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Nevada Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – July 17, 2020

Government Affairs

Daily Update
July 17, 2020

Our Government Affairs & Advocacy Team is dedicated to keeping you informed throughout the 31st special session of the Nevada Legislature.

Special Session Day 10
Day 10 – Neither the Senate nor Assembly are scheduled to meet Friday after Thursday night hearings for Assembly Bill 4 stretched well into the early hours of Friday morning. The two bodies are scheduled to reconvene Saturday at 10 a.m.

Status of Legislation (As of 2:00 p.m. July 17) –
Passed:
• SB 1– Senate Bill 1 cancelled various capital improvement projects. A list of projects being cut can be found here. Status: Passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously.
• SB 2– Senate Bill 2 authorizes the Nevada Board of Regents to temporarily change eligibility requirements for the Millennium Scholarship. Status: Passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously.
• SB 3– This legislation would mandate advanced payment of net proceeds on mineral taxes, reallocate future funds from the highway fund to the general fund, and implement a tax amnesty program. Status: Passed 19-2 in the Senate and 32-10 in the Assembly.
• SB 4– Senate Bill 4 authorizes the State Board of Finance to take out a temporary line of credit. Status: Passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously.
• AJR 1– The Assembly introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 1 on the floor Tuesday, which urges the President and Congress of the United States to provide flexible funding for state, local and tribal governments to account for anticipated public budget shortfalls as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Status: Passed the unanimously in the Assembly and 20-1 in the Senate.
Failed:
• AB 4– The bill reduced the allowable deductions to the the mining tax. The bill required a supermajority vote in each house because it raised state revenues. Status: Passed the Assembly on a 29-13 party-line vote and failed in the Senate on a 13-8 party-line vote, one vote shy of two-thirds.

In-progress:
• AB 1– This bill provides for certain changes in state worker contracts, requiring one-per-month furloughs and putting a freeze on merit-based pay increases. Status: Heard and awaiting a vote on the Assembly Floor.
• AB 2– This would allow unused dollars from individual schools to be redistributed to the Clark County School District. AB 2 has been the source of friction between the Legislature, the Clark County School District and the Governor: Status: On hold on the chief clerk’s desk in the Assembly and not expected to move.
• AB 3– The bill provides a look at the state’s proposed department budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2021. Status: Heard and awaiting a vote on the Assembly Floor.

AB 4 Passes Assembly, Fails by One Vote in Senate– Assembly Bill 4 was introduced on the Assembly Floor Thursday evening by Democratic Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton in an attempt to alleviate the state’s $1.2-billion budget shortfall. After prolonged, partisan discussion that went through 3 a.m., the bill passed in the Assembly on a party-line vote (constituting a two-thirds majority) but fell one vote short in the Senate, again on a party-line vote. The net proceeds of minerals tax allows mining operations to take various deductions from gross yield to determine the net proceeds. The bill would have capped deductions at 60% of the otherwise allowable deduction. Along with the already passed prepayment of the net proceeds of minerals tax, AB 4 would have generated $102-million in additional general fund revenue for this fiscal year. The proposal garnered unanimous support from democratic legislators, as well as from Governor Steve Sisolak, who released a statement prior to the bill’s language being released that said he intended to sign the legislation if it passed. Republican lawmakers, however, criticized the bill’s speedy introduction and hearing, saying there was little time to thoroughly read the bill and consult the mining industry, and particularly to evaluate the impact of the legislation on small mining operators. The votes on AB 4 will almost certainly become campaign issues this November, particularly in swing districts.

Republicans and Democrats Release Separate Plans for Budget Shortfall – Both Democrat and Republican leadership released individual plans for restoring revenue to the state’s budget Thursday night. Senate Republicans unveiled a document outlining a plan to restore approximately $160-million in cuts outlined in the Governor’s proposed plan. The plan draws from unrestricted Medicaid reserves, employment security reserves and federal government funding projections to restore nearly $115-million to health care cuts and $43-million to education. Senate Democrats released a similar proposal that would reinstate $127-million, however their plan minimizes state worker furloughs authorized by Assembly Bill 1 in lieu of funds cut from education. After the failed attempt to pass mining tax deductions, provisions of these budget proposals are a likely next step for lawmakers to address the budget shortfall.

COVID-19 Status Report

Nevada COVID-19 Numbers – Nevada’s seven-day positivity rate hit another all-time high Friday, with nearly 85-percent of cases located in Clark County and 12-percent in Washoe County. The daily positivity rate is at 25.8-percent, while the seven-day moving average is at 18.8-percent, the highest since the pandemic began. The seven-day positivity rate seemed to be declining June 30 when it dropped to 16.8-percent but began trending upward again after the Fourth of July holiday. Throughout the state, confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations increased to 823 cases, while ICU hospitalizations decreased to 269 people. The total number of tests conducted is now 472,989, with the testing rate 12.7 per 1,000 people per week.

Majority of California Schools Will Begin Remote – California Governor Gavin Newsom announced new rules Friday that would force many of the state’s school districts to teach remotely when classes begin next month. Schools in counties that the state has put on a “watchlist” due to the rapidly spreading virus will be forced to teach online until they meet certain public health thresholds. Currently, 32 of California’s 58 counties are on that list, many in the most populated areas. The rules would also require teachers and staff to maintain six feet of physical distance in schools allowed to reopen, and mandate mask wearing for students in third grade and up. Younger children will be encouraged, but not required, to wear face coverings. The announcement comes days after school districts in Los Angeles and San Diego abandoned plans for in-person instruction when the school year begins, following education leaders in Houston, TX, Atlanta, GA, Nashville, TN, Arlington, VA and Broward County, FL.

Thunderbirds Cancel Flight Demonstrations – The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, located at Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada, have canceled demonstrations for the near future after several team members “recently tested positive.” The Thunderbirds have been used as a spirit-lifter doing the COVID-19 pandemic, flying over various cities to thank first responders and exhibit unity. In April, they flew over their hometown of Las Vegas to celebrate those on the front lines fighting COVID-19. While the Air Force has not said how many personnel have the virus or their conditions, none are pilots, and the team plans to resume training next week.


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