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Nevada Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – July 18, 2020

Government Affairs Daily Update

July 18, 2020

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

Special Session Day 11

Status of Legislation (As of 4:45 p.m. July 18) –

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.

Debate Over Mining Tax Continues– After Senate Democratic leadership announced early Saturday morning that lawmakers had reached a deal with GOP Senator Keith Pickard to reconsider failed Assembly Bill 4. Pickard, who would have been the key Republican swing vote, changed his mind later that morning. The bill, which failed on a 13-8 party-line vote late Thursday night, proposed to cap mining tax deductions at 60-percent of what is currently allowed, freeing up $102-million in additional revenue for the state. Republicans unanimously opposed the bill in both houses, saying there was not enough time to consult the mining industry and evaluate potential unintended consequences. Senator Pickard was expected to make a motion to reconsider the legislation on the Senate Floor with an amendment that redirected additional money toward education. However, Pickard revealed he would not be supporting AB 4 Saturday morning, citing an undisclosed plan from Senator Joe Hardy (R) that provides approximately $600-million to education – substantially more than the current Senate Democratic plan includes. Education advocates and progressive groups have been incredibly vocal in support of the proposed plan, urging lawmakers to pass legislation that requires more from the mining industry. Further plans from each party are expected soon as the Legislature continues to try to fill gaps from proposed budget cuts to health care and education.

Letter to the Governor from New Workers Coalition – A letter from a new coalition of progressive groups and unions called the “Nevada Workers Coalition” sent a letter to Governor Sisolak Saturday morning, urging him to not seek legislation for business liability protection in the rumored second special session. The coalition is comprised of roughly 20 organizations in the state, including the Nevada State Education Association, Culinary Union, and Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Employer liability has been a prominent topic among business advocates in the state as many hesitate to reopen in fear of COVID-19 related lawsuits. Last week, a campaign spearheaded by the Vegas Chamber, Retail Association of Nevada and Nevada Resort Association called for employer liability legislation to be considered in the potential policy-oriented second special session. There is still no confirmation from Governor Sisolak on whether a second special session will occur, or if the issue of employer liability will be included in the agenda.

Legislators Can Vote Remotely According to LCB – After an individual in the legislative building tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the special session, several lawmakers have opted to participate remotely, including Senator Pat Spearman who is participating from Las Vegas. Despite remote participation being authorized in the rules of the special session, the question of whether a legislator can vote outside of Carson City raised the question of constitutionality. The Nevada Constitution dictates legislative sessions must be held “at the seat of government of the State,” meaning Carson City, however a legal opinion from the Legislative Counsel Bureau General Counsel Kevin Powers reads, “The constitutional provision that legislative sessions must be held at the seat of government requires only that the physical infrastructure and records for the session must be maintained by legislative staff at the seat of government.” The decision is critical as lawmakers move closer to voting on vital budget legislation.

COVID-19 Status Report

Nevada COVID-19 Numbers– Nevada’s cumulative positivity rate is trending upward again on Saturday, hitting a high of 9.08-percent after a week of daily positivity rates in the 20-percent range. Hospitalizations in the state have remained steady and currently sit at 1,006 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients.

  • Daily New Cases: 1,120
  • Total Cases: 34,491
  • Current Hospitalizations: 1,006 (+6 from Friday)
  • Total Recoveries: 22,922 (+0 from Friday)
  • Total Fatalities: 647 (+9 from Friday)

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