As the 78th Nevada Legislature enters its final month of the regular session, budget deadlines take prominence on the 120-Day Calendar. On Friday May 1, the Economic Forum established the final revenue projections for the legislatively approved budget. Monday, May 4, marks the date when the “money” committees of the two Houses “Start Resolving Budget Differences,” which are scheduled to be finished on Thursday, May 21. The deadline for both the introduction of the final budget bills and the passage of exempt bills from the money committees is set for Wednesday, May 27, on the 115th day of the session.
Has K-12 funding recovered from the recession?
The Guinn Center has released a new infographic showing the state of K-12 funding in Nevada. Check out our interactive chart that shows the change in State and local tax revenue for each school district from FY 2007 to FY 2014. On a statewide basis, per pupil revenue in FY 2014 was still 11 percent below the peak which occurred in FY 2008. The infographic also includes charts showing total State, local, and Federal revenue per pupil in FY 2014 and categorical funding disparities between charter schools and school districts.
Guinn Center Tax Policy Town Hall
The Guinn Center for Policy Priorities held a Tax Policy Town Hall on April 21, 2015, co-sponsored by the UNLV Boyd School of Law, College of Southern Nevada, Accion Nevada, Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, Urban Chamber of Commerce and Latin Chamber of Commerce. See our website for a copy of the presentation and handout summarizing the three major tax proposals. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like the Guinn Center to conduct an informational session on the tax proposals for your organization or community group.
By the end of the thirteenth week, 486 Assembly bills and 509 Senate bills had been introduced. Of the total 995 bills introduced in the Legislature at this time, 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, 52 (17.7 percent) were bipartisan. Among the similar 280 Assembly bills, there were 71 (25.4 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 were adopted by the respective Houses during the legislative process.
Committee Hearings and Actions (Thirteenth Week)
On Monday, April 27
SFIN closed certain budgets for the Agency for Nuclear Projects and for the Office of the Attorney General that included its office restructuring proposal.
AWM closed certain budgets for the Office of the Treasurer. The Committee also heard two bills regarding education. AB394(R1) would create a planning process to reorganize the Clark County School District into no less than five local precincts, to be implemented by the 2017-18 school year. The Guinn Center testified that research is inconclusive on whether school district reconfiguration has a positive impact on student achievement, based on our report: Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? The Guinn Center also addressed the potential fiscal benefits of consolidating small rural school districts. There was testimony both in support and opposition to the bill. AB395(R1) revises provisions related to the State Public Charter School Authority. The measure moves all employees of the authority from the classified service to the unclassified service and specifies that the Director of the Authority serves at the pleasure of the Authority instead of having the current, statutory three year term. The bill also transfers authority for adopting certain regulations related to charter schools from the Department of Education to the Authority. In work session, AWM approved SB505 to provide for the temporary suspension of certain agency subsidy collections for the Public Employees’ Benefits Program to help shore up the current General Fund shortfall. The bill was passed on the Assembly floor the next day since it had to be enacted by early May to have the intended effect on the current budget.
ACL considered SB68(R1), which creates expedited licensing timelines for health professionals coming to Nevada from other states. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development presented information on health workforce shortages and the need for expedited licensure. The Guinn Center testified on the bill based on the findings and recommendations in our report: Nevada’s Mental Health Workforce: Shortages and Opportunities. Amendments were proposed by various licensing boards.
SLOE received a presentation from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) on Elections Technology: A National Perspective, and held a brief discussion with local elections officials on technology-related issues, before going on a tour of the local Carson City Clerk/Recorder’s Office and observing its election functions. A handout also summarized an NCSL sponsored, elections-related technology meeting held in Las Vegas last year. ALOE received the same NCSL presentation the next day.
AED heard five measures that included SB13(R1), regarding pupils with disabilities. The bill aligns with Federal law the definition of a pupil with a disability, removes reference to an adjusted diploma, and requires minimum standards for pupils with hearing impairments to comply with Federal law. The Committee considered SB208(R1), which requires new and expanding charter schools to provide notice to parents and legal guardians who live within a certain distance of the charter school. AED heard SB390(R1), which creates new charter school enrollment preferences for pupils currently attending schools with either: (a) enrollment over 25 percent of intended capacity, or (b) a rating of one or two stars under the Nevada School Performance Framework. In addition, the Committee considered SB313(R1), which addresses distance education. The bill authorizes a university school for profoundly gifted pupils (the Davidson School) to provide a program of distance education and receive funds from the State Distributive School Account for students enrolled full-time in the program. The measure also allows private schools to offer programs of distance education so that the Davidson Academy can create a private school that provides distance education to students worldwide. Lastly, the Committee heard SB75(R1), which requires the State Board of Education to prescribe the minimum number of school days that must take place prior to administration of State-required exams, in lieu of current law which requires the exams to be administered in the spring.
On Tuesday, April 28
SFIN/AWM in its Subcommittee on Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Transportation, conducted a hearing on an NDOT budget amendment, totaling approximately $15.7 million, for positions and equipment to implement a statewide storm water program to meet environmental regulations and achieve full compliance with Federal regulations. Committee members expressed concerns about the late introduction of this amendment, and the need for more time to review an audit and receive further information before adoption of the amendment. The Subcommittee also closed certain budgets for the Division of Forestry in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, along with budgets for the Departments of Wildlife and Veterans Services. The Subcommittee rejected recommended funding from sportsmen’s revenue for videos and Spanish language translations and outreach for the Department of Wildlife.
AWM/SFIN in its Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIPS, closed certain budgets for the State Public Works Division in the Department of Administration and conducted a work session to discuss capital improvement projects.
AGA in work session, amended and approved SB485 that establishes a sunset date of December 31, 2025, for the filing of proofs of appropriation for pre-statutory, vested water rights with the State Engineer. The amendment changes the status from “extinguished” to “abandoned” to comply with State water law terminology on a claim for which proof is not filed by the deadline.
SED heard a presentation by Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D-Henderson) regarding AB107(R1), which requires school districts and the State Public Charter School Authority to disaggregate school accountability data for pupils eligible for free and reduced price lunch by race. The Committee also heard AB205(R1), which requires the Legislative Committee on Education to consider guidelines, parameters and financial plans for certain mentorship programs during the 2015-2016 legislative interim. Several entities provided testimony in support of the bill. SED considered AB178(R1), regarding student discipline. The bill removes the requirement that a pupil who is deemed a habitual disciplinary problem be suspended or expelled for at least one semester and instead authorizes the school to suspend such a pupil for a period not to exceed one semester or expel the pupil from school under extraordinary circumstances. The bill also requires that a pupil enroll in another program of instruction if the suspension is for one semester. The ACLU and Nevada State Education Association submitted a proposed amendment to require a behavior plan for students who have been suspended four times in the same school year. Lastly, the Committee heard AB321(R1), which makes statutory changes to ensure that charter schools receive police services. The Clark County School District presented a technical amendment to the bill to clarify when local vs. school police would respond to an incident.
On Wednesday, April 29
AWM closed certain budgets for the Agency for Nuclear Projects and Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The OAG closings included extensive discussion of the office restructuring proposal and job descriptions were requested for the new Special Assistant Attorney General positions for Military Legal Assistance and Neighborhood Protection, which will be decided at a later date. Due to a lack of time, the committee rolled to another day its scheduled closings for the Secretary of State and Legislative Counsel Bureau.
SCL heard AB89(R1), which revises provisions related to professions. The Guinn Center testified about the provisions in the bill related to expediting licensing for health professionals coming from other states based on our report: Nevada’s Mental Health Workforce: Shortages and Opportunities. The Guinn Center suggested that some of the provisions in the bill be incorporated into SB68(R1), which has similar provisions but affects more health professions than AB89.
ACL heard SB251, which ratifies the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. This compact provides a streamlined process that allows physicians to become licensed in multiple states. The Guinn Center testified in support of the compact based on our recommendations in Nevada’s Mental Health Workforce: Shortages and Opportunities.
SLOE considered two elections bills sponsored by the Secretary of State. AB23(R1) makes certain technical and clarifying changes in elections law that include moving municipal elections to the second Tuesday in June to avoid conflicts with school polling places. A word change amendment was submitted by the Secretary of State’s office. AB462(R1) makes word and clean up language changes for the county clerks and registrars that include: (a) updating the language for electronic means, (b) increasing the maximum number of registered voters in a precinct from 1,500 to 3,000 to help save costs, (c) changing the designation of an independent candidate to no political party, and (d) revising procedures for changing signatures. AED heard and approved SB195(R1), which moves the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) from NSHE to the Governor’s Office. The Committee amended and approved SB25(R1), which is a Department of Education cleanup bill. The amendment authorizes hospitals or other facilities licensed by the Division of Public and Behavioral Health for residential treatment to children and which operate a licensed private school to receive unused allocations of special education program units in the same manner allowed for charter schools and the university school for profoundly gifted pupils The Committee also approved the following bills in work session: SB 200(R1) regarding enrollment preferences for charter schools on military bases; SB205(R1) relating to school district emergency plans; and SB418(R1) concerning refunds paid by private postsecondary institutions.
On Thursday, April 30
AJUD heard SB59(R1) relating to the state business portal, SilverFlume, to clean up provisions and streamline the business licensing process. The measure changes the terminology to a state business registration, instead of license, and allows for simplified sharing of information by other governmental agencies.
SFIN/AWM in its Subcommittee on General Government closed certain budgets for Enterprise Information Technology Services (EITS) in the Department of Administration, and for the Public Employees’ Benefits Program. The EITS closing included completion of the consolidation and integration of the Department of Public Safety IT Services into the EITS budgets that provides for the transfer of 48 positions and associated operating costs.
AWM/SFIN in its Subcommittee on Human Services closed certain budgets for the Division of Child and Family Services in DHHS relating to child welfare and juvenile justice programs and facilities.
AGA heard SB473 that requires state agencies to notify the Office of Grant Procurement, Coordination and Management of the Department of Administration to serve as a clearinghouse for the dissemination of information about unexpended grant money and to make a list available on the Department’s website. This bill is one in a package of three measures (with SB 213 and SB 214) to help the State receive its fair allocation and improve its bottom level rankings in per capita share of Federal grant funds. A presentation highlighted this bill and its relationship to the other measures in the package. AGA approved SB473 in work session the following day.
ALOE considered SJR4 which urges Congress to enact the Marketplace Fairness Act and testimony was presented by Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D-Henderson). The committee also heard AB423 that provides for a study on transportation infrastructure and funding. Testimony from the Associated General Contractors and others highlighted the shortfall and need for transportation financing in Nevada.
ATAX considered SB94(R1) to revise provisions governing transferable tax credits for film and other productions. Among its changes, the measure clarifies terminology, eliminates the sunset clause, removes the limitation on the amount of the tax credit to allow it to be determined by the Legislature based on its success and available funding, allows consideration of expenditures for the rental or lease of personal property, and provides for postproduction expenses incurred in Nevada. The committee also heard SB78 to clarify that appeals of appraisals and assessments for the property tax of mines go to the State Board of Equalization.
SED heard AB166(R1), which creates the State Seal of Biliteracy Program for students who have attained a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English. Testimony was submitted in support of the bill. The Committee also heard AB285(R1), which allows pupils to self-administer prescribed medications for diabetes under certain circumstances. In addition, the Committee heard AB374(R1), which requires school districts to ensure that pupils in grade 11 meet individually with a counselor, administrator or other educational personnel to assess the pupil’s college and career readiness, using results from the ACT if they are available. Various entities submitted testimony in support of the bill.
SED also held a work session on four bills. The committee approved AB27(R1), which removes the requirement that a school district demonstrate a shortage of teachers for a particular subject area before the Superintendent of Public Instruction may issue a license to a person who is not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, but who is otherwise entitled to work in the United States. It also approved AB30(R1) which revises provisions related to school and state-level improvement plans. The committee amended and approved AB 112(R1), which expands the Legislature’s goal to provide a safe and respectful learning environment by ensuring the quality of instruction is not negatively impacted by poor attitudes or interactions among school district personnel. The amendment makes terminology referring to school personnel consistent within the bill and with current statutes. Lastly, the Committee amended and approved AB150(R1), which allows a student to qualify for the Millennium Scholarship based on a test score on a college entrance exam in lieu of meeting the GPA requirements. The amendment clarifies that the college entrance exam must be taken while in high school.
SFIN, heard several bills to implement some of the Governor’s major education initiatives. Three of these initiatives focus on improving literacy and English Language Acquisition. SB405(R1) doubles funding for Zoom Schools from $50 million to $100 million and focuses on improving outcomes for English Language Learners; SB432(R1) provides $50 million to create a new program called Victory schools to focus on improving outcomes for low-income students; and SB391(R1) provides $27 million for a new initiative to ensure students read proficiently by grade 3. The Guinn Center testified that programs to improve literacy and English language acquisition should be a high priority for the Legislature. The Guinn Center recommended that these three programs be combined into a single program because they have overlapping populations, goals, and eligible uses. Additional information is available in our full report: Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? There was no opposition to these three bills.
SFIN also heard SB474(R1), which creates the Great Teaching and Leading Fund to invest in professional development and teacher pipeline development. The Governor’s budget includes $16.3 for this initiative. In the second year of the biennium, a portion of the funding for this initiative ($6.6 million) would come from existing funds allocated to the Regional Professional Development Programs (RPDPs). The Guinn Center previously testified in support of this bill, based on our reports: Reforming Professional Development to Improve Literacy Outcomes in Nevada and Examining Nevada’s Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment? The Storey County School District submitted an amendment to ensure a minimum funding level for small school districts. There was testimony both in support and opposition to the bill. Opponents expressed concern about the proposed reduction in funds to the RPDPs. In addition, SFIN heard SB491 that provides $20 million over the biennium to recruit high quality charter schools to Nevada.
In work session, SFIN approved 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. SFIN also amended and approved SB490 to transfer the current balance, approximately $28 million, in the Account to Stabilize the Operation of the State Government (Rainy Day Fund) to the General Fund to help deal with the current fiscal year shortfall. The amendment deletes Section 1 of the bill that would have delayed transfers to the Rainy Day Fund until July, 1, 2016, since that provision may be added to the Appropriations Bill if necessary.
On Friday, May 1
AWM/SFIN in its Subcommittee on General Government, closed certain budgets in the Department of Business and Industry that included functions of the Insurance Division, Industrial Relations, Athletic Commission, Taxicab Authority, Transportation Authority, Labor Commissioner, and Mortgage Lending. The closing for the Taxicab Authority included discussion and approval of enhanced enforcement and reporting for long-hauling violations.
SFIN/AWM in its Subcommittee on Human Services closed certain budgets for the Aging and Disability Services Division of DHHS that included testimony from Nevada Senior Services. Among the closings were approval of additional funding and positions to expand the Autism Treatment Assistance Program and to support caseload increases for the Community Based Care programs.
The Economic Forum met and issued its report on May 1, 2015 to determine the General Fund revenue estimates that must be used by the Legislature and Governor for the 2015-2017 biennium. Projections for each major revenue were provided by state agencies, the LCB Fiscal Division, and the Budget Division of the Department of Administration for FY 2015, FY 2016, and FY 2017. The Forum decided to retain some of its previous estimates (Modified Business Tax and Real Property Transfer Tax) and updated other estimates based on new information (Gaming Percentage Fee, Sales Tax, Live Entertainment Tax, and Insurance Premium Tax). Compared to the December 2014 forecast, General Fund projections have increased by $11.8 million. However, the Forum decided that this was an incomplete picture and that it also needed to take into account the impact of tax credits (see page 173) approved by the Legislature over the last several years: the transferable film tax credit, the Nevada New Markets Jobs Act, the transferable economic development tax credit provided to Tesla, and the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship (approved in the 2015 Session). The total impact of these tax credits is $22.9 million in FY 2015, $79.3 million in FY 2016 and $76 million in FY 2017. After taking the new projections and tax credits into account, the difference between the December 2014 forecast and the current forecast is a reduction in revenue of $164.4 million.
On Saturday, May 2
AWM and SFIN, meeting jointly, closed budgets for Statewide Decision Units that included statewide inflation, fringe benefit adjustments, and suspension of longevity payments. A table of rates and subsidies for State employee health care benefits was provided for the discussion of fringe benefits adjustments. The joint committees also received and approved Subcommittee budget closing reports for the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs; the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation; the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange; and the Director’s Office and Division of Public and Behavioral Health in DHHS.
Floor Actions (Thirteenth Week)
Floor sessions this week in general were brief and ceremonial.
Signed by the Governor
As of the end of the thirteenth week, 25 bills had passed both Houses and were signed by the Governor. One time-sensitive measure, noted below, relating to the current budget shortfall, is in the Governor’s Office pending signature. 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.
AB505, (pending signature), suspension of agency benefit collections in May and June, 2015, to help address current budget shortfall.
Fourteenth Week’s Committee Schedule (Monday, May 4—Friday, May 8, 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 96 in the Assembly, and 114 in the Senate along with one joint resolution.
Some highlighted committee meetings and selected bills currently scheduled for the fourteenth week are as follows.
On Monday, May 4
AWM/SFIN (8 am) in its Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIP closes certain budgets for the Department of Education and the State Public Charter School Authority.
SFIN/AWM (8 am) in it Subcommittee on Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Transportation closes certain budgets in the Department of Public Safety that include the Highway Patrol, Parole and Probation, Emergency Management, and Highway Safety.
ACL (1:30 pm) hears several bills that include SB241(R3) which revises provisions relating to collective bargaining, SB242(R1) that requires payday lenders to use best practices, and AB481 that provides additional authority for the enforcement of the laws prohibiting deceptive trade practices and creates the Consumer Affairs Unit in the Department of Business and Industry.
AED (3:15 pm) considers SB463(R2) relating to education and concerning the collection of personally identifiable information; and conducts a work session on SB390(R1) and SB208(R1) relating to charter schools, and SB313(R1) that authorizes the governing body of a private or university school for profoundly gifted pupils to provide a program of distance education.
The Legislative Commission’s Audit Subcommittee (5 pm) reviews an audit report on the Division of Health Care Financing and Policy in DHHS.
On Tuesday, May 5
SFIN/AWM (8 am) in its Subcommittee on Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Transportation closes certain budgets for the Colorado River Commission, the Department Of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles that includes System Modernization.
ATAX (1:30 pm) hears SB74(R1) that revises provisions governing the abatement of taxes for economic development purposes, and SB411(R1) which allows the imposition of additional statutory taxes in a county to fund school district capital projects based on the recommendations of a Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee and voter approval.
SED (3:30 pm) considers SB332 that makes an appropriation to the Clark County School District to carry out a program of teacher peer evaluations, AB226(R1) to revise provisions for the payment of certain undergraduate fees and expenses of certain dependent children, and AB447 relating to the statewide performance evaluation system.
SREV (3:30 pm) is scheduled to hear AB57 that revises provisions governing the taxation of direct mail purchases, and to conduct a work session on SB483 relating to governmental financial administration that makes permanent the “sunset” taxes and other tax law changes.
ALOE (4 pm) considers SB274(R1) governing the State’s delegates to any Federal constitutional conventions, SB293(R1) relating to the disposition of unspent campaign contributions, SB403(R1) to revise provisions relating to elections, and SB499(R1) to revise certain deadlines relating to elections.
AWM (6 pm) closes certain budgets for the Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Controller, and Legislative Counsel Bureau.
On Wednesday, May 6
AWM/SFIN (8 am) in it Subcommittee on Human Services closes certain budgets for the Division of Public and Behavioral Health in DHHS.
SFIN/AWM (8 am) in its Subcommittee on General Government closes budgets for the Judicial Branch and Department of Taxation.
SGA (1 pm) hears several bills that include AB364(R1) which revises provisions relating to the State business portal.
AED (3:15 pm) hears SB330(R2) to revise provisions relating to education and pertaining to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, and SB394(R1) relating to the protection of children and instruction in personal safety.
SLOE (3:30 pm) considers several measures including two proposals to amend the Nevada Constitution: AJR8to require approval of certain initiative measures by a two-thirds vote and AJR10(R1) to revise provisions relating to the compensation of certain elected officers; and conducts a work session on two elections bills: AB94(R1) and AB462(R1).
On Thursday, May 7
AWM/SFIN (8 am) in its Subcommittee on Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Transportation closes certain budgets for the Department of Corrections, and for the Criminal History Repository in the Department of Public Safety.
SFIN/AWM (8 am) in its Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIPS closes budgets for the Nevada System of Higher Education and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
ATAX (1:30 pm) hears SB155(R1) to revise provisions relating to farm vehicles and implements of husbandry, and SB334(R1) that proposes to exempt certain medical equipment and appliances from the sales and use tax.
On Friday, May 8
AWM and SFIN (8 am), meeting separately, close budgets for the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology in the Governor’s Office; the Administration budget of the Department of Agriculture; and for the Public Utilities Commission, Colorado River Commission, and Public Employees’ Retirement System.
May 4 (Monday)—Start Resolving Budget Differences
May 15 (Friday)—Committee Passage Second House
May 21 (Thursday)—Finish Budget Differences
May 22 (Friday)—Second House Passage
May 27 (Wednesday)—Budget Bills Introduced, Exempt Bills from Committee
June 1 (Monday)—End Date for Regular Session