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

Nevada Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – August 4, 2020

Government Affairs Daily Update

Special Session Coverage

Special Session Day 5 – With only three pieces of legislation still in progress, including the highly anticipated Senate Bill 4, giving liability protection for businesses and government entities, lawmakers reconvened for the fifth day of the special session in Carson City. Senators heard the liability measure until close to 3:00 a.m. Tuesday morning but have yet to vote on the measure. The other two remaining bills, Senate Bills 2 and 3, passed out of the Senate and await passage in the Assembly. Notably, all policy items identified in Governor Sisolak’s proclamation calling the special session have been addressed in legislation, making it unlikely that any additional bills will be introduced.

Limited Liability Legislation (SB 4) Hearing – The Senate introduced a long-awaited bill Monday night with language providing limited COVID-19 liability protections against lawsuits brought by plaintiffs claiming to have contracted COVID-19 while visiting a business, government building (including schools) or non-profit event. Notably, most health facilities and hospitals were excluded from the bill, which sparked pointed questions from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle At the hearing, the Governor’s Office was unable to provide a specific reason that healthcare entities were excluded, stating the exclusion was negotiated among the parties that drafted the bill, which did not include the healthcare industry. The healthcare industry is continuing efforts to be included in the bill prior to final passage.

To take advantage of the enhanced liability protections in the bill, an entity must be in “substantial compliance” with mandatory controlling health standards issued by the federal, state or local government. The bill defines substantial compliance as “good faith” efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. The liability protection section of the bill is set to expire when Governor Sisolak lifts the state of emergency, or by July 2023, whichever occurs later.

The legislation will also implement stricter sanitation requirements for casinos and hotels and provide certain protections for hospitality workers. Requirements relating to cleaning standards will be adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services and be subject to regular inspections by state and local health officials. Hospitality employees will be provided paid time off while awaiting results of a COVID-19 test and a subsequent 14 days off, ten of which are paid, for any who test positive. The bill does not extend similar protections to workers in other industries, including teachers, warranting substantial opposition from teachers’ unions during the hearing. The bill received support testimony from multiple businesses, casinos and organizations, including the Nevada Resorts Association and MGM Resorts. The exclusion of hospitals and medical facilities was a contentious topic during the hearing and brought out representatives of the industries to argue that without liability protection, hospitals would be forced to limit visitors, medical students and vendors. It would additionally restrict hospitals’ ability to discharge patients to long-term care facilities, greatly impacting overall capacity. The Governor’s Office said hospitals are currently afforded liability protections under Emergency Directive 011, and therefore did not need to be included in the bill. However, Legislative Counsel noted during the hearing that Directive 011 applies to medical malpractice cases but not to premises liability cases brought by visitors such as the type of cases covered by SB 4. The bill passed out of committee on a bipartisan vote but has yet to have a floor vote.

Unemployment Insurance Bill Deemed Emergency Measure – The Senate introduced and heard SB 3 Sunday night, which aims to expand Nevadans’ access to unemployment insurance during the pandemic by remedying various roadblocks in the state’s system. An amendment introduced and adopted Monday night makes several provisions of the bill retroactive and others contingent on sign-off from the Department of Labor. Senator Scott Hammond made a motion declaring the bill an emergency measure, allowing it to move on an expedited timeline. The Senate voted on the bill Monday night, passing it unanimously. The bill is being heard in the Assembly at the time of this update.

Police Officer Reform Bill Heard in Assembly – The Assembly heard SB 2 Tuesday morning, which proposes to reverse several provisions of SB 242, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Cannizzaro, from the 2019 legislative session, which provided protections for police officers accused of misconduct. SB 2 eliminates prohibitions on using a police officer’s compelled statement in a civil case without their consent, requires investigations to occur within a reasonable amount of time and authorizes law enforcement agencies to reopen investigations without new material evidence. Majority Leader Cannizzaro presented the bill and emphasized the legislature’s appreciation for the work of law enforcement and first responders. The bill passed out of the Senate on Monday on a party-line vote after substantial opposition testimony from law enforcement agencies and law enforcement associations in the state.

Democratic Legislators Defend Election Bill on National News Networks – Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Senator Pat Spearman, both Democrats, appeared on national news networks Monday defending the state’s passage of Assembly Bill 4. AB 4 will broaden access to mail-in ballots for the upcoming November general election and has garnered substantial criticism from Nevada Republican lawmakers and President Trump. President Trump took to Twitter when the bill was first introduced, threatening a lawsuit and claiming the legislation was unlawfully passed overnight without public participation. His comments were also reiterated during a White House press conference Monday. Majority Leader Cannizzaro appeared on MSNBC and CNN Monday to defend the bill and emphasize the state’s intent to conduct a safe and secure election. In addition to sending out mail-in ballots for all registered and active voters in the state, there will be at least 35 early voting locations and 150 in-person polling locations on Election Day in Clark County, alone. The bill’s intent is to provide Nevadans with an alternative to in-person voting while maintaining signature verification requirements and election security protocol. Governor Sisolak signed AB 4 into law Monday afternoon.

Status of Legislation (As of 4:45 p.m. August 4) –

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. Will be considered a second time during the next legislative session and if approved, will appear on the general election ballot in November 2022.

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. Will be considered a second time during the next, legislative session and if approved, will appear on the general election ballot in November 2022.

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. Will be considered a second time during the next, legislative session and if approved, will appear on the general election ballot in November 2022.

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: Passed in the Senate 13-8.

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: Passed in the Senate 21-0.

SB 4 – (Limited Liability) – Senate Bill 4 extends limited COVID-19 liability coverage for businesses and government entities, including nonprofits and schools. It also implements stricter health standards for hotels and casinos at the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Status: Heard in the Senate and awaiting a vote.

COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada

New Cases: 941

Total Cases: 52,181

Total Recoveries: 41,921 (+1,124)

Total Fatalities: 862 (+15)


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