Nevada lawmakers are steamrolling into the final two weeks of the 2013 session — a time when action behind the scenes can move at a dizzying pace while the public process dissolves into a mode of hurry up and wait. There is no logic to “legislative time.” Committees scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. may not convene until afternoon. Five-minute recesses can stretch into hours.
But the process grinds on. Here are five things to know about the upcoming legislative agenda as legislators barrel into 16th week of the session Monday with only two full weeks to go:
Few agendas had been posted as of Friday afternoon for what’s to come next week. One exception is Tuesday when the Assembly Taxation and Senate Revenue committees are scheduled to hold a joint hearing on SB514, part of Democratic tax plan to raise more money. The bill, introduced Monday by Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, would increase the payroll tax on large businesses to 1.5 percent, up from the existing rate of 1.17 percent for quarterly payroll above $62,500. Mining companies would pay more, with a proposed payroll tax jumping to 2 percent, the same paid by financial institutions.
Denis estimates the measure would raise $255 million over the upcoming biennium and would be a temporary stop gap until a long-range strategy to overhaul Nevada’s tax structure is developed. But details of that second prong haven’t been revealed and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is against the payroll tax hike.
Legislative money committees have been meeting jointly to close various state budgets so a massive bill can be drafted for the Assembly and Senate to consider. Thursday marks the day the committees are supposed to have all their funding differences resolved. That deadline comes six days before the budget bills are to be introduced on May 29.
THE LAST LEGISLATIVE HURDLE
The last legislative hurdle for many bills comes on Friday, when bills that have survived so far and are not otherwise exempt need to pass the second house or die on the way to the finish line. That means a lot of the legislative action this week will take place on the floors of the Senate and Assembly. Warning: Expect long days and long nights as both houses deal with agenda after agenda of bills to be voted upon.
NO LONG HOLIDAY WEEKEND
While many Nevadans will be looking forward to the traditional start of the summer season with a long Memorial Day weekend, lawmakers will have no such luck. They’ve already been warned by leadership to expect to be in Carson City on Memorial Day, May 27. If the past is any indication, the whole weekend could be lost to the business of lawmaking.
The last days of any legislative session tend to bring surprises. Stay tuned. It’s not over until the final gavel falls.