This week in the Nevada Legislature, most committees were cancelled and the focus was on floor sessions as the first house passage deadline approaches (April 20th). In the past five days, almost 160 bills and resolutions received floor votes in their house of origin. This week we also saw the (very limited) opening of the Legislative Building. A few committees actually met in committee rooms instead of strictly on Zoom, and a few people were able to present bills and testify in person.
Bill Hearing Highlights
AB53, a bill that would allow for the removal of highway call boxes along I-15 between Las Vegas and California, was heard by the Senate Committee on Growth and Infrastructure. Committee members stated that they would like to have the call boxes remain in certain areas and were told that this bill is intended to specifically look at I-15 where good cell coverage currently exists. A motion was made to Do-Pass on the legislation and passed unanimously.
AB77 made its way to the Senate this week. The bill codifies the efforts the Department of Veteran Services are doing to address suicide and homelessness in the veteran community. It also standardizes their commission appointment term lengths to 3 years. There has been a great effort on DVS’s part to expand past the VA, cemeteries, and assisting with benefits. The term limits allow for members to complete projects and develop expertise and adding these efforts to NRS reflect their work.
AB91, a bill that would revise existing practice to require an licensed APRN have a seat on the Nevada State Board of Nursing, was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members expressed their admiration for the Board of Nursing’s ability to continuously recruit and issue licenses and voiced their desire for the Board to place an additional emphasis on recruiting in underrepresented communities. Those in support of this bill believe that this will codify existing practice and ensure that APRNs have a voice on the Board.
AB452, a bill that would strengthen reporting requirements regarding GHG emissions by requiring more agencies to submit records of their GHG emissions, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. Committee members were interested in the fiscal note that this presented, and asked about how this money would impact the Petroleum Fund. Those in support of this bill believe that having more data from agencies on GHG emissions will help the state towards their 2050 goal of zero-GHG emissions.
SB25, a bill that would repeal language that is outdated regarding taxation for food that is prepared for immediate consumption, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Revenue. Committee members mentioned that they felt that there were some gray areas in this legislation that need to be resolved, specifically regarding the definition of food that is prepared for immediate consumption, and recommended that it be worked on before the work session for this measure. Those in support of this bill believe that this will lead to more consistency and less confusion across retail establishments.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee heard SB42 on Wednesday. The bill moves the responsibility of printing and distributing annual reports back to the Nevada Supreme Court from the Legislative Counsel Bureau and removes medical malpractice training for judges. Legislators asked questions on the removal of the malpractice training, but since it is now a core competency for all district judges the court feels the requirement can be removed. Judges can also receive training from the judicial college located at UNR.
SB45, a bill that would expand the duties of the Office of the Ombudsman in an effort to battle human trafficking, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. Committee members were interested in the counseling services that are being proposed as a method of reducing recidivism. Those in support of this bill believe that it this will provide for greater authority in cases revolving sex trafficking. Those in opposition to this bill are opposed to section 7 that specifically deals with increasing the mandatory time in jail for suspects to 30 days minimum. There was an amendment proposed to the bill that would clarify duties and revise the punishment for battery against a pregnant victim.
The first revision of SB 47 was heard for the first time on the Assembly side in the Government Affairs committee Thursday morning. This bill allows the treasury to request emergency funding from the IFC in the event there is not enough money to cover future obligations. When first introduced the request for funding would have been automatically approved after 15 days if the IFC took no action on it. Through amendment 70 proposed by Senator Kieckhefer, if no action is taken on the request the State Board of Finance will not issue any funds. The request, if granted, will count against the 2% bonding capacity that is found in the Nevada constitution.
SB74, a bill that would amend statute to remove the requirement to use population totals from the Census Bureau for tax distributions and instead use Governor’s recommendations solely, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Revenue. Committee members did not have questions other than clarifying that this would not change the existing CTAX but instead revise a provision. They were informed that this is being viewed as a housekeeping measure. Those who testified in neutral stated that they are still working to ensure that they have a full understanding of the measure with the sponsors of the bill.
SB358, a bill that would revise existing statute relating to wire-taps for law enforcement by expanding the ability to do so without a warrant in emergency situations involving hostages or barricades, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. Committee members mentioned concerns over there being no further accountability process, and asked if the sponsors would be interesting in a process after the fact that would require ratification of the wire-tap. Those in support of this bill believe it will be a vital tool for law enforcement in desperate and tense situations. Those in opposition believe that there needs to be an accountability process, and offered an amendment that would require law enforcement to submit for a warrant after the event.
SCR5 was heard in Senate Health and Human services and adopted after the hearing. The resolution aims to address the disparities BIPOC communities have faced during the COVID-19 crisis. The resolution calls for federal funding to be proportionally allocated to communities that were more severely impacted. In addition to SB302 and SB341 these measures can help the Office of Minority Health and Equity to better complete their goals of health equity in minority populations they serve.