This week, the Economic Forum’s Technical Advisory Committee met and found that the legislature will likely have at least $80.4 million more in tax revenue to spend over the upcoming budget cycle than originally anticipated. The TAC does projections on the “minor” revenue sources, while the Economic Forum, which will be meeting on Tuesday, projects the major sources: sales and use tax, percentage fee tax on gaming revenues, insurance premium tax, modified business tax, cigarette tax, live entertainment tax and real property transfer tax.
Bill Hearing Highlights
AB6, a housekeeping bill that would determine whether or not a hearing must be held in relation to protests on temporary change applications for appropriated waters, was heard by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. Committee members asked questions about what the current practice was for determining whether a hearing should be held, and also expressed that they believe that the timeline could be too short.
AB51, a bill that would clarify the definition of a “single-family residence” as defined in NRS relating to the Recovery Fund, was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members were primarily interested in how this bill would impact modular or mobile homes that have been built on a foundation. Those in support of this measure believe that it will clarify policy relating to who is eligible for these funds.
AB59, a bill that would prohibit the sale and distribution of tobacco products to a person under the age of 21, was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary. There was an unfriendly amendment submitted to the Committee from the Health Districts that would remove the warning period for retailers in paying a fine, but it is not approved of by the sponsors. Committee members did not have questions but were concerned with this fine. Those in support of this measure believe that it will adequately lower the use and accessibility of tobacco products to underage people. Those in opposition believe that this bill is not strong enough as written and urged the committee to take an approach that would focus more on help for the youth than on retailer punishment.
AB66 aims to tighten up the tax abatement program by requiring businesses that accept an abatement package to enter into an agreement with the state within a year of the application being approved. The Director of GOED, Michael Brown, hopes this will reduce the amount of “forum shopping” that businesses do when they receive a deal then continue to shop around different states for a better one. Legislators discussed an amendment from the Department of Taxation that would add a penalty on a business who is not using their tax exemption certificate on purchases. The Nevada State Pipe Building Trades testified in opposition asking that AB109 provisions from last session be applied to companies that were receiving tax abatements.
AB149, a bill that aims to increase transparency in the cannabis industry by providing lab results on products to the public, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. The fiscal note being discussed would be focused on updating the dashboard to access this data. Committee members asked clarifying questions on the lab results that would be posted. Those in support of this measure believe it is vital to provide this information for the safety of consumers.
AB158, a bill that would revise penalties relating to the purchase and possession of alcohol and cannabis by youth, was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary. Committee members were interested in whether this bill would impact diversion programs that are currently being used in Clark County and whether this would impact a law enforcement officer’s ability to confiscate the product. Those in support of this bill believe that this will lead to a reduction in recidivism for youth who have been charged with this in the past because they will have the opportunity to have these charges taken from their record.
AB167, a bill that would require K-12 and NSHE institutions to print the suicide hotline on newly printed student ID cards, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. The fiscal note being discussed was removed by NSHE. Committee members had no questions on this topic. Those in support of this bill believe that it is a necessary change and they urged the Committee’s support.
AB177, a bill that would require prescription drug labels to have the option of being printed in a language other than English at the request of the patient, was heard by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members were interested in how this would be implemented and what else would be required of pharmacists. Those in support believe that this will save lives by preventing medication misuse. An amendment was submitted that would reinstate Section 1.5. Those in opposition believe that this would discourage people away from learning English and also raise costs of small business.
AB181, a bill that would make a variety of changes to legislation relating to mental health including insurance provider updates and regulation updates, was heard by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members were interested in what the process would be surrounding reporting and whether an additional burden would be placed on providers. Those in support of this legislation are in favor of the proposed conceptual amendment and believe that this legislation being in parity with federal requirement will ensure that mental health crises will be treated the same as other emergencies.
AB231, a bill that would require the Nevada State Board of Education to create a subcommittee that would review class materials on the Holocaust and other genocides to ensure that they are age appropriate, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. The fiscal note attached to the bill is specifically focused on the staff time required by the DOE to implement this legislation. Those in support of this legislation believe that this bill should be funded in order to ensure that the Holocaust and genocides are being taught correctly in our schools.
AB250, a bill that would establish the Birthday Rule in the state of Nevada relating to Medigap plans, was heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members were interested in the proposed amendment from the Nevada Association of Health Plans that would remove innovative benefits, which are benefits that are not included in the core required benefits of the Birthday Rule. Those in support of this bill believe that it will give consumers the opportunity to choose what insurance plan works best for them.
AB356, a bill that would prohibit the waters from the Colorado River to not be used on any property that is not zoned exclusively for single-family residences, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. The fiscal note can be removed with the amended language that has been adopted. Committee members were interested in whether this would impact consumers by raising rates. Those in support of this measure believe that it will save billions of gallons of water from the Colorado River and ensure that our state is not being wasteful.
AB363 is a bipartisan effort to start regulating the short- term rental industry by setting up tax and operating requirements for counties with populations over 700,000. The bill was presented with an amendment that places the population cap in the bill, sets up distance requirements of 500ft between residential rentals and a minimum of 2500 ft from a resort’s property line, and a minimum 2 -night stay. In order to combat companies buying up homes in the area for a “distributed hotel model” the amendment also limits one entity to holding 5 permits for short term rentals. Opposition was okay with paying a room tax rate similar to resorts but opposed the distance requirements and the minimum 2 -night stay.
AB413 is built off the back of SCR 3 from the 2019 session and aims to keep the conversation around sustainable and equitable highway infrastructure and funding alive in this next biennium. More consumers opting for electric vehicles, combined with reduced driving during the height of the pandemic has caused a shortage in fuel tax revenue leading to conversations about how to adjust the highway fund with reduced gas taxes. The advisory committee established by this bill will also study the needs of all users of different modes of transportation like bikes, pedestrians, and public transit users. The committee itself will be made up of 20-30 people from all geographic areas, ethnic groups and related industries.
AJR3, a resolution that would urge Congress to take action to help Nevada in reaching 30% protection of land and waters in the state by 2030 in response to the 30-By-30 initiative created by the Biden Administration, was heard by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. Committee members expressed their concern with the measure being based on flawed premises, and also asked where Nevada currently stood in relation to achieving these goals. Those in support of this measure believe that this resolution will lead to the protection and conservation of more lands as well as create jobs to help Nevada’s economy. Those in opposition believe that this bill is too overpowering and limits citizen’s Constitutional right to property owning.
SB6, a bill that would revise legislation governing high-risk behavior applications passed last session to have clearer language in an effort to reduce confusion, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. Committee members were interested in what the current confusion was that people were having in relation to the application process and what the purpose behind issuing an emergency order would be. Those in opposition to this bill believe that it will cause false accusations and lead to less transparency in the court system for the individual being accused.
SB122, a bill that would require employees and supervisors of cannabis establishments to complete an OSHA training course, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members were interested in why this bill was being introduced and asked about the specific dangers that could be faced in the industry. Those in support of this bill believe that OSHA courses provide beneficial training that could greatly support employees in the cannabis industry.
SB66 was heard in the Assembly Education committee this week. The bill focuses on discovering and improving on student’s access to the internet and compatible devices in order to facilitate distance learning. $7.17B has been allocated from the American Rescue Plan to schools and libraries to connect low- income students, bill sponsors say this can help make sure those dollars are implemented efficiently. In the city of Las Vegas they are rolling out a pilot program that would add network devices to already existing city infrastructure that would allow students nearby to connect to the school network and allow for monitoring of network traffic to ensure sufficient speeds.
SB82 is in the running for one of the simplest bills this session. The bill updates the Charter of the City of Sparks to reflect best practices for ward only voting. The current practice in NRS 293c is to automatically declare a winner if only one candidate has filed for a seat and remove that position from the ballot. If two candidates file, both will be featured on the ballot. If there are 3 or more candidates a primary election will be held, and the top two candidates will be featured on the ballot.
SB109 was heard this week in Assembly Government Affairs. The bill requires state agencies to ask about a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity in order to get more data on those that are part of the LGBTQ community. There is an option to opt out of providing this information and services cannot be denied to you by not responding. Ideally this data can be collected to make sure the legislature is making policy that is informed and actually benefits the communities it aims to help.
SB209, a bill that would allow employees with an additional 4 hours of paid leave to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members noticed that this bill states there will be a study conducted and asked if there would be additional funding required for this, and Senator Donate said there wouldn’t be. Those in support of this measure believe that it is vital that this legislation is passed in order to get people back to work. Those in opposition believe that it could overburden small businesses.
SB237 is designed to give businesses owned by LGBTQ community members the same access to resources other disadvantaged business owners get. An amendment was submitted by NDOT to make sure that these proactive state laws lineup with federal legislation who does not recognize the LGBTQ community yet. Senator Harris noted that during her research she discovered this would be the first place in the NRS to actually define LGBTQ.
SB293, a bill that would prohibit employers from asking applicants about their previous salary during the application process in an effort to eliminate discrimination in pay, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members asked about various scenarios in which the information was voluntarily provided by the applicant without being asked about it, and Senator Cannizzaro said she will work with stakeholders to ensure a solution to those situations. Those in support of this bill believe that it will eliminate the gender-based wage gap in our state.
SB309, a bill that would create a reinvestment advisory committee in Clark County in an effort to address and better define homelessness, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members were particularly interested in how this would impact Medicare and whether it was possible to expand or include other counties if they want to participate. Those in support of this measure believe that this bill will continue to allow for the City of Las Vegas to work directly with their constituents.
SB327, a bill that would expand anti-discrimination statutes to include discrimination against an individual’s natural hair, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor. Committee members expressed their support for the measure and did not ask questions. Those in support of this bill believe that it is vital that we enact this legislation in order to prevent racial discrimination in our state. Those in opposition have reservations with sections 7 and 8, despite being amended after being heard in the Senate.
SB396, a bill that would allow public entities, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, to enter into interstate agreements in an effort to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, was heard by the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services. Committee members voiced their concern for the auditing exemption being proposed in this legislation stating that they believe it will significantly reduce the intended goal of transparency by not allowing audits. Those in support of this measure believe that Nevadans should have access to affordable health care and urged the Committee’s support.
Economic Forum Report Due- May 4th
Second House Committee Passage- May 14th
Special thanks to the Griffin Company interns:
Morgan Sollano, Emily Espinosa, Graham Griffin, and Julia Kilroy