Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – June 26, 2020

Government Affairs Daily Update

June 26, 2020

Our Government Affairs & Advocacy Team is dedicated to keeping you informed as we continue facing the novel coronavirus. We will provide daily updates, with additional resources available on our website.

Additionally, we will keep you informed of Nevada primary election results and updates as they become available on our website and through additional e-mail correspondence. Please stay tuned for further information as it becomes available.

State and Local COVID-19 Developments

Final Budget Approved for Fiscal Year 2020 – Nevada lawmakers approved an $88.5-million spending cut package Thursday in order to finish balancing the budget for fiscal year 2020. The 20 members that make up the Interim Finance Committee (IFC), which oversees spending between legislative sessions, voted unanimously to approve the budget cuts including $21.5-million in reversed one-time appropriations and another $66.9-million from state agencies and departments. In addition to the cuts made Thursday, lawmakers previously swept the entire state’s Rainy Day Fund, used CARES Act federal reimbursement funding, and a variety of other methods to help plug the massive budget hole. While the cuts approved Thursday finalize the FY 2020 budget, lawmakers will face another uphill battle to find the money to make up for the FY 2021 deficit, anticipated to cost more than $1.27-billion, or 25-percent of the state’s yearly operating budget.

Supermajority Tax Increase Case Moves Forward – The Nevada Constitution has a clause requiring a supermajority vote on any bill to raise revenues. In 2019, two bills that canceled a scheduled decrease in a tax and a fee were passed by the Legislature on a simple majority vote after the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) opined that canceling tax rate sunsets or eliminating tax exemptions could be accomplished with a simple majority vote. Eight Republican Senators and several business organizations filed suit and named various defendants, including the Senate Majority Leader and the Secretary of the Senate. The LCB appeared in the case to defend the Senate Majority Leader and Senate Secretary. The Republican Senators moved to disqualify the LCB as attorneys on the grounds that the LCB had a conflict of interest.

The district court agreed and disqualified the LCB from appearing as counsel in the case. In a 5-2 decision, the Nevada Supreme Court came to a different conclusion and held that the LCB could represent the Senate Majority Leader and Secretary of Senate. With the procedural question of representation resolved, the case will now proceed on the merits before the district court. The outcome of the case carries significant ramifications as the Governor and the Legislature face a $1.27-billion budget deficit on a $4.25-billion budget for the next fiscal year. With tax increases appearing increasingly likely and with Senate Republicans narrowly able to block a supermajority vote, the outcome of the case will have an impact on the type of revenue raising actions the Legislature can pursue in the face of Republican opposition.

OSHA Releases New Business Guidelines – Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidelines Friday with recommendations and requirements for businesses operating during Nevada’s Phase 2, after Governor Steve Sisolak released Declaration 024 earlier this week mandating facial coverings. Some of the OSHA recommendations and requirements for all businesses operating during Phase 2 include:

  • All employers must provide face coverings for employees assigned to serving the public and shall require these employees to wear the face coverings – Required
  • All employers should require employees to wear a face covering in any space visited by the general public, even if no one else is present – Recommended
  • All employers must require employees to wear a face covering in any space where food is prepared or packaged, for sale, or generally distributed – Required
  • All businesses are required to mandate the use of face coverings by patrons, customers, patients, or clients and will notify/inform all patrons, customers, patients, and clients of the requirement prior to their entry into the establishment, with the exceptions delineated in Section 7 of Declaration 024 – Required
  • Face coverings must be used in public spaces incorporated in or controlled by a business – Required
  • Close or limit access to common areas where employees are likely to congregate or interact, and when in common areas required face coverings for employees – Required
  • Promote frequent and thorough hand washing – Required
  • Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and equipment, and provide sanitation and cleaning supplies to address those services – Required
  • Conduct daily surveys of changes to staff/labor health conditions – Required
  • Ensure that any identified first responders in the labor force are provided and use the needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Required
  • Provide access to potable and sanitary water – Required

CCSD Presents Reopening Plans for the Fall Semester – In a meeting Thursday, the Clark County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees heard a presentation from Superintendent Jesus Jara on the district’s plan to reopen staggered in-person learning for the Fall 2020 semester. The plan, which was leaked earlier this week, has students in class two days a week and distance learning the other three days with an additional option to choose a full-time virtual classroom setting. The proposed schedule warranted questions from both trustees and parents regarding childcare during virtual days. While a formal plan to address childcare doesn’t exist, the district intends to accommodate family requests, such as grouping siblings on the same schedule and adapting to parent work schedules. An additional concern for the district is how it will fund the 2020-2021 school year amidst extended distance learning, an issue that will be addressed during a special legislative session planned for early July. The current plan has classes resuming on August 24, however delays in budgetary planning or failure to adopt the proposed policies could result in a delay in the start date. Trustees are tasked with submitting suggested changes to the proposed plan prior to the board’s scheduled vote on July 9.

COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada

These numbers are accurate as of 4:00 p.m. Friday, June 26

  • There are 15,247 positive cases in Nevada
    • This number is up 331 cases from Thursday
  • Nevada has reported 498 fatalities from the coronavirus
    • This number is up three (3) cases from Thursday
  • 297,635 individuals have been tested for the virus
    • This number is up 3,781 cases from Thursday
  • Further statistical data can be found here: DHHS Coronavirus Statistics in Nevada

National COVID-19 Developments

Texas and Florida Close Bars After Uptick in COVID-19 Cases – The governors of Florida and Texas ordered bars to close Friday morning after the two states reported accelerated increases in coronavirus cases. Florida reported 8,942 new cases Friday morning, shattering the previous daily new case record of 5,508. The state has reported over 32,000 new cases within the last seven-day period, bringing the state’s rolling total to over 123,000. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott put a hold on the state’s plans to reopen earlier in the week, as the state’s positivity rate rose close to 10-percent and Houston’s ICU bed capacity hit 100-percent. The state’s cases have spiked over 145-percent in the past two weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevented reported Wednesday the U.S. saw record numbers of new coronavirus cases, with nearly 50,000 reported in one day. The continued uptick in positivity rate has caused several states to rollback reopening measures and hit pause on their transitions to additional phases.

Fauci Considers Pool Testing for COVID-19 – The White house coronavirus task force held a press conference Friday morning, providing an update on national numbers and testing capacity as the United States continues to report substantial increases in positive daily cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci said during the press conference the task force is “seriously considering” pool testing for COVID-19, acknowledging the ineffectiveness of the current testing strategy. Pool testing works by mixing several samples together in one batch and testing with a single diagnostic test. If the batch results come back negative, it allows multiple people to be eliminated with a single test. If a batch results come back positive, it would then require each person to be tested individually. The suggested strategy comes from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after they asked companies earlier this month to research tests that would allow for mass screening. In Wuhan, China, over 9-million people were tested using just over 6-million tests, vastly expanding the region’s capacity. Dr. Deborah Birk and Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged the system’s potential effectiveness in allowing people to return to school and workplaces by allowing more frequent and widespread testing.

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