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

Nevada Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – August 5, 2020

Government Affairs Daily Update

August 5, 2020

Our Government Affairs & Advocacy Team is dedicated to keeping you informed and up to date with political and COVID-19 information in Nevada.

Special Session Coverage

Special Session Day 6 – With only one bill and one resolution still in progress, the Legislature is drawing near a close on the 32nd Special Session. Senate Bill 4, which extends COVID-19 liability protections to most businesses, certain non-profits and  certain government entities in the state, is currently awaiting a hearing in the Assembly after passing the Senate on a 16-5 bipartisan vote. While four Republicans supported the legislation, four joined sole Democratic Senator Marcia Washington in voting against it. An amendment to the bill, introduced and adopted Wednesday morning, removed public and private schools from the liability protections in the bill.  Hospitals and several health care facilities similarly remain excluded from the bill. Additionally, the Senate introduced a resolution Wednesday afternoon declaring systemic racism and structures of racial discriminations during COVID-19 a public health crisis.

SB 4 Amended to Exclude Schools, Passes Senate – The Senate amended and approved Senate Bill 4 Wednesday, which provides limited COVID-19 liability protections against lawsuits brought by plaintiffs claiming to have contracted COVID-19 while visiting a business, government building, or non-profit event. The liability protections extend to entities that are in “substantial compliance” with mandatory controlling health standards issued by the federal, state and local government. Substantial compliance is defined in the bill as “good faith” efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, allowing lawsuits to still be brought against bad actors.

An amendment to the bill presented Wednesday morning removed public and private schools from the bill, appeasing teachers unions concerned that limited liability would result in unsafe working conditions. The amendment was adopted on a 12-9 vote, with Democratic Senator Marcia Washington voting with all eight Republicans. Hospitals and health care facilities remain excluded from the bill despite continued concern from lawmakers and representatives of the industry. The legislation also codifies stricter safety standards for hotels and casinos by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt sanitation requirements and local health districts in Clark County and Washoe County to perform regular inspections. The bill additionally implements worker protections for hospitality employees. Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick voiced concerns over the unfunded mandate for health districts to enforce health protocols as the bill only appropriates funding through the end of the calendar year. The amended version of the bill was passed on a 16-5 bipartisan vote on the Senate floor. Senate Bill 4 is the only remaining piece of legislation in progress, making it likely that the Legislature will adjourn sine die following the Assembly’s hearing and subsequent vote on the bill.

Trump Files Lawsuit Against Nevada Election Bill – President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, along with the Nevada Republican Party and the Republican National Committee (RNC), filed a lawsuit against Republican Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske challenging Nevada’s move to conduct a mostly mail-in 2020 general election. The lawsuit was prompted by Assembly Bill 4, passed this special session, which expands access to mail-in voting ahead of the November general election. Assembly Bill 4 mandates mail-in ballots be sent to all registered and active voters in the state during a state of emergency and maintains a set number of in-person polling locations per county. The legislation drew criticism from President Trump’s campaign and Republican officials in the state over the last week.  The criticism was primarily focused on a provision in the bill that allows “ballot harvesting.” This provision allowing a voter to authorize any person to submit their ballot, an action which prior to AB 4 was unlawful. The lawsuit indicates that fraud is “inevitable” should Nevada move forward with its plan and further claims AB4 unconstitutionally extends the deadline for Election Day by allowing ballots with unclear postmark dates to be accepted up to three days after Election Day. Secretary Cegavske previously indicated a desire to return to predominately in-person voting during the general election. In a news conference Wednesday, President Trump expressed disapproval of Nevada’s mail-in approach this November saying mail-in voting “can’t work.” As recently as Tuesday – the same day the lawsuit was filed – President Trump praised both Arizona and Florida’s vote-by-mail systems as secure and trustworthy.  Both states have Republican governors. Governor Sisolak signed the legislation into law Monday afternoon and the governor has publicly defended the measure saying it will keep voters safe but adds more in-person polling places to avoid long lines that occurred during the June primary.

Senate Passes Resolution Recognizing Systemic Racism During COVID-19 – The Senate introduced and passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 (SCR 1) late Wednesday afternoon recognizing widespread racial disparities amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a public health crisis. Under SCR 1, the Legislature is requesting federal funding be distributed equitably based on the percentages of members of the BIPOC communities to address issues that disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and other people of color. The resolution additionally pledges support to federal, state and local initiatives to address and dismantle systemic racism in the delivery of social services, economic development and public safety. Several senators on both sides of the aisle gave passionate speeches requesting support of the resolution as an important step toward addressing systemic racism. The resolution calls for the subjects of systemic racism and structures of racial discrimination to be incorporated into the regular business of the legislature during the 2021 legislative session next February. The resolution passed on a voice vote.

Status of Legislation (As of 5:00 p.m. August 5) –

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.

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. Passed the Assembly 38-4.

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. Passed the Assembly 25-17.

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. Passed the Assembly 41-0.

In-Progress:

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.

Additional News

Washoe County Commission Approves Incline Village Property Tax Refund – Washoe County Commissioners approved a settlement agreement requiring the county to pay over $56 million in property tax refunds to residential property owners in Incline Village and Crystal Bay . The settlement agreement, between Washoe County and the Village League to Save Incline Assets, Inc., is a culmination of a 17-year legal battle over the constitutionality of the valuation methodology used by the Washoe County Assessor from 2003-2006. According to Washoe County, the settlement will result in a $23-million hit to the county and a $19-million hit to Washoe County School District amid unprecedented shortfalls in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Refund payments to residents are scheduled to begin July 1, 2021 and end by June 21, 2024. The Washoe County Commission is expected to hear a report from fiscal staff in the coming weeks regarding the financial impact of the settlement agreement on the county.

COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada

New Cases: 568

Total Cases: 52,828

Total Recoveries: 43,022 (+981)

Total Fatalities: 890 (+27)


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