The Nevada Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that will raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour.
Senate Bill 106 will raise the minimum wage by 75-cents an hour each year for the next five years.
That will raise the wage from $8.25 to $12 an hour for businesses that don’t provide workers with health benefits and from $7.25 an hour for businesses that do offer healthcare benefits to $11 an hour.
Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, opposed SB106 saying it “puts the concept of minimum wage increases on auto pilot.” He said that offers no protection for businesses in an economic downturn.
The bill was approved 12-9 on a party line vote with non-partisan Patricia Farley joining the majority.
Senate calls for constitutional amendment to hold annual legislative sessions
The Senate on Wednesday voted to seek a constitutional amendment that would provide for annual sessions of the Nevada Legislature.
The vote was 12-9 along party lines with Republicans opposed.
SJR11 would order 120-day sessions with 90 legislative days in odd numbered years and a shorter 45-day session with up to 30 legislative days in even numbered years.
The shorter even-year session is designed to deal with budgetary issues.
It would also remove the language that limits legislative salaries to just 60 days each session, instead directing lawmakers be paid for each day they actually serve. The rate of pay would be set by lawmakers themselves.
The resolution defines a legislative day as any day in which the Legislature is in session or in which a legislative committee is meeting.
The proposed amendment would also allow lawmakers to apply for and receive expenses.
Currently, the state constitution provides lawmakers meet for 120 calendar days every two years and limits salaries to just the first 60 days.
Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, opposed the measure arguing it reduces the predictability businesses need to deal with changing laws.
He also pointed out Texas, which is much larger and more populous than Nevada, has a biennial legislature. He said the people should have the right to bring any such changes to lawmakers, not the other way around.
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said the proposed amendment would go to a vote of the people in 2021 if lawmakers approve it in this and the 2019 session.
Senate calls for change to property tax rules
Nevada senators voted Monday to seek a constitutional change that would reset the taxable value of a piece of property when it’s sold or transferred to a new owner.
Under existing rules, properties depreciate 1.5 percent each year to a maximum of 75 percent and carry that depreciated taxable value forward to any new owners.
Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, said that results in some mansions paying a lower amount of property taxes than a tract home and creates “structural deficits for all our local governments.”
Sen. Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, said she agrees Nevada’s property tax laws need to be revised but urged the issue be studied this coming interim instead of pushing SJR14 forward this session. She said that would allow a comprehensive solution.
That idea was opposed by Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, who said the issue can still be studied in the interim and, if SJR14 doesn’t look like the right answer, the 2019 Legislature could simply dump it.
“This allows us to move forward without making any dramatic changes,” he said adding no one’s property taxes would go up because of this joint resolution.
He said if the constitutional change is finally approved, the only properties that would see an increase are those that are sold.
That change is similar to nearly every other state including neighboring California.
The resolution was approved 13-8 with all Republicans except Kieckhefer opposed.