Guinn Center Legislative Update: March 2, 2015

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Special Sessions Due to the Limitation on Length of Session

The Nevada Constitution (Article 4, Section 2) limits the length of a regular biennial session of the Legislature to 120 calendar days. That limit was approved by the voters with an amendment adopted in 1998. Prior to that adoption, regular sessions in Nevada were unlimited in length and the longest session occurred in 1997 which ran for 169 days. Other original provisions of the Constitution that remain in effect today limit the payment of Legislators’ salaries to no more than 60 calendar days for any regular session and 20 days for any special session (Article 4, Section 33). Other compensation, such as per diem payments, continues throughout each session.

Special sessions may occur in one of two ways: (1) the Governor can convene a special session, or (2) two-thirds of both houses of the Nevada Legislature can petition a special session. (The latter became an option in 2012 when voters approved the constitutional amendment). During 1864-1998, Nevada had 16 special sessions for “extraordinary occasions.” Since 1999, 12 special sessions have been called and half of them (including two in 2003) were convened after the Legislature was unable to complete its business within 120 days. The other six special sessions occurred to address the following issues: medical malpractice emergency (2002), impeachment proceedings of a constitutional officer (2004), budgetary shortfalls resulting from the Great Recession (two special sessions in 2008, and one in 2010), and consideration of an economic development project (2014).

Since establishment of the 120 day limit, only three of the past eight regular sessions were completed on time (1999, 2009 and 2011). Four of the special sessions to finish the Legislature’s business lasted one day or less for passage of ‘essential legislation’ (2001, 2005, 2007, and 2013). The two special sessions in 2003 addressed a tax proposal to fund education. The first special session in 2003 lasted 10 days and the second ran for 27 days, which remains the longest special session in Nevada’s history. A Fact Sheet published by the Research Division of LCB outlines the dates, length and purposes of the State’s total 28 special sessions of the Nevada Legislature.

Abbreviations Guide

Committee Hearings and Actions (Fourth Week)

On Monday, February 23:

AHHS received an overview of the organization and activities of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health.

AED heard AB120, which clarifies that pupils at public schools are entitled to: (1) pray to the same extent and under the same circumstances as pupils are allowed to meditate, reflect or speak on nonreligious matters; (2) express a religious viewpoint to the same extent and under the same circumstances as pupils are allowed to express a viewpoint on a nonreligious matter; (3) possess or distribute religious literature to the same extent and under the same circumstances as pupils are allowed to possess or distribute literature on a nonreligious matter; and (4) organize or participate in any prayer group, religious club or religious gathering before, during or after regular school hours to the same extent and under the same circumstances as pupils are allowed to organize and participate in any extracurricular group or activity before, during and after regular school hours. The bill also creates a grievance process for pupils claiming that their rights of free exercise of religion have been violated. There was substantial testimony both for and against the bill.

SLOE reviewed 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 (NRS 293.2546).

On Tuesday, February 24:

AGA received a local government presentation from Lyon Countythat included current challenges, a discussion of the impacts of the recession, and description of future projects.

AWM/SFIN in its Joint Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIPS heard the following higher education budgets: Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, Nevada System of Higher Education, Great Basin College, Western Nevada College, Desert Research Institute, UNLV Law School, and UNLV School of Medicine. NSHE provided a comparison of its budget request to the executive budget. Issues raised during testimony included: (1) the absence of bridge funding for Western Nevada College and Great Basin College; (2) the insufficiency of funding provided in the executive budget for start-up costs for UNLV School of Medicine; and (3) the absence of funding for need-based scholarships. The Las Vegas Review Journal published an article on February 25, 2015, discussing the UNLV School of Medicine’s budget request and the need to show adequate investment to receive accreditation.

ATAX heard a presentation from the Tax Foundation on its study entitled, “Simplifying Nevada’s Taxes: A Framework for the Future,” that was commissioned by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce.

ANRAM received an overview of the responsibilities of the Division of Water Resources, by the State Engineer, that included a basic review of Nevada Water Law. This review covered the appropriation and water rights application processes, along with a discussion of the approval criteria for inter-basin transfers.

SED heard SB178, which expands requirements for physical education. The bill: (1) requires all public and private schools to provide instruction in physical education for certain grades; (2) requires certain pupils enrolled in a public or private school to take physical education in certain grade levels; (3) prescribes the minimum number of credits required of pupils enrolled in high school in physical education; (4) requires the Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools to establish standards of content and performance for physical education; and (4) requires certain school districts to collect data concerning the height and weight of pupils. Stakeholders expressed concern about the availability of time in the current school day to meet these requirements. As discussed in an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal, “[Senator] Hardy said after the hearing that he will move forward with the bill by seeking optional ways for children to get more exercise, whether it be before or after school, with an expanded lunch time or through extracurricular activities.”

AED also held a work session on two bills. It approved SB101, which would extend certain statutory deadlines related to the reemployment status of certain employees of school districts during odd-numbered years. The Committee also amended and approved SB75, which requires the State Board of Education to prescribe the minimum number of school days that must be provided to pupils before certain standardized examinations may be administered. The Board is further required to prescribe a period of time during which the examinations must be administered by the board of trustees of each school district and the governing body of each charter school. The bill also removes the requirement that all such examinations be administered at the same time during the spring semester.

SREV had a discussion and presentations on the property tax. The Department of Taxation presented a detailed report and a statewide table on 2014-2015 total property tax abatements. Senator James Settelmeyer (R-W.NV) and Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D-LV) reviewed the concepts being developed in their respective BDRs to reform the property tax system. The Tax Foundation reported on its conclusions about Nevada’s property tax in Chapter 5 of its study. The City of Las Vegas and Clark County made presentations that focused on the tax as being no longer a stable source of revenue for local governments and the effects of property tax abatements.

On Wednesday, February 25:

AGA received a local government presentation from the City of North Las Vegas that highlighted its current challenges and projects, including Apex.

AED heard AB112, which expands the goals to establish a safe and respectful learning environment in public schools to include ensuring that the quality of instruction is not negatively impacted by poor attitudes or interactions among administrators, principals, teachers or other personnel of a school district. The bill also requires that policies prescribed by the NDE include methods to promote collegiality among teachers and between teachers and administrators, principals and other personnel of a school district. The Committee 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 on a college entrance examination offered, as determined by the Board of Regents. Lastly, the Committee heard AB166, which would establish the State Seal of Biliteracy Program to recognize pupils who have attained a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English by affixing the State Seal of Biliteracy to the diploma of each pupil who meets certain requirements.

On Thursday, February 26:

AGA heard SB119, which would extend rollover bonds for school construction and would repeal prevailing wage requirements for K-12 and higher education facilities. There was substantial testimony in favor of extending the rollover bonds but controversy continued over the prevailing wage provisions. The Guinn Center submitted written testimony based on its recent policy brief: Expanding Financing Options for Nevada’s K-12 Facilities.

ANRAM focused on water issues and received presentations from the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) and the Western Regional Water Commission. The SNWA presentation included information on allocations, drought conditions since 1999, projected levels for Lake Mead, the new intake connection, conservation, and water resources and planning. The TMWA highlighted its history and purpose, consolidated resources, flow and supply charts, conservation, and projections for the third year of drought.

SREV heard three tax clarification bills. SB103 is a bipartisan measure to exempt insurance agents from the definition of a financial institution for the modified business tax. It corrects an unintended interpretation and carries a fiscal note of lost collections in the amount of $700,000 which the Department of Taxation indicated was a high end estimate. SB78 is a proposal from the Department of Taxation to clarify that the appropriate forum for the appeal of taxes on mining property is to the State Board of Equalization. SB80, also from the Department Of Taxation, would repeal a presumption that personal property delivered and first used in interstate commerce was not purchased for use in Nevada. Some opposition was expressed and a cooperative amendment is under development.

On Friday, February 27:

AWM/SFIN in Joint Subcommittee on K-12/High Education/CIPS, continued its review of the Distributive School Account and other related budgets. The Superintendent of Public Instruction presented a summary of each proposal. The Guinn Center provided testimony on the K-12 funding formula, intervention programs to improve literacy, full-day kindergarten, and professional development, 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.

SCL, in work session, recommended passage of SB68, as amended, to expedite licensing for medical professionals coming from other states. This measure was proposed by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the adopted amendments include revised terminology and the addition of 10 other professional licensing boards, which are in critical shortage throughout the State. Among the added professions are nurses, psychologists, and alcohol, drug and gambling counselors. At the initial hearing on SB68, the Guinn Center provided written testimony, which highlighted recommendations from its report: Nevada’s Mental Health Workforce: Shortages and Opportunities.

 Floor Actions (Fourth Week)

At the end of fourth week, 202 Assembly bills and 196 Senate bills had been introduced.

Of the total 398 bills introduced in the Legislature by the end of the fourth week, 218 were committee introductions that essentially are controlled by the majority party in each House, and 180 were introduced by individual legislators.  The bills introduced by legislators may be co-sponsored by other lawmakers, and an indicator of bipartisanship is the number of bills that attract co-sponsors from the other party.  Among the current, total 180 legislator bills, 41 (22.8 percent) were bipartisan in that they included one or more co-sponsors from the opposite party.  Among the 91 Senate bills in that category, 24 (26.4 percent) were bipartisan.  Among the similar 89 Assembly bills, there were 17 (19.1 percent) that featured bipartisan support.

 Fifth Week’s Committee Schedule (Monday, Mar. 2—Friday, Mar. 6, 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 fifth week are as follows.

On Monday, Mar. 2:

SFIN (8 am) reviews the budgets for the office of the Attorney General.

AGA (9 am) hears AB54 to revise provisions relating to local governments existing in a severe financial emergency.

AWM (9 am)/SFIN (9:30 am) meet separately as the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee to approve the addition of certain funds.

SJUD (1 pm) hears SB167 that would revise provisions relating to employment concerning the filing of complaints alleging a practice of unlawful discrimination in compensation.

AHHS (1:30 pm) receives a presentation from the State’s Chief Medical Officer and the Southern Nevada Health District on the use of electronic cigarettes by persons under age 18 and the health impacts.

AED (3:15 pm) conducts a work session on AB30 relating to pupil achievement plans and AB55 concerning the licensure of certain teachers and educational personnel. It also hears AB178 to revise provisions governing pupils who are deemed to have a habitual disciplinary problem.

SLOE (3:30 pm) has a hearing on SJR1 urging Congress to enact legislation transferring title to certain public lands to the State in accordance with the report prepared by the Nevada Land Management Task Force; and SJR3 to amend the Nevada Constitution to provide for the joint election of the Lieutenant Governor with the Governor.

On Tuesday, Mar. 3:

AGA (8 am) conducts a hearing on AB190 to revise provisions governing public employees’ retirement that would establish a hybrid program for new employees which must include a defined benefit and a defined contribution plan.

AWM/SFIN (8 am) in its Joint Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIPS receives an overview of the NDE and reviews other education budgets that include educator effectiveness, parental involvement and family engagement, and career and technical education.

ANRAM (1:30 pm) has overview presentations from the Nevada Division of Minerals, Nevada Mining Association, and Nevada Mineral Exploration Coalition.

SREV (3:30 pm) has a discussion and presentations on the Modified Business Tax from the Tax Foundation and the Fiscal Analysis Division of LCB. Chairman Michael Roberson (R-LV) previously announced that this meeting would begin the committee’s discussions on business taxes which would consume much of the month of March.

On Wednesday, Mar. 4:

AWM (8 am) reviews the budgets of the Office of the Attorney General.

AED (3:15 pm) hears AB121 to prohibit the discipline of pupils for simulating, wearing clothing or expressing opinions concerning firearms.

SLOE (3:30 pm) has a hearing on SJR6 to amend the Nevada Constitution to revise the method for determining the minimum wage, and SJR9 expressing support for continued enforcement action against voting discrimination.

On Thursday, Mar. 5:

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

ATAX (1:30 pm) has a hearing on AB116 to revise provisions governing the Regional Business Development Advisory Council for Cark County which addresses the economic development of local businesses owned and operated by certain disadvantaged persons. The committee also conducts a work session on AB57 relating to the taxation of direct mail purchases, and AB70 concerning the administration and enforcement of excise taxes on medical marijuana.

On Friday, Mar. 6:

AWM/SFIN in its Joint Subcommittee on Human Services reviews the budgets of the Aging and Disability Services Division of DHHS.

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 Chamber.


U.S. Representative Cresent Hardy is scheduled to address the Legislature on Wednesday, April 8, at 5:00 pm in the Assembly Chamber.


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