Guinn Center Legislative Update: February 23, 2015

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Legislative Guide Now Available

The Guide to the Nevada Legislature 2015-2016 is now available online. Printed copies may be obtained at the Legislative Building in Carson City and at the Las Vegas Office of LCB in the Grant Sawyer State Office Building. This free, colorful, 33-page booklet, published by LCB’s Research Division around the beginning of every legislative session, includes pictures of all legislators, along with their contact information, interesting information about Nevada and the legislative process, committee and leadership assignments, and the layout of the Legislative Building. Page 25 of this handy reference pamphlet lists the methods available for contacting the Nevada Legislature, both during and in between legislative sessions.

Abbreviations Guide

Committee Hearings and Actions (Third Week)

On Monday, February 16:

The Guinn Center for Policy Priorities hosted a breakfast for legislators and staff on Monday, February 16, to share its Fact Sheet on Nevada K-12 Education Finance.

AGA heard AB3 to increase the size of the PERS Board from seven to nine members and eliminate the qualifications for one member to be an experienced, high level public employee who is an active member of PERS. It establishes new qualifications for that position and the two new members to be experienced in the design or management of retirement plans and not be public employees and active PERS members. The proposal drew substantial opposition from the Executive Director of PERS and others (see Exhibits).

AED heard AB26. This bill allows public schools to administer or allow the administration of surveys to pupils without written consent if: (1) the pupil is allowed to remain anonymous; (2) participation is voluntary; and (3) certain other requirements are met. The Committee also heard AB107, which would require school districts and charter schools to disaggregate the following data for students eligible for free and reduced price lunch by race: achievement, proficiency, retention rates, graduation rates, dropout rates, grade point averages, and outcomes on state-required assessments.

On Tuesday, February 17:

AGA received a presentation from the City of Fernley that emphasized its current and future population growth due to economic development, concerns with the Nevada Consolidated Tax (CTX) issue and the inequities of its base allocation from that revenue source, and the City’s challenges with financing basic services.

STRN had presentations on the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority and the Elko Regional Airport from the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority concerning the economic importance of scheduled air service, Nevada Rural Airports, and the National Business Aviation Association.

ATAX received an overview of the Tax Expenditure Report from the Department of Taxation.

ATRAN heard overview presentations from the Nevada Taxicab Authority, Nevada Transportation Authority, and Nevada Trucking Association.

SED heard SB128, which would increase the number of credit hours a community college student must be enrolled in to receive the Millennium Scholarship from 6 to 12 hours over a two-year period. The bill would also increase the amount of money students can receive in an individual semester but would keep the overall scholarship amount at $10,000. This bill is similar to AB111, which was heard on February 11, 2015, in the Assembly Committee on Education. Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D-LV) proposed an amendment to increase the number of credit hours from 6 to 9 instead of 6 to 12. The Committee also heard SB133, which would create the Teachers’ School Supplies Reimbursement Account. The bill would appropriate $2.5 million annually in FY 2016 and FY 2017 and would allow teachers to be reimbursed a maximum of $100 per year. The Nevada State Education Association submitted testimony in support of the bill and the Charter School Association of Nevada submitted an amendment to include charter schools in the program.

SREV considered SB170, sponsored by Senator Michael Roberson (R-LV), Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D-LV) and others. The bill provides for the partial abatement of property, business and sales taxes for new or expanding data centers and related co-located businesses that meet certain employment and capital investment requirements. Verbal testimony was provided by GOED, Applied Analysis and eBay concerning the significant short and long term economic and fiscal impacts of these businesses coming to and expanding in Nevada. No opposition was expressed, and amendments will be required to conform this measure to existing statutory provisions.

On Wednesday, February 18:

AJUD received a presentation on Nevada’s Juvenile Justice Process from the Supreme Court’s Commission on Statewide Juvenile justice Reform. It contains brief information (p.12) on the challenge of providing a continuum of care that includes early access to mental health services for juveniles in the system.

AWM/SFIN in Joint Subcommittee on General Government received a detailed presentation and reviewed the proposed budget of the Public Employees’ Benefit Program.

AGA heard AB104 which would authorize the Governor to designate any department in the Executive Branch as a charter agency that would have an annual performance agreement and certain operational authorities, exemptions, limitations and reporting requirements. Presentation materials indicate that the concept is derived from a program in Iowa that began in 2003 (see Exhibits).

AED held a hearing on AB165, which is Governor Sandoval’s proposal to create the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program. This initiative would provide tax credits to businesses that contribute to scholarships for students to attend private schools. The Guinn Center testified that this proposal was ranked as a low priority in its recently released report co-authored with Nevada Succeeds: Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? The Guinn Center expressed concerns about capacity in private schools, especially in rural areas. The Guinn Center also recommended that the program be targeted to students eligible for free and reduced lunch as opposed to families with income not more than 300 percent of poverty.  The Committee also heard AB117, which authorizes a school district to lease school buses or vehicles belonging to the school district in certain circumstances.

AED passed two bills that had been previously heard: AB 27 and AB 107. AB27 expands when the Superintendent of Public Instruction can issue teacher licenses to noncitizens. As amended, the bill would allow school districts and charter schools to request that a noncitizen or lawful permanent resident be licensed if a shortage of teachers exists or if the school district/charter school has not been able to employ a person with skills needed. The bill also requires the school district or charter school governing body to notify the Superintendent within five business days if the person is terminated. AB107 would require districts to disaggregate achievement data for students eligible for free and reduced price lunch. The bill was amended to include reporting of data for pupils in the school breakfast program, require reporting of both eligibility and participation data, and require aggregation of data at the state level.

On Thursday, February 19:

AWM/SFIN in Joint Subcommittee on K-12/High Education/CIPS, considered the Distributive School Account and other related budgets. The Superintendent of Public Instruction presented a summary of each proposal. The Guinn Center submitted testimony based on its recommendations in Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? Testimony was also submitted by UNLV, which is researching the health impacts of full-day kindergarten through a Health Impact Assessment. The Guinn Center is a member of the steering committee for this project. The Subcommittee did not complete this hearing and continued the meeting to February 27, 2015.

AGA received a presentation from Storey County that included a brief overview of the Reno Tahoe Industrial Center. Questions and discussion ensued concerning current progress on construction of the Tesla battery manufacturing facility, plans for the location of SWITCH data centers at the site, and future housing effects in the surrounding counties.

ATAX received an overview presentation from GOED and heard AB17 to provide for the establishment by the Executive Director of GOED, subject to its Board’s approval, of a nonprofit Corporation for Public Benefit to promote, aid and encourage economic development in the State through the use and leveraging of Federal funds and programs.

SED considered SB132 which would require school districts and charter schools to provide training to paraprofessionals who work with special education students and would require the State Board of Education to establish minimum training requirements. The bill would appropriate $2 million for this training. The Committee also heard SB126, which would: require the State Board of Education to prescribe quality and evaluation measures for early childhood education and prekindergarten programs; require the State Board to prescribe surveys and assessments to English Language Learners and dual language learners; and require certain pupils to be assessed and classified as limited English proficient or English proficient upon enrollment in kindergarten. The NDE submitted a friendly amendment to limit these provisions to public schools. During work session, the Committee approved and amended SB76, which makes technical changes to the Western Interstate Commission for High Education.

ATAX/SREV in a joint meeting heard testimony on similar bills SB93 and AB161 to authorize aviation businesses to apply to GOED for a partial abatement from personal property and sales taxes for aircraft related parts and property. This issue is a major priority of the Southern Nevada Forum. The only difference between the two bills is the time period for the partial abatement—20 years in SB93 and 10 years in AB161. Along with numerous documents in support (see Exhibits), the joint committee received a study from Dr. Mike Tretheway, Executive Vice President and Chief Economist of InterVISTAS, entitled “Estimated Effects of a Partial Tax Abatement on the Aviation Industry in Nevada.”

SREV took testimony on SB51 to create the Nevada Main Street Program within GOED. The hearing included an overview presentation from the National Main Street Center, an information packet from the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities that provided selected examples from other state’s programs, and testimony from officials in Gardnerville who have implemented a volunteer program. The bill includes a $500,000 appropriation that is not in the Governor’s proposed budget.

 On Friday, February 20:

AGA received a local government presentation from Carson City.

SREV considered SB74, sponsored on behalf of GOED, to revise provisions governing the partial abatement of taxes for new or expanding businesses in Nevada. Testimony from GOED indicated its purpose is to help shift the State’s economic development focus from job creation to the establishment of more high quality, primary jobs, and no opposition was expressed. The committee also heard SB94, sponsored by Senator Aaron Ford (D-LV), to make changes and improvements to the program for the issuance of transferable tax credits for film and other related productions. Industry representatives spoke in favor of the measure, and some opposition was expressed based on philosophical grounds and the experience of selected other states with similar programs.

Floor Actions (Third Week)

 AB125, as amended, was approved by both the Assembly and Senate this week on party line votes (25 to 17 in the Assembly) and (11-8 in the Senate). This bill revises provisions relating to constructional defects. It is now pending the Governor’s signature.

On Feb. 16, the Senate passed SB119, which would extend school rollover bonds for 10 years and eliminate prevailing wage in the construction of public education facilities, on a party line vote (11 to 9). The bill was transmitted to the Assembly.

At the end of third week, 188 Assembly bills and 181 Senate bills had been introduced.

Fourth Week’s Committee Schedule (Monday, Feb. 23—Friday, Feb. 27, 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. Some highlighted meetings currently scheduled for the fourth week are as follows.

On Monday, Feb. 23:

AHHS (1:30 pm) receives an overview of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health.

AED (3:15 pm) hears AB120 to clarify the rights of public school pupils regarding the free exercise of religion, and AB121 to revise provisions governing the discipline of pupils.

SLOE (3:30 pm) reviews SJR2 to urge Congress to require the sharing of federal receipts from commercial activity on certain public lands with the State and its counties, and SJR7 to amend the Nevada Constitution to provide certain rights to voters that currently exist in statute.

On Tuesday, Feb. 24:

AWM/SFIN (8 am) in its Joint Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIP reviews the budgets for the Nevada System of Higher Education.

AGA (8:30 am) receives a local government presentation from Lyon County.

ANRAM (1:30 pm) has an overview from the Division of Water Resources, DCNR, and on Nevada Water Law.

ATAX (1:30 pm) receives a presentation on the study “Simplifying Nevada’s Taxes: A Framework for the Future” from the Tax Foundation and Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce.

SED (3:30 pm) hears SB178 to revise provisions relating to pupil health through physical education.

SREV has scheduled a discussion and presentations on property taxes from the Department of Taxation, the Tax Foundation, and the City of Las Vegas.

 On Wednesday, Feb. 25:

SFIN (8 am) reviews the budgets for the Treasurer’s Office.

AGA (8:30 am) receives a local government presentation from the City of North Las Vegas.

AED (3:15 pm) hears three bills: AB112 to revise provisions governing the policy concerning a safe and respectful learning environment for children enrolled in the State’s public schools; AB150 revises provisions governing the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship Program; and AB166 providing for the establishment of the State Seal of Biliteracy Program.

 On Thursday, Feb. 26:

AGA (8:30 am) receives a local government presentation from Boulder City.

ANRAM (1:30 pm) has presentations from the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Western Regional Water Commission, and Central Nevada Water Authority.

ATAX (1:30 pm) receives an overview presentation of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement from representatives of the AG Office, and hears AB83 revising provisions relating to tobacco.

On Friday, Feb. 27:

AWM/SFIN (8 am) in Joint Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIPS continues its review of the following budgets of the Department of Education: the Distributive School Account; Other State Education Programs, including Full Day Kindergarten; School Remediation Trust Fund; and Professional Development Programs.

SGA (1 pm) hears SB120 to revise provisions governing reductions in the workforce of a school district, and two bills—SB158 and SB168—relating to collective bargaining by local governments.

Upcoming Events

U.S. Representative Dina Titus is scheduled to address the Legislature on Wednesday, March 11, at 5 pm in the Assembly Chamber.

U.S. Representative Joe Heck is scheduled to address the Legislature on Monday, March 30, at 5 pm in the Assembly Chamber.

U.S. Senator Harry Reid is scheduled to address the Legislature on Wednesday, April 1, at 12:00 pm in the Assembly Chamber.

U.S. Senator Dean Heller is scheduled to address the Legislature on Monday, April 6, at 5:00 pm in the Assembly Chambers.

The State of the Judiciary address is scheduled for Wednesday, April 15, at 5 pm in the Assembly Chamber.