Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
On March 11, the Senate Committee on Finance and the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means held a joint session in which they heard budget hearings from various divisions within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. These included the Division of Water Resources, the Division of Forestry and the Division of Natural Heritage. Committee members expressed concerns with some of the budgets because each Division mentioned a reduction in staffing in an effort to combat challenges faced throughout the pandemic response.
Bill Hearing Highlights
AB42, a bill that would allow for municipality courts to hold jury trials and would also create a state definition of battery domestic violence, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. Committee members asked questions about whether other states had made similar adjustments to their definitions of battery domestic violence and also raised concern over the expansion of the definition in section 13. Those in support of this bill believe that this bill will provide additional protections for domestic violence victims who could be at risk of further violence from their abuser possessing a firearm. Those in opposition believe that the expansions of the definition in section 13 is too limiting and could overburden the courts.
AB 64 enhances the Attorney General’s enforcement efforts against sex trafficking. It allows them ability to prosecute crimes of facilitate sex trafficking and engaging or soliciting prostitution. It also allows for AG to prosecute crimes that may be committed alongside trafficking, like kidnapping. Also adds that anyone who solicits someone posing as a child or an actual child is charged with soliciting a child.
AB 88 Focuses on creating a policy and process to address using derogatory names and symbols in schools and places in the state. Boards of trustees in school districts and charter schools must adopt a policy that prohibits use of offensive names and symbols. A school may use them with permission from the Native American tribe they refer to.
AB99, a bill that will raise the existing threshold for prevailing wage from $100,000 to $250,000, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs. Committee members asked questions about how this bill will impact the economy as well as how prevailing wage impacts the completion of projects. Those in support of this bill believe that it will positively benefit the rural communities by allowing for more jobs. Those in opposition of this bill believe that it will drastically reduce worker’s pay with no true benefit to the state or counties.
AB103, a bill that will revise existing legislation surrounding the excavation of Native burial and spiritual locations, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources. Committee members asked questions regarding the process of determining whether remains found in a location were there for burial purposes or if they just happened to be in the location when they died. Those in support believe this bill would be a vital step towards the protection of Native spirituality.
AB111 was introduced Friday Morning. The bill adds two civilian members to the Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission. Potential members must have experience regarding implicit or explicit bias, mental health in policing, or experience working with vulnerable populations. The bill aims to increase transparency in how peace officers are being trained to better serve the community and take steps to establish more community trust.
AB202 Caps the annual fee that a qualified organization must pay to host charitable games throughout the year. If an organization raises less than $100,000 over the year then they will pay no more than $10. This was brought up by smaller organizations that were having to go through multiple waiver applications after regulations were changed last session to accommodate professional sports coming into the state.
AJR3, a resolution that would coincide with the Biden Administration’s recently announced goal to protect 30% of lands and oceans by 2030, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources. Committee members asked clarifying question about what areas were impacted by the phrase “protections.” Those in support of this bill believe that it will be beneficial to the state to participate in reaching this federal goal. Those in opposition believe that this bill would negatively impact Nevadans’ rights to private property.
SB5, a bill that will expand existing legislation relating to telehealth services, was heard by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members asked questions about the specific definitions listed in this bill and how, if passed, federal changes could impact Nevada with this legislation. Those in support believe that telehealth offers opportunities for more Nevadans to receive essential medical services. Those in opposition believe that there are discrepancies in how this will impact insurers.
SB12’s goal is to retain affordable housing that is currently in the state. About 7500 units are at risk over the next five years. Affordable housing projects require the developer to keep a project designated as affordable for 30 years. After that they are able to complete a qualified contract to waive the remaining 15 years and offer the units at market value. This bill requires notice to be given to local governments and the housing authority a year prior so they can look for a purchaser to try and retain those units as affordable.
SB40, a bill that would allow for the collection of health care data to be stored in an All Payers Claim Database, was heard by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members were concerned over the possibility of this information being targeted for the vast amount of individually identifying information it could contain, and asked questions about what protections would be in place. Those in support of this bill believe that it is a significant step forward for transparency in health care for Nevadans. There were no callers in opposition of this bill. Those in neutral provided two amendments.
SB44, a bill that will revise provisions relating to behavioral health professional in order to address the current shortage in the state of Nevada, was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members were concerned with whether there would be more language added in regard to transcripts as well as with how this would impact students upon school reentry. Those in support of this bill believe that it will allow for more physicians to work in the state and improve quality of care for Nevadans.
SB114 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt regulations to identify contaminants in hemp products and prescribe tolerances for those contaminants in food products. Hemp is projected to be a $1.3B industry by 2022. Current law prohibits the sale of these products unless it has been tested and labeled according to DHHS. However, out of state products can already be purchased in store throughout the state. There is federal legislation proposed to be settled on this issue hopefully by Q2 this year.
SB139, a bill that would require health insurance companies to cover procedures that relate to gender dysphoria, was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members asked questions about the differences in definition between existing statute and the definitions laid out in this legislation. Those in support of the bill believe that this is a vital legislation that will provide trans individuals with protections to pursue gender affirming procedures in the future. Those in opposition believe that this bill will disproportionately impact smaller communities with expanded health care insurance rates.
SB146, a bill that would require mental health physicians at an attending site and at a treatment site to coordinate and communicate information relating to a child undergoing a mental health emergency, was heard by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members were concerned with the language in the bill being broad in some areas and then being strict in others. Those in support of this bill believe that it is a good step forward for the state in reaching better treatment for children afflicted with mental illness.
SB149, a bill that would allow County Commissioners to establish groundwater boards in their county, was heard by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. Committee members were interested in whether there was a demand for these boards and what led to the creation of this bill. Those in support believe that this bill will ensure that there are no policy barriers for counties that want to establish these boards and educate the state. Those in opposition believe that this is not the best timing for this legislation as stakeholders have not had an opportunity to meet and further discuss the best way to tackle this topic.
Special thanks to G3 interns Emily Espinosa and Morgan Sollano for their reporting