Brisk pace at Nevada Legislature on bill deadline day
CARSON CITY — Nevada lawmakers kept busy Tuesday as they faced down a deadline to pass bills out of the house where they were first introduced.
Legislators needed to vote bills out of the full Senate or Assembly on Tuesday to keep them alive. Some bills are exempt because they have a major fiscal impact or were granted a waiver so lawmakers can consider amendments.
Senators started their day by pushing forward what is arguably the most significant bill of the session — SB252, which is Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposal to restructure the state business license fee and raise an estimated $437 million during the next two years.
Here’s a look at where major bills stood on deadline day:
SURVIVED THE DEADLINE
—Nevada senators voted on party lines to pass a measure urging Congress to turn over more than 7 million of acres of federally managed land within the state’s borders. Republicans backed the bill, but Democrats say the state can’t afford to manage the land and fear it will be closed off to public access.
—Senators unanimously passed SB382, which aims to help Nevada collect more tax revenue from online retailers. The U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause restricts states in their collections, but supporters say the bill puts Nevada in a better place to bring in more money. A similar bill, AB380, passed 33-9 in the Assembly, with some anti-tax Republicans opposed.
—Assembly members fell along party lines Monday to pass AB172, which restricts prevailing-wage rules to only the most expensive public works projects. Democrats say the measure will harm the middle class by applying the rules — a sort of minimum wage for construction workers — to projects that exceed $350,000, instead of the current threshold of $100,000.
—A measure that requires childcare facilities to give first priority to children of military personnel has died after Republicans questioned the need for it in Nevada. Democratic bill sponsor Sen. Pat Spearman has maintained that SB359 is necessary and said she’ll try to bring it back in 2017.
—A bill that enraged transgender advocates and would have required students to use bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex failed in the Assembly on a 20-22 vote after a tense floor debate and discussion. Five Republicans broke rank and voted with Democrats to kill AB 375.
—Assembly members voted overwhelmingly to kill a measure strongly backed by Southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Assembly members voted 8-34 to defeat AB408 and also overwhelmingly voted against two amendments that would have restored original language in the bill and established a fund for the state Attorney General to defend state “sovereignty.”
EXEMPT FROM THE DEADLINE
—A bill that would allow ride-hailing companies like Uber to operate in Nevada received an exemption notice on Monday after failing on a party-line vote last week. SB439 fell short of the required two-thirds majority vote after all 10 Senate Democrats opposed. But the measure can now be revived at any time.
—SJR15, a measure that would add a voter identification requirement in the Nevada Constitution, remains in play. Democrats have opposed similar bills in the Assembly, saying they disenfranchise the poorest and most marginalized voters.
—Another bill that Democrats hope to amend expands early voting hours, but it doesn’t allow clerks to keep polling places open past 8 p.m. Opponents of SB433 fear it will harm people who want to vote after late shifts at work.
—A bill that would require people conducting voter-registration drives to register with the Secretary of State remains in play. Democrats oppose the SB436, saying it throws up hurdles for voter drives.
—A bill to ban conversion therapies aimed at turning gay youth straight lives on. Democratic Sen. David Parks is sponsoring SB353.
—Several Assembly bills that union supporters sharply criticize are also exempt, including a measure that opponents call “Union Armageddon.” AB182 makes major changes to the state’s collective bargaining process, and AB 280 allows local governments to opt out of dealing with employee unions.
—A bill that could be ground zero for a debate between rooftop solar installation companies and utility company NV Energy is still alive.
The original SB374 would raise a cap on net metering, which allows people with solar installations at their homes to sell energy back to the utility company. Negotiations on whether or how much the cap should be raised are ongoing.
—Several tax measures will remain alive in the Legislature, including bills to change the state’s Live Entertainment Tax, reduce vehicle-registration fees and increase taxes on cigarettes.