Hundreds of bills introduced into the 2017 Legislative Session in Nevada are officially dead. Reno Public Radio's Noah Glick spoke to our political reporter, Paul Boger, about the latest.
Nearly a quarter of the proposed bills introduced into the 2017 Legislative Session are officially dead. Before last week, there were more than one thousand bills up for consideration, but last Friday marked the deadline for lawmakers to advance legislation through a committee in its house of origin.
Another 250 bills have either been shuffled past the deadline. Legislation can be advanced past the committee deadline for a few different reasons. They include an exemption due to the bill’s fiscal impact on the state, a waiver signed by either the Speaker of the Assembly or the Senate Majority Leader or if the bill was rereferred to a finance committee before the deadline.
Below is a list of bills that lived and died last Friday. It is in no way comprehensive, but a quick glimpse of legislation of note or previously covered by Reno Public Radio.
BILLS THAT ARE DEAD
SB170 – Sunshine Laws:
Backed by the ACLU of Nevada, the bill sought to impose time restrictions governmental bodies to respond to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. The measure would have also waived fees for applicants pushed for more public access to legislative records.
But several municipal and county governments rallied against the bill arguing that the measure would overwork employees in charge of responding to such requests.
SB223 – Sanctuary State Proposals:
Introduced in late February, Senator Yvanna Cancela’s (D-Las Vegas) bill would have prohibited state and local police from working with federal officials to enforce immigration laws.
The measure was controversial from the start. Law enforcement groups saw the measure as an overreach by lawmakers. Some said the bill was too restrictive, others said it would force police to break their oaths to protect and serve
AB164 – Voter ID:
Reno Republican Lisa Krasner’s proposal to implement voter ID laws across the state was introduced early in the session. It was then the Assembly Committee on Legislation Operations and Elections where it sat and sat and sat without ever having a hearing.
AB331 – Independent Community College Board:
One of the more interesting bills of the session (in my opinion) also died a relatively quite death last Friday. The measure would have removed the state’s four community colleges from under the Nevada System of Higher Education and placed them under their own board.
During a hearing, those in favor of the measure made a case in which community college funding is regularly shortchanged in favor of the state’s four-year institutions.
Yet, the community college systems current set of leaders voiced opposition to the bill. Chief among the complaints were concerns that the process would be both disruptive and expensive, pulling resources away from students.
Lawmakers never voted on the bill.
AB344 – Plastic Bag Tax:
Another bill on the hit list would have imposed a 10 cent fee on every plastic bag used at a retailer. The measure, by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas) also looked 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.
Despite demands that his proposed legislation be heard, a slew of bills crafted by Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office has gone by the wayside.
The measures included provisions that would increase punishments for crimes involving Medicaid fraud, repeat domestic violence offenders and sex trafficking.
While most of these proposals from the AG’s office were also contained in legislation from other members of the legislature, the decision to not hold a hearing on the bills was likely a truly partisan decision from Democratic leadership.
BILLS STILL ALIVE
AB382 – The measure would cap the fees a hospital or physician could levy on out-of-network patients seeking emergency care. The measure is backed by a number of private residents as well as groups representing state and local Firefighters and EMTs.
AB374 – The “Medicaid for All” bill introduced by Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle of Sparks would have allowed anyone in Nevada to buy into the state’s Medicaid program is still alive, but only technically. Lawmakers on the Assembly’s Health and Human Services Committee amended the measure into a study looking into Medicaid buy-in.
AB408 – Efforts to codify the ACA into state law are still ongoing. However, lawmakers have placed into the bill and amendment that makes it clear the measure is only intended to keep the status quo. It is not, in any way, an attempt to “expand the current insurance coverage required by the federal government.”
AB206 – Assembly Chris Brooks’ (D-Las Vegas) bill would make changes to Nevada’s energy portfolio by adding a re3quirements that power providers must get 80 percent of their energy production from renewable resources like solar or geothermal by the year 2040. The state’s current portfolio sets a requirement of 25 percent of renewable energy production by 2025.
The measure has seen widespread support from environmental groups, but members of Nevada’s gaming and resort industries have voiced concerns that the measure could increase electric costs. NV Energy, the state’s largest utility, also opposition, offering an amendment that effectively removed any teeth from the bill.
While the bill is still alive, it is not out of committee. Legislative leaders granted AB206 a waiver, allowing lawmakers more time to work out a compromise between energy providers and the state.
AB207 – The push for pre-2015 net metering rates is in the same boat as the measure above. Lawmakers have already held several hearings on the bill, but have not taken any definite action.
AB97 – There are approximately 8,000 untested rape kits, some decades old, are sitting in evidence rooms across Nevada. However, AB97 could put an end to that backlog by requiring police to send all sexual assault kits to a lab for testing within 30 days. That lab would then have 120 days to complete the testing.
AB186 – State funded pre-k has been floundering, but a proposal that would require all elementary schools in the state to develop a pre-k program has been amended. The measure was ambitious and carried with it a $353 million price tag. Under a new plan, the state would devout $10 million dollars to expand the existing system.
The measure would have also mandated that children start school by age 5. Current law requires compulsory education a 7. In a compromise between lawmakers and home-school advocate who worry children are not ready for structured education at 5, settled on 6 as the age children will have to start school.
AB348 – Opt-out sex education appears to have been reshaped into a program that would require parents to actively assent to their children being placed in the class. The changes to the bill more closely mirror the Nevada’s current policies. However, schools would now be required to follow-up with a parent who did not indicate a preference.
In total there are 23 marijuana related bills currently up for consideration the legislative process.
Some of those provisions include protections for workers from employer retaliation if they use weed as well as prohibitions on retailers selling products that may appeal to children.
There was also a controversial measure that would give local governments the ability to permit businesses to allow smoking in public places like bars or special events.
Now that a majority of the bills are through the committee process, you can expect to see lawmakers seriously turn their attention to floor action. They’ll only have until April 25th, to pass the bills out of their house of origin. That means members of both the Assembly and Senate have 9 days to pass around 600 bills.
There will also be more attention paid to the budget writing process in general. Senate and Assembly leaders have been holding presentations from state agencies about their budgets since the beginning of the session. Now, those budget writers are starting the process of finalizing the next biennium, but the final revenue projection of the session is still a few weeks away.