Guinn Center Legislative Update: March 16, 2015

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2015 Legislative Manual Now Available

The 2015 Legislative Manual, published by the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB), became available online last week on the Legislative website. This detailed reference manual contains biographies of all legislators, and chapters on legislative structure, procedures, the LCB, and additional resources for the legislators and the public. It includes legislative district, building and State agency maps, along with a comprehensive directory of contact information for State and local government departments, agencies, boards and officials. A paperback manual may be purchased from the LCB Publications Office for $35.

Abbreviations Guide


By the end of sixth week, 305 Assembly bills and 285 Senate bills had been introduced. Of the total 590 bills introduced in the Legislature by the end of the sixth week, 253 were committee introductions that essentially are controlled by the majority party in each House, and 337 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 337 legislator bills, 79 (23.4 percent) were bipartisan in that they included one or more co-sponsors from the opposite party. Among the 164 Senate bills in that category, 32 (19.5 percent) were bipartisan.  Among the similar 173 Assembly bills, there were 47 (27.2 percent) that featured bipartisan support.

Committee Hearings and Actions (Sixth Week)

On Monday, March 9

AWM/SFIN in a joint meeting reviewed the budgets and received presentations from the Offices of Energy and for Nuclear Projects in the Office of the Governor. The Energy Office highlighted its loan and assistance programs, and discussion by the Nuclear Projects Office included a review of Yucca Mountain developments, current licensing proceedings, Nevada’s challenges to the U.S. Department of Energy license application, and the State’s ongoing actions.

AJUD in work session reported both Initiative Petition 1and Initiative Petition 2 without recommendation. The Chairman noted that he wanted to move the petitions out of committee and to leadership for their possible consideration before the Friday, March 13, deadline for legislative action.

AGA considered AB162 relating to the use of portable event recording devices by law enforcement while on duty. The bill received general support, and amendments were proposed (see Exhibits) to deal with concerns that included the expense and unfunded mandate of the technology, exempting undercover and other officers who do not interact with the public, video retention periods, public record requests, and operational policies and procedures.

SLOE heard SCR1, which would create an interim study concerning the professional development of teachers and administrators. The Guinn Center testified about the need for evaluation of professional development and highlighted relevant findings from its report coauthored by Nevada Succeeds, Reforming Professional Development to Improve Literacy Outcomes in Nevada.

The Committee also considered SJR6 which would amend the Nevada Constitution to revise the method for determining the minimum wage as it relates to the provision of health benefits. The sponsor offered a conceptual amendment to remove the minimum wage provisions from the Constitution and place them in the statutes with protections for the current wage levels and tying increases to the Consumer Price Index. (Note: A new Fact Sheet on the minimum wage from the Research Division of LCB summarizes the current wage and legal basis in Nevada, its background and history, and comparisons with other states.)

AED amended and approved AB165,with an 8-6 party line vote. The bill would create the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program. As amended, the program would provide tax credits to businesses that donate to scholarships for students to attend private schools. The maximum amount of tax credits would be $5 million in FY 2016 and $5.5 million in FY 2017, which is half of the original proposal. Families with incomes up to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level would be eligible for the scholarship and the maximum scholarship would be $7,755. The Guinn Center published an op-ed, School Choice Should Not Leave Rural Nevadans Behind, outlining our concerns with the Educational Choice Scholarship Program, as currently proposed.

The Committee also heard AB205, which creates the Nevada Advisory Commission on Mentoring. The purpose of the Commission is to support and facilitate existing mentorship programs to aid in addressing issues relating to education, health, criminal justice and employment with respect to socioeconomically disadvantaged children in Nevada. In addition, the Committee heard AB206, which requires notices to parents regarding health or bullying to include a list of any resources that may be available in the community to assist the pupil, including resources available at no or reduced cost.

On Tuesday, March 10

AWM/SFIN in its Joint Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIPS reviewed capital improvement projects for NSHE, the Department of Veterans Services, the Office of the Military, and various statewide paving and other maintenance programs. The State Public Works Division furnished a presentation that included descriptions and justifications for the proposed projects.

STRN considered SB2 that would increase from 75 to 85 mph the maximum speed limit in the State, subject to existing limitations. The measure received support that included limited experiences with increases in a few other states, and significant opposition primarily based on public safety concerns (see Exhibits).

ANRAM received overview presentations from the Nevada Division of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service that included a map of its managed lands in the State, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The presentations included the firefighting capabilities and resources of the agencies.

SREV amended and passed SB74 to revise provisions governing the partial abatement of taxes for new or expanding businesses for economic development purposes. It also amended and passed SB93 to authorize aviation businesses to apply to GOED for a partial abatement from personal property and sales taxes for aircraft related parts and property. The “Work Session” documents in the Exhibits provide summary explanations of both bills and their amendments. The Committee also considered SB95 that revises provisions to require the publication of property tax rolls on the Internet website of local governments. The Nevada Assessor’s Association provided a summary of newspaper costs to the State’s counties for printing the rolls.

SED heard SB212, which provides more discretion to schools regarding the discipline of pupils. This bill allows district superintendents to modify the existing suspension or expulsion requirement in cases where a pupil commits a battery which results in bodily injury of a school employee, sells or distributes a controlled substance, or is deemed a habitual disciplinary problem. The bill also removes the provision which makes it a misdemeanor to disturb the peace of any public school by using vile or indecent language within the building or grounds of the school. The Nevada State Education Association submitted an amendment to place more emphasis on corrective action to address behavior problems prior to returning to the classroom.

On Wednesday, March 11

AWM/SFIN in its Joint Subcommittee on Human Services reviewed the mental health budgets of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, DHHS, which included a detailed presentation on its budget enhancements and transfers. The major request is 154 new positions at Stein Hospital in Southern Nevada, which is under construction and will open in October 2015. Topics discussed included: (1) how the Affordable Care Act has resulted in mental health services being funded more by Medicaid than by the General Fund; (2) the positive impact of increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for psychiatric hospitalization on reducing waits in emergency rooms for behavioral health clients; (3) the problems that some Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program providers have faced in transitioning to billing Medicaid services; and (4) the continued difficulty in hiring Senior Psychiatrists and Psychiatric Nursing positions and the reliance on contract positions.

AWM/SFIN in its Joint Subcommittee on General Government reviewed the budgets and received presentations from the Nevada Supreme Court, which included its case resolution statistics, information on the new voter approved Court of Appeals, and other programs and systems; and the Enterprise Information Technology Services Division in the Department of Administration, that reflected its successes and challenges in merging technology with the Department of Public Safety and its enhancements for the information technology system of the Executive Branch of State government.

AGA in work session approved without recommendation, by a vote of 9 to 5, AB190, to change the public employees’ retirement program to a defined contribution system for new employees, and re-referred the bill to AWM for further consideration due to its fiscal impacts.

SGA heard SB111 providing for the use of portable event recording devices by local law enforcement in Clark and Washoe Counties. The sponsor indicated that the measure would be amended to include law enforcement statewide and deal with other issues. While there was general agreement with the concept of the bill, similar concerns were raised (see AB162 in AGA on Monday, March 9), along with the implementation date.

SLOE considered SJR8 which would amend the Nevada Constitution to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour worked, if the employer provides health benefits, or $16 per hour if not provided. Substantial testimony was offered in support of and opposition to the proposed legislation. (See new LCB Fact Sheet.) Like all new, proposed constitutional amendments in the current legislative session, this resolution would need to be approved in identical form in both this and the 2017 session, and be approved by the voters in the 2018 general election.

AED heard and approved SB101, which revises provisions related to reemployment of employees of school districts. The Committee took the following actions on bills heard at previous meetings: (1) amended and approved AB 76, which makes changes to the education of veterans and their dependents; 2) amended and approved AB112, regarding a safe and respectful learning environment for children enrolled in public schools; 3) amended and approved AB117, allowing a school district to lease its buses in certain circumstances; and 4) approved AB150, regarding the millennium scholarship.

On Thursday, March 12

AWM/SFIN in its Joint Subcommittee on Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Transportation reviewed the budgets and received a presentation from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on the Divisions of State Parks, Water Resources, Natural Heritage Program, and Environmental Protection (NDEP). The NDEP presentation included a major budget amendment (beginning on page 38) to create the Bureau of Industrial Site Cleanup to address the further cleanup of perchlorate and other hazardous substances released from the former Kerr-McGee/Tronox site in southern Nevada, which was discovered in 1997. The funding results from a recent multi-state settlement totaling $5.1 billion (called the largest ever environmental settlement by the Federal Government) of which $1.1 billion is earmarked and held in trust for the cleanup of those properties in Nevada (also the largest ever for this State). While perchlorate levels from the Las Vegas Wash into Lake Mead have been reduced below standard safety levels, the settlement allows NDEP, under the guidelines of the agreement and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to fully address and remove perchlorate and other contaminants from the groundwater, which will take decades to complete.

ATAX conducted a conceptual and informational discussion of the sales and use tax, led by Assemblyman Pat Hickey (R-Reno) who provided a table that highlighted statewide taxable sales figures in 17 major business categories for Fiscal Year 2010 to 2014. The general discussion included topics such as the tax effects on small business, regressivity, exporting the tax to tourists, possible revenues gains by increasing the rates for the Local School Support Tax, impacts of a tax holiday, and other related issues.

SED held a work session on two bills. SB200 was approved with an amendment to delete a provision that would have given enrollment preference to children who live in an area where a charter school received land at no more than 25 percent of the appraised value. The committee approved a provision that gives enrollment preference to children who reside on a military base, for charter schools located on the base. The Committee also amended and approved SB205, regarding emergency management plans at schools.

The Committee also heard SB211, which: (1) requires a school district to set the time for the commencement of a school day no earlier than 7AM for an elementary school, 8 AM for a middle school, and 9AM for high school; (2) requires public high schools to provide a course of instruction in ethnic studies; (3) requires a pupil to pass such a course to graduate from high school; and (4) requires the Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools to prescribe standards of content and performance for the course. CCSD submitted an amendment to delete the requirement for passage of a course in ethnic studies at the high school level for graduation and to add an embedded unit of study on culture and diversity in the social studies curriculum in grades 3-5. There was testimony on the benefits of late start times and CCSD discussed the budget and implementation issues associated with the late start times.

Additionally, the Committee heard SB215 related to student loans. The bill: (1) requires the Director of the Department of Business and Industry to develop and implement a program to provide loans to refinance certain student loans; (2) authorizes the issuance of revenue bonds to pay the cost of the program; (3) requires the Director to compile and disseminate certain information about private lending institutions that make student loans to residents of this State; (4) requires the Director to prepare informational material relating to student loans, and providing for the distribution of that material by postsecondary educational institutions; (5) requires the Director to prepare reports relating to the amount of indebtedness incurred for student loans by students attending educational institutions in Nevada; (6) requires postsecondary educational institutions to provide certain financial information to persons who apply for admission to those institutions; and (7) repeals provisions relating to an existing student loan program.

SREV considered SB182 that directs the Office of Economic Development to create a pilot program to encourage the growth and expansion of existing businesses located in the State through the use of information and technology. The bill includes a $300,000 appropriation (not in the Governor’s proposed budget) to NSHE for the participating higher education centers to finance a geographic information system, staff and other services. In work session, the Committee passed SB95 that revises provisions to require the publication of property tax rolls on the Internet website of local governments.

On Friday, March 13

AWM/SFIN in its Joint Subcommittee on Human Resources reviewed the budgets, took testimony and received a presentation on Developmental Services in the Aging and Disability Services Division, DHHS. The presentation included caseload and other enhancements for the Family Preservation Program that provides a monthly stipend to families for the care of persons with profound intellectual disability, and for the three regional centers that provide services to persons with intellectual disabilities and related conditions.

SED heard SB227, which would provide $10 million over the biennium to create a need-based scholarship called the Silver State Opportunity Grant Program. NSHE provided a presentation on the need for the scholarship and the eligibility requirements. Qualifications for the scholarship include: (1) full time enrollment; (2) enrollment in a program of study leading to a degree or certificate; (3) placement in college level courses in math and English; (4) classification as a Nevada resident; and (5) completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The cost of attendance would be shared by the state, federal government, family, and student. The Guinn Center provided testimony about the benefits of a need-based scholarship program based on its report, State of Latinos in the Intermountain West. There was substantial testimony in support of this measure but some concerns were raised about the need to target the scholarship toward fields where there is a skills gap.

 Floor Actions (Sixth Week)

Governor Brian Sandoval’s tax reform proposal for the Business License Fee, SB252, was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday, March 11, and referred to SREV. Majority Leader and Chairman of SREV, Senator Michael Roberson (R-Henderson), cancelled all other afternoon committee meetings and directed all Senators to attend the SREV meeting at 1 pm on Wednesday, March 18, to hear the bill, which is expected to be presented by the Governor.

On Monday, March 9, Initiative Petition 1, that would legalize marijuana in the State, and Initiative Petition 2, that would provide for background checks on the sale or transfer of firearms, were reported to the Assembly by AJUD without recommendation. On Wednesday, March 11, both petitions were placed on the Chief Clerk’s desk. Since no further action was taken by the Legislature within 40 days (by Friday, March 13), the petitions will be submitted to the voters at the November 2016 General Election.

 Seventh Week’s Committee Schedule (Monday, Mar. 16—Friday, Mar. 20, 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 and selected bills currently scheduled for the seventh week are as follows.

 On Monday, March 16

Note: Due to the deadline on this date for Legislator’s Bill Introductions, the Assembly floor session is scheduled for 1:30 pm, rather than its normal 11:30 am starting time; both Houses may have more than one floor session to accommodate these introductions; and afternoon committee start times could be affected.

SCL (8:30 am) has scheduled SB242 that adopts certain provisions of the Community Financial Services Association of America’s Best Practices for the Payday Loan Industry.

SFIN (9 am) has a review of the budget work session process and budget subcommittee, committee and joint full committee closing process from the Senate Fiscal Analyst of the LCB.

ACL (12 pm) hears AB179 that expands the definition of “personal information” for businesses that collect such information to include certain electronic, passport, and medical and health information that would increase a person’s likelihood for identity theft.

AHHS (upon adjournment of AJUD) receives an update presentation from the Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease.

SGA (1:30 pm) considers SB157 that enacts the State and Local Government Cooperation Act to provide consistency with “interpretive rulings” and encourage communication and positive working relationships between the Executive Department of State Government and local governments.

AED (3:15 pm) hears AB226 to revise provisions for the payment of certain undergraduate fees and expenses of a dependent child of a public safety officer killed in the line of duty, and AB234 that enacts provisions related to multicultural education.

SLOE (3:30 pm) conducts a work session on three measures: SB19 that authorizes school district boards to place an advisory question on a general election ballot; SJR2 which urges Congress to share Federal receipts from commercial activity on certain public lands with the State and its counties; and SJR3 that would amend the Nevada Constitution to provide for the joint election of the Lieutenant Governor with the Governor.

 On Tuesday, March 17

AWM/SFIN (8 am) in its Joint Subcommittee on Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Transportation reviews the budget for the Criminal History Repository in DPS; and the Bond Construction and Transportation Administration budgets for NDOT.

AWM/SFIN (8 am) reviews various budgets of the Department of Education that include early childhood education, educator licensure and literacy programs; and the budgets for the State Public Charter School Authority.

AGA (8:30 am) hears AB236 that enacts provisions related to the promotion of public engagement by State agencies that include the use of the Internet and its tools.

ATAX (1:30 pm) has an overview and discussion of property taxes with presentations from the Department of Taxation, Nevada Association of Counties and the City of Las Vegas; and hears AB56 to revise provisions regarding the equalization of property assessments for taxation.

SED (3:30 pm) considers SB220 that requires financial literacy instruction in public middle and junior high schools.

SREV (3:30 pm) conducts a hearing on SJR13 that proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to limit the total amount of property taxes that may be levied on real property.

On Wednesday, March 18

AWM/SFIN (8 am) reviews various budgets of the Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation.

AGA (8:30 am) hears AB202 that makes certain changes relating to the acquisition of land by a county.

SREV (1 pm) conducts the initial hearing on SB252 to revise provisions governing the State business license fee, which is the Governor’s major tax reform proposal. Since all legislators will be attending this meeting, no other afternoon committees are scheduled on this date.

 On Thursday, March 19

AGA (8:30 am) considers AB274 to revise provisions relating to the incorporation of a city.

ANRAM (1:30 pm) receives overview presentations from the Nevada Mining Association and the Nevada Mineral Exploration Coalition.

ALOE (4 pm) hears three measures: AB252 relating to elections to create the Legislative Advisory Commission on Reapportionment and Redistricting to assist the Legislature with reapportionment by preparing and submitting proposed plans; AJR6 to amend the Nevada Constitution to allow the Legislature to authorize a lottery for the support of public education and the health and welfare of senior citizens; and SJR4 that urges Congress to enact the Marketplace fairness Act.

On Friday, March 20:

AWM/SFIN (8 am) in its Joint Subcommittee on General Government reviews other budgets relating to the Enterprise Information Technology Services Division of the Department of Administration.

AGA (8:30 am) considers AB241 that creates the Advisory Military and Veterans Research Committee.

Upcoming Events

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.