The Economic Forum met this week to make its final budget projections for the upcoming biennium. This forecast is the final official revenue estimate that is used by the Legislature in balancing General Fund appropriations with projected General Fund revenues for each biennial budget period. Comparisons with the December report show much more optimism in the revenue, as we have more clarity on the vaccine roll out and the state reopening plan. With travel picking up, gaming and entertainment coming back, and the convention industry slowly coming back, forecasters felt confident that the higher projections are accurate, and some may even be conservative. Overall, final projections for the state revenue over the next biennium are higher than were anticipated at the December meeting: $586 million greater for the seven major revenue streams.
Bill Hearing Highlights
AB146, a bill that would require DCNR to establish a program that would regulate water pollution at diffuse pollution sources, was heard by Senate Committee on Natural Resources. Committee members were interested in how this bill would impact the Director’s duties. Those in support of this bill believe that it is vital that Nevada take steps to bettering and ensuring the safety of the water sources in the state. Those in opposition believe that this is too much governmental oversight in this area.
AB148, a bill that would prohibit the issuance of an exploration or mining permit to applicants that have previously defaulted on a project, was heard by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. Committee members asked why this bill would be necessary in this state because there have been no recent issues in Nevada specifically that have urged the need for this law. Those in support of this bill believe that it will hold mining companies responsible when cleaning up their sites. Those in opposition to this bill believe there should be more direct definitions in the measure and would like amendments to be presented that would do so.
AB190, a bill that would allow for employees to use their paid sick leave in order to care for their family members, was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members were interested in how this bill would impact small businesses and in the penalties for non-compliance. Those in support of this bill believe that it will be beneficial to families who need to take care of their family members short-term while also ensuring that a connection between employer and employee can be maintained through mutual trust.
AB192, a bill that would align the testing of pregnant women for STDs like syphilis and others to avoid health damages to the baby and mother during pregnancy, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. Medicaid and PEB both stated that they have a fiscal impact of $0 with this bill as proposed. Those in support of the bill believe that this will give Nevada an opportunity to combat its long syphilis crisis in the Southern part of the state.
AB 205 allows for schools to administer naloxone. In 2020 alone accidental overdoses for kids between ages 8 to 17 increased a third of the total amount of accidental deaths in the last decade alone. The bill had no opposition and Assemblywoman Cohen said this was a great way to reduce the amount of deaths because even if the child was not experiencing an overdose there would be no harmful side effects to administering naloxone.
AB207, a bill that would expand public accommodation law to apply to e-commerce, was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members were interested in various technical pieces of the law regarding laws that don’t typically apply to online establishments as well as how this would impact out of state companies. Those in support of this measure believe that it will provide much needed protections to the online marketplace. Those in opposition believe that it inhibits protections of free speech.
AB249, a bill that would prohibit a common-interest communities from restricting start times on construction zones in an effort to avoid construction workers from working in excessive heat, was heard by the Senate Committee on Government Affairs. Committee members were interested in whether there would be noncompliance penalties and expressed their encouragement of the bill. Those in support of the bill believe that this is a vital bill for worker’s safety, especially in Southern Nevada.
AB 326 aims to combat the thriving illegal marijuana market in the state. Last year, revenues from the cannabis industry were around $53 million. Law enforcement in Clark County discovered one illegal operation that was estimated to produce $20 million in revenue that same year. The bill allows for a civil penalty up to $50,000 to be assessed on someone who is found to be illegally operating or advertising in the state.
AB444 would allow companies like limousine carriers to accept rides though TNC applications like Uber. Senator Pickard was concerned that the bill would create a beast that serves two masters by having two companies regulate one driver. An amendment was submitted by Uber to make sure that responsibilities of the driver were not also required by the TNC or the certified motor company.
SB5, a bill that would expand existing legislation relating to telehealth services, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members asked a variety of question about the parity provision and mentioned their concerns over the potential consequences of passing this bill. Those in support of this bill believe that it is vital to implement and continue telehealth outside of the COVID-19 pandemic because of its impact in expanding health care access to underserved communities. Those in opposition to this bill are not against the provisions regarding telehealth services, but rather the provisions that require parity between in-person and telehealth visits.
SB18, a bill that would give the PUCN the authority to impose stronger administrative fines relating to noncompliance, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Growth and Infrastructure. Committee members were interested in the determination of the amount of the fine for a specific business and where the fine dollars go after being collected. Those in support of this bill believe that it is vital that public utilities be held accountable as the state works towards their environmental and conservation goals.
SB44 would allow for provisional licensing to be granted to behavioral health specialists in the state since there is such a high need. The bill originally included a study that would look at licensing requirements in the state but through an amendment that was removed since it was determined it would change virtually nothing. The amendment also allows military personnel, veterans and spouses to apply for a license and pay half of the required fee.
SB57, a bill that would authorize county commissioners to take more action on repeat offenders relating to short term rentals and other properties, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. Committee members were interested in how many cases this would apply to and whether there would be any additional actions that could be taken to not potentially impact other homeowners. Those in support believe that this will give counties the tools needed to further address concerns related to those in non-compliance. Those in opposition believe that this is too overpowering and will cause more problems for those that are in compliance.
SB61, a bill that would make adjustments to the vending program currently run by the Bureau of Services to Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members were interested in what the Bureau’s position would be in receiving the applications for these facilities to be established and what their process was for approval. Those who called in for support stated they were thankful for the amended language. Those in opposition believe that, while this bill is vital and should be passed, it should only be considered when these vending services can serve at full capacity. Those who provided neutral testimony stated they did so because of the adoption of Amendment No. 176.
SB77, a bill that would exempt meetings between Board members from the Open Meeting Law when discussing issues relating to NEPA, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs. Committee members expressed their concern about this leading towards less government transparency and less participation from the public in voicing their concerns on NEPA. Those in support of the bill believe that it will allow County Commissioners to be fully engaged in the processes regarding NEPA. Those in opposition believe that this could lead to future legislation that continues to lead to less government transparency.
SB254, a bill that would remove discrimination against ex-felons who are looking to enter into an affordable lease upon release, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs. Committee members were interested in whether this applied to all housing complexes or public housing, and they were also interested in enforcement methods. Those in support of this measure believe that this bill will reduce recidivism and foster healthy community growth. Those in opposition believe that it the amended language would work against the intent of the bill, and also believe that this would limit the rights of property owners.
SB275, a bill that would modernize existing laws relating to HIV in an effort to remove discriminatory language, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members were interested in whether this would impact potential charges against people who are intentionally trying to cause harm with their communicable disease after diagnosis. Those in support of this bill believe that it is an important step to removing discriminatory and outdated laws that have disproportionately impacted minority communities.
SB288, a bill that would redefine “monitored autonomous vehicle” as well as prohibits a MAV provider from manipulative practices, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Growth and Infrastructure. Committee members were interested in whether this bill would have any impact on the liability of the companies and insurance agencies involved. Those in opposition to the bill believe that there are pieces of the bill that allow for AVs to be “logged off” which doesn’t seem like it should be something that is allowed with this technology.
SB289 would clarify workman’s comp issues that have arrived since SB33’s passage in past sessions. The bill has been worked on extensively by all stakeholders and they have all had their concerns remedied. An amendment from the assembly side would allow nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to complete the C4 document and initial treatment required to get these claims started. This change is necessary to allow people from rural communities that don’t always have access to physicians to get their claims started.
SB329, a bill that would require hospitals and other groups to notify the DHHS of specific mergers in which they have been involved in order to increase transparency, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members asked a variety of clarifying questions to fully understand the intent of the bill, including understand the provisions that would prohibit anti-steering and anti-tiering measures. Those in support of this measure believe that it will greatly benefit Nevadans by allowing them to have a better understanding of what hospitals have more accessible prices. Those in opposition believe that this bill will have negative impacts on coordination of care.
SB391, a bill that would make various changes to allow for teledentistry in Nevada, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members were primarily interested in why the State Dental Health Officer would have a new provision that would not require them to be a licensed practicing dentist. Those in support of this bill believe that it will improve oral health access statewide. Those in opposition are against the SDHO not being required to have a license.
Second Committee Passage: May 14th
Finish Budget Differences: May 15th
Second House Passage: May 21st
Special thanks to the Griffin Company interns:
Morgan Sollano, Emily Espinosa, Graham Griffin, and Julia Kilroy