Nevada Special Session 2020 News and Information
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced he will call for a special session of the legislature to convene Wednesday, July 8. The 2020 Nevada Special Session is anticipated to last three days. During the three-day special session, the Administration will try to fill the entire $1-billion plus deficit for fiscal year 2021. It is likely that if additional adjustments are necessary, after the special session, they will be made throughout the year.
One unique factor of the 2020 Special Session is that lobbyists and the public will not be allowed in the building. The special session will be streamed live online, and Nevada Lobbyists will have to develop a plan to work around not being allowed in the building while still representing their clients.
Keep up with daily updates on Nevada’s Special Session below. Reach out of McDonald Carano’s Government Affairs & Advocacy team to learn more about the 2020 Nevada Special Session.
2020 Special Session news
Legislature Adjourns Sine Die – The Nevada Legislature adjourned sine die shortly after midnight Thursday morning after six days of business in Carson City addressing various policy items and passing 11 pieces of legislation in total. Lawmakers concluded the session thanking legislative staff after several nights that ran into the early morning hours. Legislators were under a significant amount of pressure to conclude their work in a timely manner after the first special session ran much longer than anticipated. The Governor emphasized a desire to see an efficient session due to ongoing concerns over COVID-19 exposure in the legislative building. Among the most high-profile bills passed is a bill expanding access to a mostly mail-in ballot general election in November. The bill drew the attention of President Donald Trump earlier this week and ultimately led his reelection campaign to file a lawsuit against Republican Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. Lawmakers also passed substantial police and criminal justice reform, resolutions that initiate the process to change how the mining industry is taxed, and a bill extending liability protections to businesses and various entities in the state. Governor Sisolak has signed four bills thus far, including Assembly Bill 4 expanding mail-in ballot access. In a statement released by his office following the adjournment of the legislature, Governor Sisolak announced he plans to sign all remaining bills in the coming days. The three resolutions passed, which propose constitutional amendments to mining taxes, do not require signature by the Governor and will be considered again during the 2021 regular legislative session.
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.
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.
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.
Special Session Day 3 – Lawmakers resumed business Sunday for the third day of the 32nd Special Session after another late night on Saturday. Both houses heard and voted on the three mining tax resolutions proposed, passing all three on near party-line votes. Of the total six bills introduced, three of them have passed both houses and will be delivered to the Governor’s desk for signature. Special session rules allow for each house to introduce up to five bills respectively, leaving room for one additional bill from the Assembly and three from the Senate. However, resolutions are not included in the total bill count and do not require a signature from the Governor. Limited liability legislation and revisions to unemployment insurance are among the topics that were identified in Governor Sisolak’s proclamation that have yet to be introduced in bill language.
Special Session Day 2– Legislators reconvened Saturday morning for the second day of the 32nd Special Session after holding several bill hearings and votes on Friday before adjourning late in the evening. Certain policy items that were identified in Governor Sisolak’s proclamation calling for the special session, including liability protections and revisions to unemployment insurance, have yet to be introduced in bill language. Lawmakers are expected to continue working through the weekend and into next week.
Second Special Session Imminent? – Nevada lawmakers are anticipating a second special session of the legislature, though no details are confirmed at the time of this writing. Governor Steve Sisolak sent lawmakers home from Carson City immediately following the completion of the first special session Sunday evening over coronavirus and public safety concerns. Lawmakers labored for 12 days over the state’s budget, which was initially expected to last only a few days. A second special session is anticipated to be called via Proclamation from Governor Sisolak as early as this weekend, sending legislators back to Carson City sometime next week.
Special Session Comes to An End – Nevada’s 31st Special Session wrapped up Sunday night, addressing the $1.2-billion shortfall in the state’s budget caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The special session was one of the longest in history, spanning 12 days. While lawmakers had to make tough decisions to ultimately cut $1.2-billion in revenue to fill the budget hole, the final piece of legislation passed late Sunday, Assembly Bill 3, identified $138.6-million in state revenue to restore or partially restore some of the proposed cuts.
Sisolak Statement on Second Special Session– Governor Sisolak issued a statement Sunday afternoon that provided clarity on the possibility of a second special session to address policy issues, noting that it will not be immediately following the end of this special session. He cited the state’s upward trend in positive COVID-19 cases as the primary reason for delaying a second special session, saying the state is in a dangerous situation. Governor Sisolak said he still intends to call a second special session not only once it’s safe to do so, but also once the Legislature has had a chance to thoroughly review potential policy items and approach the second session organized and efficiently. Several issues were identified by Governor Sisolak as potential topics to be taken up, including social justice reform, voter protections amid the pandemic, and protective policies for businesses, workers and unemployed Nevadans.
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.
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.
Hearing on Net Proceeds of Minerals (Mining) Tax Bill – Senate Bill 3, which mandates advanced payments of 50-percent of net proceeds on mineral taxes for the state’s General Fund and implements a tax amnesty program, was heard and voted on in both houses Wednesday evening. An amendment to the bill allowed for only the portion going directly to the General Fund to be paid in advance; the portion allocated to schools and local governments remain on the same payment schedule. An additional change diverts 100-percent of the vehicle registration tax, 50-percent of which normally goes to the State Highway Fund, to the General Fund. The provisions in the bill are estimated to generate an additional $58.6-million for the state. The bill passed in the Senate with 19 in favor and two (2) against before being heard in the Assembly around 9:00 p.m. The bill subsequently passed in the Assembly on a 32-10 bipartisan vote.
Assembly Hears Budget Cut Bill– The Assembly Committee of the Whole held a bill hearing on Assembly Bill 3 Wednesday afternoon, which delineates all the proposed budget cuts throughout state departments and agencies for Fiscal Year 2021. Prior to the hearing, Clark County submitted a fiscal note on the bill, saying the “funding is simply not available” in the county’s budget to absorb the recommended $3.5-million reduction in child welfare services to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Another notable cut to DHHS’s budget is a flat 6-percent reduction in Medicaid reimbursement rates. The cut to Medicaid, as well as cuts to K-12 education, are among the most contentious of the cuts being proposed. Substantial written testimony was submitted by state department employees prior to the hearing, namely from the Department of Taxation, which is subject to 23 layoffs according to the proposed budget cuts. As expected, there was no public comment in support of the bill and opposition testimony was inundated with state employees, education advocates and concerned community members. A vote on the bill is expected later tonight or tomorrow before moving to the Senate.
IFC Approves Federal CARES Act Dollars – The Interim Finance Committee (IFC) met for several hours Tuesday morning, which is why lawmakers did not begin their legislative proceedings until 2:30 p.m. The committee met to approve additional relief to state departments through federal CARES Act dollars. Among those departments set to receive federal funding is the Department of Business and Industry, Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services:
Legislators Continue Work Virtually – Thirteen lawmakers – twelve Assembly members and one Senator – participated virtually on Monday after an individual in the legislative building tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Remote participation was authorized by the legislature in the rules for this special session in the event legislators were exposed or high-risk individuals opted to participate virtually in precaution. The positive case prompted delays in both houses on Friday, however neither house met on Sunday.
Day Four of Special Session – Lawmakers worked through the weekend, spending Saturday continuing discussions, hearing legislation and contemplating painful budget cuts in order to fill the state’s nearly $1.2-billion budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2021. The Senate Committee of the Whole heard Senate Bill 3, while the Assembly Committee of the Whole heard Assembly Bills 1 and 2.
Budget Bill Language – Language for Assembly Bill 3 was uploaded Friday morning after the bill was introduced on the Assembly floor Thursday afternoon. The legislation outlines where all of the state’s budget cuts in the General Fund will be. The Senate held hearings for both Senate Bill 2 & 4 on Friday. Senate Bill 2 would allow a change of eligibility requirements for the Millennium Scholarship for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Senate Bill 4 makes several changes relating to the financial administration of the state.
Tax Package? – There is talk of a potential tax package to be heard in this special or the second one, although no details are known at this time. Governor Steve Sisolak has publicly stated he is not inclined to implement any tax increases, but clearly left the door open for legislators to explore the possibility. Note that if legislators were to hear a tax package, it would only be a tax rate increase, not any new taxes, as implementation of something new would not give the state the immediate revenue it needs to close the budget shortfall. However, any increase would be entirely dependent on a state Senate Republican crossing party lines to clear the constitutional two-thirds majority needed to raise revenue.
$1.15-billion Grim Financial Shortfall– Both the Senate and Assembly received a presentation from the Governor’s Office of Finance providing an overview of the current budget shortfall estimated at $1.15-billion, as well as a summary of proposed measures to address the hole. The proposed actions from the Governor’s Office of Finance are as follows:
Special Session Agenda Announced – Governor Sisolak issued a proclamation for a special session of the Nevada Legislature beginning 9:00 a.m. on July 8. No end date was set in the proclamation.
Despite earlier indications that various policy issues would be included on the agenda, the proclamation is limited to budget actions to address the general fund shortfall.
COVID-19 Fiscal Report – In anticipation of a special session, Governor Steve Sisolak’s administration released the “Nevada COVID-19 Fiscal Report.” The Report outlines the fiscal impacts on the state budget as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and sets out the broad scope of a plan to address the budget shortfall.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced Wednesday that he will likely call for a special session of the legislature to convene Wednesday, July 8. The Legislature will be charged with finding resources to fill the $1-billion plus deficit for fiscal year 2021.
Governor Sisolak updated Nevadans on projected shortfalls for fiscal year 2021, anticipated at this time to be $1.27-billion, or 25-percent of the state’s annual $4.5-billion operating budget. To address the impending shortfall, the state will evaluate tax revenues at the end of June to formulate a plan to fill the massive hole. The Nevada Legislature will likely convene the week of July 6 for a special session of the legislature.
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