Guinn Center Legislative Update: May 25, 2015

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Budget Bills to be Introduced

On or by Wednesday, May 27, the five major budget bills to implement the legislatively-approved Executive Budget are scheduled to be introduced, and exempt bills must be passed from committee. The major budget bills are: the Appropriations Act to provide general funds for the operation of state government; the Authorizations Act that provides for agency expenditures from Federal, fees, transfers, and other funding sources; the Distributive School Account bill for K-12 education funding; the Capital Improvement Program bill to finance construction and maintenance projects; and the Unclassified Pay Bill that provides compensation for state employees and sets maximum salaries for unclassified employees. Rule No. 21 of the Joint Standing Rules (ACR1) requires at least 24 hours between the introduction and final vote on the general appropriations bill in its House of origin.

How does the Nevada Revenue Plan Affect Different Types of Businesses?

The Governor released a new tax proposal called the Nevada Revenue Plan last week. The Nevada Revenue Plan was introduced as an amendment to AB 464 (Hybrid Tax), sponsored by Assemblymen Paul Anderson and Derek Armstrong in March. What is the impact on different types of businesses and how does the Nevada Revenue Plan compare to past proposals? The Guinn Center has released an infographic showing the impact of each tax proposal on different types of businesses. For those who want more information, please see our detailed spreadsheets.

Is Nevada getting closer to adequate K-12 school funding?

Nevada’s existing K-12 financing system has been criticized for not providing adequate funds and for not providing funding that targets specific student needs. There are also large disparities in funding per pupil between school districts. In June 2014, the Legislature’s Task Force on K-12 Public Education Funding proposed transforming Nevada’s existing finance system from one based on historical expenditures to a weighted funding formula that takes into account the costs of adequately educating students (SB 500, Chapter 500, Statutes of Nevada, 2013). One recent study has estimated how much funding would be necessary to adequately fund K-12 schools in Nevada. We have updated our K-12 Education funding infographic to show how much revenue each school district would receive per pupil under the proposed formula. While the new K-12 funding approved to date by the money committees increases per pupil funding levels, the proposed level of per pupil finding is still significantly lower than recommended levels.

Guinn Center releases policy brief on the Health Impact of Full Day Kindergarten

In collaboration with other state-wide organizations, the Guinn Center contributed to a recent study examining the potential impact of full-day kindergarten on health outcomes: Full-Day Kindergarten in Nevada: A Health Impact Assessment (HIA). The purpose of the HIA study is to inform the Nevada Legislature as it considers the expansion of full-day kindergarten. The Guinn Center has released a short policy brief that links the research and recommendations of the HIA study to legislation pending before the 2015 Nevada Legislature.


By the end of the sixteenth week, 487 Assembly bills and 511 Senate bills had been introduced. Of the total 998 bills introduced in the Legislature at this time, 422 were committee introductions that essentially are controlled by the majority party in each House, and 576 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 576 legislator bills, 125 (21.7 percent) were bipartisan in that they included one or more co-sponsors from the opposite party. Among the 295 Senate bills in that category, 54 (18.3 percent) were bipartisan.  Among the similar 281 Assembly bills, there were 71 (25.3 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 (Sixteenth Week)

On Monday, May 18

AWM/SFIN (8 am), in its Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIP, closed the budgets for Bond Interest & Redemption in the Office of the Treasurer, and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) in the Department of Administration. The closing document included the Governor’s recommendation for: (1) state debt service to remain unchanged at $0.17 per $100 of assessed valuation, (2) certain recommended bond issuances for conservation and natural resources projects totaling $6.5 million, and (3) total funding of $236 million for CIP projects. The document contains a detailed list of the construction, maintenance, planning and statewide projects that are to be funded in the next biennium from various State, Highway, Federal, bond and other funding sources. The subcommittee changed the management of construction for the UNLV Hotel College Building from NSHE to the Public Works Division, and there was a difference between the Houses on funding for renovation of the execution chamber at Ely State Prison (passed Senate and failed on the Assembly side). That difference will be resolved at the full joint committees’ consideration of the subcommittee report on Wednesday. The program will be implemented through introduction of the CIP bill next week, and subsequent approval.

AED heard two of the Governor’s major education initiatives: Zoom Schools and Read by 3. SB405(R2) expands the Zoom School program for English Language Learners and SB391(R2) implements the Read by 3 program, which aims to ensure all students read proficiently by third grade. The Guinn Center provided testimony on Zoom Schools and Read by 3 based on our report Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? The Guinn Center recommended that the Legislature consider consolidating Zoom Schools, Victory Schools, and Read by 3 into one program since the three programs serve overlapping populations, aim to improve literacy and/or English language acquisition, and have overlapping eligible uses of funds.

On Tuesday, May 19

SFIN considered SB227(R1), a bipartisan bill to create the Silver State Opportunity Grant Program, which establishes a shared responsibility model to provide need-based grants to help pay education costs to eligible students who are enrolled in Nevada’s community and state colleges. The bill includes a $5 million annual appropriation that is not included in the Governor’s proposed budget. Documentation included an NSHE letter of support from college presidents, an explanation of the Shared Responsibility Model for State-Supported Financial Aid, and a study report from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). The Guinn Center previously testified in support of this bill based on our report: State of Latinos in the Intermountain West. The committee also heard, amended and approved SB338 that establishes the Safe-to-Tell Program, with a 19-member Advisory Committee, within the Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment in the Department of Education to allow for anonymous reporting of dangerous, violent or unlawful activities on school property or sponsored functions. Information on a similar program in Colorado and other documentation are provided in the Exhibits.

SFIN, in work session, amended and approved SB76(R1) relating to WICHE to update the Western Regional Higher Education Compact among 16 states that includes a student exchange program and financial incentives and assistance to health sector students and practitioners. Explanatory testimony on the bill and amendment was provided by WICHE. The committee also approved SB507 concerning transferable tax credits for new or expanding business for economic development purposes, and which clarifies and makes consistent provisions pertaining to grants or loans from the Catalyst Fund. The tax credits are capped at $500,000 for FY2016, $2 million in FY2017, and at $5 million for each year thereafter. These two bills passed the Senate later in the day.

AWM considered AB221(R1), which revises provisions related to privacy of pupil data. An amendment presented by the sponsor removes a provision that prohibits Nevada Department of Education contractors from using personally identifiable data for other uses or from selling personally identifiable data. The committee also heard and approved two bills relating to the current budget. SB429(R1) makes a supplemental appropriation of $62 million to the State Distributive School Account for the shortfall in the current biennium resulting from an unanticipated increase in K-12 enrollment. SB490(R1) transfers $28.6 million from the Rainy Day Fund to help shore up the current General Fund balance.

AED heard two of the Governor’s education initiatives: Victory Schools and the Great Teaching and Leading Fund. SB432(R2) creates the Victory School program, which aims to improve student achievement in low-income areas.  SB474(R2) creates the Great Teaching and Leading Fund, which is a competitive grant program to provide professional development and improve the teacher pipeline. The Guinn Center testified on Victory Schools and the Great Teaching and Leading Fund based on our reports: Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? and Reforming Professional Development to Improve Literacy Outcomes in Nevada.

AED, in work session, amended and approved SB391(R2), which creates the Read by 3 program. The amendment adds reporting requirements for retained students and requires a formal assessment if a teacher observes that a pupil has a reading deficiency. The Committee also approved SB405(R2), which expands Zoom schools.

ALOE, in work session, approved AB423 to establish the Legislative Committee on Transportation Infrastructure and Funding, consisting of six members appointed by legislative leadership, to review transportation projects and infrastructure, including revenue sources and funding options, and provide recommendations to the Legislature.

On Wednesday, May 20

AWM/SFIN, meeting jointly, reviewed and approved the subcommittee budget closings report for Bond Interest & Redemption in the Office of the Treasurer and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) in the Department of Administration. (See Subcommittee summary above under Monday, May 18.) AWM concurred with SFIN to approve funding for remodeling the execution chamber at Ely State Prison. With certain savings from two other changed and rejected projects, renovation of the Central Plant at the Southern Desert Correctional Center at Indian Springs was approved as an additional CIP project. The joint committee also revisited elimination of the Foreclosure Mediation Program in the Judicial Branch budget closing, and approved continuation of the program through the next biennium with a sunset date of July 1, 2017, based on certain budget adjustments presented by the Fiscal Analyst. A new bill will be processed to express legislative intent and effectuate completion of the program.

AED, in work session, amended and approved SB474(R2), which creates the Great Teaching and Leading Fund. The amendment includes a recommendation by the Guinn Center to have the Advisory Task Force on Educator Professional Development recommend standards for professional development as part of its final report in 2016. The amendment also places additional focus on professional development regarding English Language Learners and cultural competency.

SREV heard SB266 and its amendment to revise provisions of the Live Entertainment Tax. The amendment shifts the tax to an admissions basis, establishes a uniform rate of 8.5 percent, refines certain definitions, and makes other clarifying changes. There was supporting and neutral testimony with no opposition, and discussions will continue, along with the development of revenue estimates.

SFIN amended and approved SB227(R1), which creates the Silver State Opportunity Scholarship Program. The amendment removed the appropriation of $5 million per year and noted that funds have not yet been identified for the program.

On Thursday, May 21

AWM amended and approved AB221(R1) regarding pupil data privacy. The budget proposed by the Governor includes $250,000 for data privacy and no additional resources are needed.

SFIN, in work session, amended and approved SB491, which creates the Harbor Master Fund to recruit charter schools to Nevada. The original proposal was to provide an appropriation of $10 million per year, with a private match of $10 million per year. Because the money committees have approved an appropriation of $5 million per year to be included in the main education budget bill, the amendment removes the appropriation and reduces the match requirement to $5 million per year. The Committee also discussed a potential appropriation for a new International Center for Excellence in Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

SLOE heard SB413 that revises provisions relating to the State legislative process to improve fiscal note procedures during the session for the consideration of bills that may have a fiscal impact. In work session, the committee approved AB198 that requires the Legislative Committee on Public Lands to conduct a study concerning water conservation and alternative sources of water for Nevada communities. SLOE also approved, by a 3-2 vote, SJR8 from the 2013 session that would amend the Nevada Constitution to provide for limited annual legislative sessions. If approved unchanged by the 2015 Legislature, the proposal would appear on the 2016 General Election ballot for voter approval. Lastly, the committee amended and approved SB360 to provide for an interim study to investigate the viability of establishing entities to help finance the use and harnessing of clean energy in this State. The amendment (see pages 3-8 of the work session document) adds this study, along with the study on energy efficiency programs in SCR4, to the jurisdiction of the interim Legislative Committee on Energy.

SFIN/AWM, in a joint meeting, held a policy discussion on a proposed amendment to AB464 called the Nevada Revenue Plan. The proposal includes several elements: (1) an increase in the business license from $200 under current law to $500 for corporations and $300 for other companies; (2) a new Commerce Tax on gross receipts above $3.5 million, with rates for individual industries ranging from 0.051 percent for mining to 0.281 percent for education services; (3) a credit of 50 percent of the new Commerce Tax against the Modified Business Tax; (4) an increase in the Modified Business Tax rate from 1.17 percent to 1.475 percent for all industries except financial business and mining, which would pay 2 percent; (5) a decrease in the quarterly deduction for the Modified Business Tax from $85,000 in payroll to $50,000 in payroll; and (6) a change in depreciation for the Governmental Services Tax. During the meeting, the Governor’s representatives presented the plan and members asked questions. A full hearing in AWM will be held on Monday, May 25, at 2:00 pm.

AED heard SB332(R1), which provides $1 million per year for the Clark County School District to carry out a program of peer assistance and review for teachers. The Committee also approved SB76(R1), which makes changes related to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). In work session, AED amended and approved SB432(R2). This bill creates Victory Schools, which aim to improve academic achievement students in low-income areas. The amendment addresses the timeline for submitting a plan and requires the State Board of Education to prescribe a list of allowable recruitment and retention incentives. The Committee also reconsidered a previous action on SB463(R1) regarding pupil data and made further clarifying amendments, including increasing the age, from 16 to 18, that a pupil can request to review personally identifiable information.

SED considered SB92, which aims to address the quality of teachers at underperforming schools. The Lieutenant Governor presented a comprehensive amendment and a friendly amendment. As amended, the bill: (1) changes the way teachers are laid off from being based on seniority to being based on teacher performance; (2) creates a mutual consent placement procedure for teachers; and (3) establishes a statewide system of turnaround schools. For turnaround schools, the bill provides the ability to reassign principals and teachers and allows use of financial incentives to recruit and retain high quality staff.

On Friday, May 22

AWM considered several bills. AB161(R1), which is a priority of the Southern Nevada Forum, was heard and approved to provide for the partial abatement from certain property or sales taxes for aircraft businesses. The Department of Taxation provided an estimate of the fiscal impact of the abatements based on various assumptions, and a presentation highlighted the economic effects of the program. AB399 was considered to create a pilot program, also known as “economic gardening,” for the next biennium that focuses on the growth of existing businesses in the State through the use of information and technology. An amendment was proposed and the measure includes a $300,000 appropriation that is not in the Governor’s budget. AB443 was heard, amended and approved to appropriate approximately $2 million, which is in the Governor’s recommended budget, to LCB for the cost of dues and registration for national organizations and one-time building maintenance and information technology purchases. The amendment slightly reduced the appropriation amount due to updated information.

AED heard, amended, and approved SB195(R1), which moves the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) office from NSHE to the Governor’s Office. The amendment retains the current classification levels for the WICHE positions instead of making them non-classified. The Committee also heard and approved SB503(R1), which provides funding for start-up grants for the Breakfast After the Bell Program. The Department of Agriculture presented information on the potential benefits of the program. The Guinn Center testified on the bill based on our report: Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? The Guinn Center recommended that the use of funds be expanded to temporarily fund the differential in free and reduced price/paid reimbursement rates for small school districts. This could help small school districts offer the program to all students.

SFIN amended and approved SB509(R1), which is a comprehensive bill addressing charter schools. The amendment deletes a provision stating that all positions in the State Public Charter School Authority would be unclassified.

SREV, in work session, amended and approved SB79 that provides for the regulation and taxation of liquid nicotine. The amendment defines vapor and alternative nicotine products under a category for possible future taxation, which is model language being used among states as these products are being evaluated and does not currently impose a separate tax. Another bill in process [SB225(R2)] sets age restrictions on the sale and use of these products. SJR13 was amended and approved, on a party line vote, to amend the Nevada Constitution to limit the total amount of property taxes that may be levied on real property. The amendment changes the base year for the calculation to 2017-2018 and includes provisions relating to bonded indebtedness.

On Saturday, May 23

AWM conducted hearings and a work session on a number of bills. Among the measures heard were: SB334(R1) that provides three ballot questions for the 2016 General Election to exempt certain medical equipment and devices from the State portion of the sales tax; AB481(R1) relating to deceptive trade practices that creates for the next biennium the Consumer Affairs Unit in the Department of Business and Industry; and AB445(R1), which requires a portion of redevelopment revenues to be set aside for education facilities in return for extending the maximum term of the redevelopment plan from 30 to 45 years. This would help mitigate the loss of revenues school districts would experience from extension of a redevelopment plan. The Guinn Center previously testified on this bill based on our report: Expanding Financing Options for Nevada’s K-12 Facilities.

In work session, AWM approved AB483, which revises provisions regarding performance pay for teachers. The bill requires each school board to annually reserve money for the payment of an increase in base salaries, not to exceed 10 percent, for not less than 5 percent of certain teachers and administrators employed by the school district. The bill eliminates the requirement that performance pay be collectively bargained and requires implementation of the program to take into account low-performing schools. Several members inquired about how this bill will interact with SB511, which was introduced on May 22, 2015. SB511 creates a scholarship program for people studying to become teachers and provides money for incentives to recruit teachers to certain schools that have a high need for teachers through its program of performance pay and enhanced compensation. AB485 was amended and approved to revise the duties and structure of the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology in the Office of the Governor. The duties include coordinating expansion of broadband service and administering grants, and the structural changes involve reducing the membership and transferring to the Office the Advisory Council on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The amendment is to include conforming language from other related STEM bills.

Floor Actions (Sixteenth Week)

On Monday, May 18, the Senate approved nine motions by the Majority Leader to suspend various rules for the remainder of session, such as for Committee meeting notices and the movement of measures to General File for final action, to allow greater flexibility and help speed the processing of bills (see pages 2-4 of the Day 106 Journal). This is a common practice as the Legislature approaches the 120-day limit, although the Assembly has not yet taken such actions.

On Friday, May 23, both Houses extended that day’s deadline for Second House Passage of bills until 6 a.m. on the following day.

Some selected measures passed this week by each House are listed and summarized with their votes below.

Passed by the Assembly:

AB175(R2)—concurred with Senate on regulation by the Public Utilities Commission of transportation network companies and three percent fare fee—approved by voice vote.

AB448(R2)—creates the Achievement School District which converts low-performing schools to charter schools–approved 25-17.

SB68(R3)—expedites licensing for health professionals from other states—approved 42-0.

SB193(R2)—elimination of 8-hour overtime provision—approved 22-20.

SB251—ratifies the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact–approved 40-0.

SB314(R1)—governance reforms to the Clark County Health District—approved 22-20.

SB405(R2)—expands Zoom Schools, which provide services targeted towards English Language Learners–approved 35-7.

SB406(R2)—reforms to public employees’ retirement systems for new employees—approved 41-1.

SB411(R2)—allows school districts to create a committee to recommend taxes for voter approval to fund school capital facilities–approved 28-14.

SB463(R3)—relates to collection of personally identifiable pupil information—approved 32-10.

SB490(R1)—transfer from Rainy Day Fund to help cover current budget shortfall—approved 42-0.

Passed by the Senate:

AB89(R2)—expedites licensing for health professionals from other states–approved 20-0.

AB206(R2)—expands provisions regarding notices to parents regarding health screening and bullying–approved 20-0.

AB239(R3)—regulation of operators of unmanned aerial vehicles—approved 21-0.

AB447(R1)—revises teacher evaluation system—approved 20-0.

SB353(R1)—prohibits sexual orientation conversion therapy to minors—approved 14-5.

SB360(R1)—interim studies on energy efficiency programs and financing of clean energy to Legislative Committee on Energy—approved 19-0.

Bills Signed by the Governor

As of the end of the sixteenth week, 142 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. Selected major enacted and enrolled bills include the following (by Chapter number):

AB125, Chapter 2, relating to constructional defects, effective Feb. 24, 2015.

SB207, Chapter 4, bond rollover for school construction, eff. Mar. 4, 2015.

SB119, Chapter 5, bond rollover and repeal of prevailing wage for school construction, eff. Mar. 6, 2015.

SB101, Chapter 11, reemployment of school district employees, eff. Mar. 19, 2015.

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

SB459, Chapter 26, establishes an opioid overdose prevention policy for Nevada, eff. Oct. 1, 2015.

AB505, Chapter 35, suspension of agency benefit collections in May and June, 2015, to help address current budget shortfall, eff. May 6, 2015.

SB205, Chapter 44, model plan for schools to respond to a crisis or emergency, eff. July 1, 2015.

SB158, Chapter 84, public information before approval of local government collective bargaining agreement, eff. July 1, 2015.

SB473, Chapter 90, grants management procedures, eff. July 1, 2015.

SB504, Chapter 115, bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools, eff. July 1, 2015.

SB212, Chapter 118, pupil discipline and prohibited acts at public schools, eff. July 1, 2015.

AB57, Chapter 124, taxation of direct mail purchases to conform with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, eff. July 1, 2015.

Resolutions Enacted

Selected resolutions enrolled and delivered to the Secretary of State are as follows:

SJR1, File No. 30, urges Congress to transfer certain public lands to the State.

SJR2, File No. 31, urges Congress to share federal receipts from commercial activity on certain public lands.

SJR4, File No. 32, urges Congress to enact Marketplace Fairness Act.

Seventeenth Week’s Committee Schedule (Monday, May 25—Friday, May 29, 2015)

Notices of committee meetings will be short and subject to revisions during this last full week of session. Check the Calendar of Meetings or NELIS regularly and often for additions and changes. The money, taxation and certain other committees will continue to hear and process remaining exempt bills. The list of exempt fiscal bills increased slightly to a total of 99 in the Assembly, and 118 measures in the Senate along with one joint resolution. Some have passed and others are continuing in the legislative process.

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

On Monday, May 25

AWM (8 am) hears AB147 relating to transferable tax credits to attract film and other productions to Nevada, which restores the authorized amount from $10 million to $20 million during any fiscal year, and AB249(R1) concerning local government collective bargaining.

SFIN (10 am) considers SB133(R1) that authorizes the reimbursement of teachers for certain out-of-pocket expenses. The committee conducts a work session on several bills that includes SB302(R1) to establish a program for children receiving instruction from a certain entity other than a public school to receive a grant of a certain percentage amount of the per pupil apportioned to the resident school district. SB502(R1) makes an appropriation to DMV for its information technology modernization and authorizes collection of a technology fee. SB508 provides for the long-term modernization of the Nevada Plan for funding K-12 education.

AWM (2 pm) is scheduled to review AB464 relating to state financial administration which is the Assembly hybrid tax reform proposal with the Nevada Revenue Plan amendment.

AED (2 pm) hears SB338(R1) relating to safety in or at a public school and conducts a work session on SB332(R1) to make an appropriation to the Clark County School District for a program of peer assistance and review of teachers.

SLOE (3:30 pm) has a work session on SB269 to establish an interim study committee to research issues regarding behavioral health and cognitive care of older persons, SB413 relating to fiscal note procedures in the legislative process, and AB242(R1) that directs the Legislative Commission to appoint a subcommittee to study postacute care in Nevada.

ATAX (5 pm) is scheduled to hear SB412 to provide a credit against taxes imposed on certain employers that make a contribution to certain college savings plans.

ACL (upon adjournment of ATAX) has a work session that includes SB440(R1) concerning insurance requirements for transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, and SB374(R2) relating to energy.

On Tuesday, May 26

ATAX (upon adjournment of floor session) considers SB103(R1) to exempt certain persons from the modified business tax on financial institutions; SB483(R1) which makes permanent the “sunset” taxes, increases the cigarette tax, and includes other tax law changes to help fund the Governor’s proposed budget; and SB507 concerning transferable tax credits for new or expanding businesses in the State and the Catalyst Fund for economic development.

SED (3:30 pm) hears AB234(R2) to enact provisions related to multicultural education.

Remaining Deadlines

May 27 (Wednesday)—Budget Bills Introduced, Exempt Bills from Committee

June 1 (Monday)—End Date for Regular Session