Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval announced Friday he signed 50 bills into law and pledged to wrap up the 2017 legislative session on time despite the lack of a budget agreement with the Democratic-controlled Legislature three days before its biennial deadline.
The Republican governor’s remarks to reporters came hours after Democratic leaders scrapped funding for an unimplemented school voucher program that Sandoval and Republican legislators have been bent on including in the two-year state spending plan of over $8 billion.
Negotiations on Education Savings Accounts and Democratic priorities came to a halt with Democrats’ maneuvering on Thursday. The political gameplay had a ripple effect on other parts of the budget and, unless negotiations are more fruitful over the weekend, threatens to slash funding for a veterans home and DMV building in northern Nevada, as well as an engineering building at University of Nevada, Reno.
“We need to be done, need to be finished. There’s no reason to call a special session,” Sandoval said. “I’m just saying, I won’t call a special session.”
The session is constitutionally mandated to end at midnight Monday.
Here’s a look at some of the bills Sandoval signed Thursday and Friday:
Nevada’s new Office of Cyber Defense Coordination will house the state’s first permanent cybersecurity response team. It comes with a $3.5 million appropriation to boost existing infrastructure and for the new office to coordinate data systems across all state agencies, consult private businesses on best practices and partner with education officials to develop a technologically savvy workforce.
NURSING MOTHERS AT WORK
Former President Barack Obama’s signature health law requires all employers with a staff of 50 or more people to provide a private place and reasonable break time for workers to extract breast milk.
Democratic Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel said some employers have pointed nursing women to closets to comply with the federal law.
Her Assembly Bill 113 mandates that the space designated for lactation be clean. She and working mothers have said pumping or breastfeeding is essentially preparing food, which comes with health standards.
Nevada is expanding a year-old program allowing hemp cultivation for research and development. Senate Bill 396 will allow people and corporations to produce hemp for agricultural purposes and use it in edible marijuana products or sell it through pot shops.
Hemp is a fiber crafted from seeds and stalks of marijuana plants, and has been defined but not regulated in Nevada law since 1973. Those portions of marijuana plants are low in the chemicals that make people high.
Currently, 19 producers grow about 500 acres of hemp for research purposes in Nevada, according to Russell Wilhelm, manager of the state industrial hemp program.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom, said those and other growers are interested in moving into retail.
BABY CHANGING TABLES
Except for structures licensed specifically for youth, Assembly Bill 241 will require all public buildings built after Oct. 1 of this year to include a baby-changing table in at least one men’s restroom and at least one women’s restroom.
Senate Bill 165 will require schools in Clark and Washoe counties to do more to track childhood obesity by measuring the height and weight of a representative sample of kids in grades 4, 7 and 10. The state will compile and publish a report of the data. Schools will not be required to notify parents before measuring students if it would be a burden on the district.
Sen. Yvanna Cancela hopes to encourage more community gardens in Las Vegas, Henderson and Reno with Senate Bill 429. The law gives local governments explicit authority to establish and regulate urban agricultural areas, from high-tech greenhouses and rooftop crops to corner lots dedicated to sharing vegetables with neighbors.
Assembly Bill 5, sponsored by Sandoval’s own Office of Energy, makes it possible for commercial and industrial property owners to acquire low-cost, long-term financing for renewable energy or energy efficiency projects such as a rooftop solar installation or energy efficient retrofit.
With Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, local governments work with private-sector lenders to provide financing for qualified projects, which is then paid back through an annual assessment on the business’s property tax bill.