Nevada Legislature: Lawmakers face deadline today

One of the last major deadlines of the 2015 Legislature hits today: committee passage in the second house of all legislation not granted an exemption.

That means all non-exempt bills which originated in the Assembly must be out of committee in the Senate and visa versa by midnight today.

That deadline is followed just one week later — on May 22 — by the deadline for second house passage of all non-exempt legislation.

Exemptions are normally granted to all bills referred to the money committees because of their impact on the budget but legislative leadership can also exempt specific pieces of legislation by joint agreement of the two majority leaders.

Emergency measures can also be exempted from the deadlines.

But, for all those measures not granted an exemption, today’s deadline means death if they don’t get out of the second house committee.

Starting today, the Senate committees other than Finance had a total of 126 pieces of legislation and the Assembly, without Ways and Means, had a total of 138 measures still in committee.

One of the tricks used by lawmakers to keep a bill alive while they are still trying to get enough support to pass it is to put a fiscal cost on the measure so that it goes to either the Senate Finance or Assembly Ways and Means committee. Once exempted for fiscal reasons, the bill doesn’t lose that exemption even if it’s later amended so that there’s no cost in passing it.

There are a number of measures not moving at both ends of the building at this point. Judiciary Chairman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, is sitting on several measures while trying to get his Senate counterpart Greg Brower, R-Reno, to vote out measures including gun rights bills such as the controversial “campus carry” measure.

As a result, the two judiciary committees had the largest numbers of bills: 37 in the Senate panel and 46 in the Assembly committee.

But most of the bills needed to end the session — those that have major budgetary impact or generate revenues — are exempt from the deadline.

After today, the focus will shift dramatically to the money committees which will have pretty much final say over anything that costs money.

As a result of repeated re-referrals and exemptions, there are 90 bills in Finance and 94 in Ways and Means.

One of the largest budget packages is scheduled for action today: funding for the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Still on the table are the budgets and bills that implement Gov. Brian Sandoval’s education package. He has proposed a total of nearly $350 million to fund K-12 education. The biggest single piece is the Distributive School Account that provides per pupil funding statewide. Beyond that are a dozen pieces of enabling legislation for the other elements in the package — such as Zoom and Victory schools — most of which are already out of committee. The money committees have to approve the cash to make them work.

The major issue remained the same as it was on day one: how to pay for it all.

The Economic Forum’s projections provide $6.3 billion over the biennium. Deducted from that is nearly $180 million in tax credits to companies like Tesla that are already approved.

But the governor’s proposed budget needs $7.3-$7.4 billion over that period.

The final deadline for the session is May 27 when the five bills that implement the budget are set to be introduced. Those are the K-12 education bill — which must be passed first — the appropriations Act, the Authorizations Act, the pay bill setting state worker and executive salaries and the Capital Improvement Projects bill.


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