 21-0.

SB251–ratifies the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact–approved 20-0.

Other Bills:

SB94(R1)—revises transferable tax credits for film productions—approved 21-0.

SB242(R1)—requires payday lenders to use best practices—approved 21-0.

SB439(R1)—provides for authority and regulation of Transportation Network Companies—failed 11-10 (required 2/3 vote).

SB440(R1)—establishes requirements for insurance for Transportation Network Companies—approved 11-10.

Signed by the Governor

As of the end of the eleventh week, 24 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, for subsequent publication in the Statutes of Nevada, 2015. Major enacted and enrolled 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.

AB165, Chapter 22, NV Educational Choice Scholarship Program, effective Apr. 13, 2015.

Twelfth Week’s Committee Schedule (Monday, April 20—Friday, April 24, 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 bills that have possible fiscal impacts, the standing committees primarily 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 70 in the Assembly, and 97 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 262, including 128 bills and 4 joint resolutions in the Assembly, and 119 bills and 11 joint resolutions in the Senate.

Some highlighted committee meetings and selected bills currently scheduled for the twelfth week are as follows.

On Monday, April 20

AWM (8 am) closes certain budgets for the Offices of the Governor, Treasurer, and Controller, along with the Department of Administration. It also receives subcommittee reports on budget closings for the Department of Agriculture and the Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training.

SFIN (8 am) closes the same budgets and receives the same subcommittee reports, and in addition receives subcommittee budget closing reports for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Deferred Compensation, and the Office of the Military.

On Tuesday, April 21

AWM/SFIN (8 am) in its Subcommittee on General Government conducts certain budget closings for the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.

SED (3:30 pm) is scheduled to hear AB112(R1) concerning the policy for a safe and respectful learning environment for public school children.

On Wednesday, April 22

AGA (8 am) receives a presentation on the Nevada Division of Water Resources from the State Engineer, and hears AB485 relating to water to revise provisions on the adjudication of vested water rights.

ACL (1:30 pm) hears bills including SB193(R1) to revise provisions governing the payment of the minimum wage and compensation for overtime.

AED (3:15 pm) considers SB25(R1) to revise various provisions relating to public schools, SB205(R1) concerning plans to be used by a school in responding to a crisis or emergency, and SB418(R1) relating to refunds paid by private postsecondary educational institutions.

SLOE (3:30 pm) hears AB63 to clarify the filing of certain campaign finance reports for candidates who are elected despite ending their campaigns, and AB94(R1) to authorize the establishment of electronic systems for registered voters to elect to receive sample ballots.

On Thursday, April 23

AWM/SFIN (8:30 am) in its Subcommittee on Human Services closes certain budgets in the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

AWM/SFIN (8:30 am) in its Subcommittee on General Government closes certain budgets in the Departments of Administration, and Business and Industry.

On Friday, April 24

AWM/SFIN (8 am) in its Subcommittee on Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Transportation closes certain budgets in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Upcoming Events/Deadlines

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