Breaking It Down: Nevada Lawmakers Propose Nearly 200 Bills

Mar 21, 2017

Monday marked the first major deadline for lawmakers during the 2017 legislative session in Nevada. Legislators worked late into the evening to introduce personal bills.

Throughout the day, lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate worked to introduce nearly 200 bills. The legislation deals with everything from the implementation of the state’s recreation marijuana industry to taxes on renewable energy sales.

Reno Public Radio's Paul Boger and Michelle Billman discuss the importance of the deadline, and how some of the bills may play out over the next 12 weeks.

Here is a sampling of some of the more interesting and controversial bills introduced…

CRIMINAL JUSTICE:

SB321  - Gives the Nevada Department of Corrections the ability to grant state funds to community-based organizations that assist offenders with reentry into society.

SB360  - Revises the definition of what constitutes abuse and exploitation of an older or vulnerable person. It also increases the penalties for such crimes.

AB336  - Requires prison wardens to determine the educational needs and vocational skills of inmates who are veterans. The director of the Department of Corrections will take that information and align veteran inmates with the appropriate education and workforce development programs.

AB341  - Increases legal protections for minors in the criminal justice system. It allows an attorney to consult or seek the help of social workers, mental health professionals, teachers or other experts. This bill requires police to keep a recording of all interviews and assumes all juveniles are indigent for the purpose of appointing a defense attorney.

EDUCATION:

SB322  - Requires high school students pass a civics exam, identical to the naturalization test adopted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, in order to graduate.

SB359  - Brings Education Savings Accounts back to the forefront. The ESAs allow parents to take public funds and use them for private or homeschool. Under the proposal, the state would appropriate $60 million and would issue vouchers on a first-come, first-serve basis. The measure would also remove ESAs from the purview of the state treasurer and would place the program under a newly created office within the Department of Education.

SB390  - Extends the Zoom School program for another two years. Adopted in 2013, the schools were created to provide comprehensive programs and services for English language learners. However, the schools were only funded for the 2013-2014 biennium. This bill will once again extend financing for the schools into the 2018-2019 school year.

AB331  - Removes the state’s community colleges from the purview of the Nevada System of Higher Education and would create the new Nevada Board of Community Colleges.

AB346  - Sets in place rules on who can and cannot legally run a childcare facility in the state. Requires background checks for employees of childcare facilities. Also mandates such facilities to ensure children wear helmets when riding bikes/scooters/skates.

AB348  - Changes how families opt into or out of sexual education in public schools and updates that curriculum. Currently, parents of public school children are required to give written consent in order for their student to receive sex-education in school. Under AB348, the state’s position will reverse. Parents will instead have to opt-out of the program. The new course will also contain evidence-based and medically accurate information regarding sexually transmitted illnesses and the human reproductive system. The course will also touch on sexual responsibility including the importance of consent and abstinence.

AB351  - Creates the framework for the state Department of Education to give grants to teachers or other education professionals who work in critical shortage areas.

AB362  - Prohibits any individual or contractor who has had sexual misconduct with a minor from gaining employment with a public school.

HEALTHCARE:

SB325  - Allows the resident children of immigrants lawfully in the United States to enroll in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), even if they have not lived in the US for five years.

AB374  - Allows anyone in Nevada to buy into the state’s Medicaid program regardless of income level. The health care program would be available for purchase under the state’s health exchange and the annual premium for the coverage would be set at 150 percent of the previous year’s median individual expenditure.

AB408  - Seeks to protect the most popular aspects of the federal Affordable Care Act in state law. This is popular among democrats and includes a provision to allow children to stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26. People with pre-existing conditions would not be denied coverage and there would be coverage for maternity and newborn care. The Senate introduced similar legislation (SB394) late Monday.

IMMIGRATION:

SB333  - Prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances or laws stopping policies and sheriffs from working with federal officials to enforce immigration laws.

AB357  - Restricts state and local governmental agencies from performing certain actions relating to federal immigration enforcement. Essentially the measure duplicates a bill sponsored by Senator Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas).

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT:

SB336  - Imposes a tax on the wholesale sale of electricity garnered from renewable sources. The bill does not state the proposed tax rate.

AB342  - States that any entity that operates a facility which uses renewable energy to create electricity for less than 540 people or places is not considered a utility.

AB344  - Imposes a 10-cent fee on every plastic bag used at a retailer. It also seeks to ban the use of retail plastic bags by 2022. If retailers continue to use the bags, they could be subject to a fine. All proceeds from the tax would be put to a Plastic Bag Environmental Clean-up Fund.

MARIJUANA:

SB329  - Creates a framework in which medical marijuana research facilities can operate. The bill sets up a certification process and requires any research to be approved by a panel of scientists.

SB341  - Allows local governments to request the registration of additional medical marijuana businesses beyond what the state has already approved. It would also prohibit those municipalities from taxing more than 3 percent of a business’s total revenue.

SB344  - Bars marijuana manufacturers from creating or advertising any product that may appeal to children, such as candy. The measure also requires edible producers to list the amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in each dose as well as limit the amount of active THC in a single package.

SB374  - Prohibits employers from taking any action against an employee who lawfully uses marijuana as long as the employee’s use of marijuana does not interfere with their job performance.

SB375  - Gives the governor or his designee the ability to enter into negotiations with native tribal governments in order to implement the state’s marijuana laws on tribal lands.

SB396  - Authorizes a licensed massage therapist to use marijuana oils on a patient or client.

TRANSPORTATION:

AB329  - Makes it illegal to drive slowly in the left lane of a highway. First offense is a $50 ticket.

AB401  - Requires a person registering or renewing the tags for a hybrid or clean-fuel vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles to pay an additional fee. Fees are $336 for the clean fuel vehicle and $168 for a hybrid. The money collected will be split with half being used for county highways and the remainder being placed in the State Highway Fund.

OTHERS:

AB375  - Gives a local flood management authority the ability to recommend new taxes to pay for flood control projects. Any proposed taxes will be placed on the ballot for voter approval.

AB402  - Allows voters to decide whether to remove state sales taxes on feminine hygiene products and diapers. If the measure passes the legislature, it would still need the approval of voters in 2018. If they give the okay, the bill will become law in 2019. The Senate has also introduced similar legislation (SB415).

SB319  - Will allow the director of the Department of Motor Vehicles to notify the Secretary of State if they have reason to believe a registered voter in not a U.S. citizen.