Understanding and responding to the business and legal impacts of COVID-19

Nevada Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – August 3, 2020

Government Affairs Daily Update

Our Government Affairs & Advocacy Team is dedicated to keeping you informed and up to date with political and COVID-19 information in Nevada. We will provide daily updates, with additional resources available on our website.

Special Session Coverage

Special Session Day 4– Lawmakers met for the fourth day of the 32nd Special Session on Monday after a full weekend of lengthy bill hearings. The Senate introduced and heard a bill Sunday night relating to unemployment insurance, which garnered hours of emotional testimony and a unanimous vote out of committee. The bill is expected to have a vote on the floor in the coming days. Additionally, a long-awaited bill with language pertaining to limited liability coverage for businesses, nonprofits and schools was introduced Monday night. During a press conference, Governor Sisolak indicated limiting liability for Nevada employers was a priority. He emphasized this liability shield only exists for businesses following proper safety protocols, while stressing he “needs to protect Nevada jobs” and “do everything to make sure those jobs are available.” With four bills and three resolutions passed by the legislature, four pieces of legislation remain in-progress.

Governor Lays Out Long-Term Plan for COVID-19 – Governor Steve Sisolakaddressed Nevadans on Monday night announcing the details for a long-term COVID-19 mitigation strategy for Nevada. In the “state-managed and locally-executed” plan, the state will review a set of three criteria in each county every Thursday to determine regions with high levels of risk. The three criteria, previously recognized in the state’s response strategy, are testing capacity, case trends and positivity rates. Areas deemed high-risk will enter an assessment process with the state’s COVID-19 Response Task Force, led by Director Caleb Cage. The assessment and reviewphase may lead to a targeted mitigation approach that will prioritize data-driven policy. The targeted approach may include further restrictions such as increased enforcement of guidelines, decreased gathering sizes, and decreased fire code capacity. At the state level, a set of six metrics, such as hospitalization rates, outbreaks and personal protective equipment availability, for example, are reviewed daily. The Governor noted this data-driven plan as more sustainable to allow the COVID-19 Response Task Force to assess counties individually, breaking from the one-size-fits-all approach. At the press conference, the Governor stated bar and pub closures at Nevada’s four largest counties – Clark, Washoe, Elko and Nye – would remain in place.

Governor Signs First 3 Bills, Including Election Bill – Governor Sisolak signed the first three bills of the 32nd Special Session, which includes Assembly Bills 1, 2 and 4. Assembly Bill 1 makes technical corrections to several laws passed in the 2019 legislative session, including laws immediately restoring voting rights for individuals on parole and probation. Assembly Bill 2 authorizes remote voting for lawmakers during the pandemic and provides lawmakers guidance on proposing constitutional amendments during a special session. Both bills passed through the legislature with bipartisan support. AB 4, the third bill signed, expands access to mail-in ballots for Nevadans and passed the through the Legislature on party-line votes in both houses after Republican lawmakers expressed concern over the safety of a mail-in election. The bill also garnered national attention after President Donald Trump expressed disapproval for the policy and threatened a lawsuit against the state in a tweet. The Governor released a statement upon his signing of AB 4 that regarded the bill as an important step toward conducting safe and secure election in November.

Unemployment Insurance Bill Introduced and Heard– The Senate introduced and heard for Senate Bill 3 Sunday night, which aims to remedy various roadblocks in the state’s unemployment insurance system. With over 1-million initial applicants for unemployment insurance this year, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) has struggled to handle high call volume, deliver on-time payments to eligible applicants and deal with reports of fraudulent claims. The bill seeks to expand Nevadans’ access to unemployment insurance after the $600 federal bonus program ended July 31. The provisions would allow people to work more hours before they are considered ineligible for benefits, bringing in up to 20,000 Nevada residents, and allows Nevada to utilize an additional seven weeks of federally funded payments. The bill also gives DETR more flexibility on creating emergency regulations and grants the agency the authority to define “good cause” for individuals turning down a job and still receiving benefits, which includes being unable to find childcare. During the hearing, DETR made clear the need to modernize Nevada’s unemployment insurance system, estimating a 24-36 month timeline to do so. The bill was voted out of committee unanimously after hours of emotional testimony from Nevadans waiting to receive benefits. A floor vote for SB 3 is expected soon as several lawmakers regarded it as one of the most critical bills of the special session.

SB 1 Heard in Assembly – The bill proposing to stay evictions in the state for no more than 30 days and authorize an alternative dispute resolution program was heard in the Assembly on Sunday after passing through the Senate on a vote of 18-3 Sunday. The provisions of the bill apply broadly to tenant living in any dwelling unit, apartment, mobile home, recreational vehicle public housing authority low-rent program. The bill is intended to ease the strain on courts once Governor Sisolak’s eviction moratorium for non-payment of rent is lifted at midnight on August 31. Recommended guidelines, or rules, will be provided by the Nevada Supreme Court, then district and justice courts may adopt rules and opt into the program.

Status of Legislation (As of 5:30 p.m. August 3) –

Signed by Governor Sisolak:

AB 1 (Technical Changes) – Assembly Bill 1 corrects several technical errors in law relating to voting rights for those on probation and parole, as well as clarifying language relating to evictions.

Status: Passed in the Assembly 31-10. Passed in the Senate 18-3.

 

AB 2 (Remote Participation and Constitutional Changes) – Assembly Bill 2 codifies remote participation for legislators during the COVID-19 pandemic, creates the Office of General Counsel in the Legislative Counsel Bureau and provides authorization and guidance on the process of amending the Constitution during a special session.

Status: Passed 40-1 in the Assembly. Passed 15-6 in the Senate.

 

AB 3 (Police Reform) – Assembly Bill 3 presents a number of reform policies for law enforcement agencies, which includes banning the use of chokeholds, creating a “duty to intervene,” requiring a drug test for those in an officer-involved shooting and allowing the recording of law enforcement if it does not obstruct proceedings.

Status: Passed in the Assembly 38-4. Passed in the Senate 19-2.

 

AB 4 (Election Reform) – Assembly Bill 4 provides for an expansion of mail-in voting during a state of emergency, mandates the minimum number of in-person voting locations in each county and appropriates $3-million in state funds to conduct the November general election.

Status: Passed in the Assembly 29-12. Passed in the Senate 13-8.

 

Passed the Legislature:

SJR 1 (Mining Tax) – Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR1) proposes to implement a 7.75-percent tax on gross proceeds of minerals, provides 50-percent of the proceeds toward payments to Nevada residents and removes the requirement for a two-thirds majority to pass a tax increase.

Status: Passed in the Senate 13-8. Passed in the Assembly 25-17. Does not need to be signed by the Governor.

 

AJR 1 (Mining Tax) – Similar to SJR1,Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR1) proposes to implement a 7.75-percent tax on gross proceeds of minerals but allocates 25-percent of proceeds to education, health care and economic assistance for state residents.

Status: Passed in the Assembly 29-13. Passed in the Senate 13-8. Does not need to be signed by the Governor.

 

AJR 2 (Mining Tax) – Assembly Joint Resolution 2 (AJR2) proposes to raise the cap for net proceeds on minerals tax from 5-percent to 12-percent.

Status: Passed in the Assembly 29-13. Passed in the Senate 14-7. Does not need to be signed by the Governor.

 

In-Progress:

SB 1 (Eviction Dispute) – Senate Bill 1 authorizes the stay of eviction proceedings for up to 30 days to allow for alternative dispute resolution and applies to tenants in both private and public rental agreements.

Status: Passed in the Senate 18-3.

 

SB 2 – (Peace Officers) – Senate Bill 2, introduced Saturday, proposes changes to Senate Bill 242 that passed unanimously during the 2019 legislative session. The bill aims to provide accountability and transparency for both officers and residents by requiring investigations to occur within a reasonable amount of time and allows an investigation to be reopened without the discovery of new evidence.

Status: Heard in the Senate and awaiting a vote.

 

SB 3 – (Unemployment Insurance) – Senate Bill 3 aims to expand access to unemployment insurance for Nevadans by expanding DETR authority to deem reasons for not working as “good causes” and accessing seven weeks of additional federal aid for regular unemployment applicants.

Status: Heard in the Senate and awaiting a vote.

 

COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada

New Cases: 970

Total Cases: 51,227

Total Recoveries: 40,737 (+572)

Total Fatalities: 847 (+14)


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