Legislature roundup: All Nevada Highway Patrol troopers to wear body cameras
The long-sought clean-up of the convoluted Live Entertainment Tax won approval in the Assembly late Monday.
Senate Bill 266 by Sen. Mark Lipparelli, R-Las Vegas, clarifies that all indoor and outdoor music and performance events including Burning Man and Electric Daisy are subject to the tax as are events in venues outside the existing resort properties created to escape the tax.
But it changes the tax from a two-tiered system to a single tier of 9 percent — less than the existing maximum 10 percent. In return, it gets rid of the complex taxation of food and drink imposed on certain smaller events.
Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said it would be revenue neutral while broadening the base to capture taxes from some entities that have been untaxed. Live entertainment generates a significant amount of revenue for the state General Fund — upward of $120 million a year.
The measure was on its way back to the Senate for final concurrence on the last amendment, then to the governor for his signature.
Lipparelli and Kirkpatrick were loudly praised by members of the Assembly for what was described as a bill that would make the tax more stable, fair and broader based without causing a significant increase in what most of those affected must pay. Kirkpatrick has worked on the LET for several sessions.
All NHP troopers to wear body cameras
Lawmakers approved a measure requiring all Nevada Highway Patrol troopers to wear portable body cameras by 2016.
Assembly members voted to approve SB111 on Monday, and the measure now goes to Gov. Brian Sandoval for approval.
The measure is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Aaron Ford and transfers nearly $1.3 million over two years to outfit more than 400 troopers with portable body cameras.
The bill requires the highway patrol to have regulations in place for troopers wearing the cameras by July 2016.
Lawmakers approved AB162 earlier in May, which requires police to set certain regulations on wearing portable body cameras and clarifies that footage captured on the cameras is a public record.
Prevailing wage changes approved
Lawmakers late Monday passed an amended version of the bill at least partially exempting some projects from the prevailing wage requirements.
But some assembly members objected saying the bill reverses the changes made in an earlier measure exempting school districts from the existing wage requirements.
The SB172 required prevailing wages for tradesmen working on projects costing $500,000 or more. The amendment drops that to projects with a value of $250,000 — which still is more than double the existing law’s $100,000 threshold.
The effect is to exempt many more projects from prevailing wage requirements that some argue artificially elevate the cost of public construction.
The new bill repeals the complete exemption from prevailing wage requirements that was passed and signed by the governor earlier in this session. Instead, the bill allows projects by school districts and the Nevada System of Higher Education to pay 90 percent of prevailing wages to tradesmen working on their projects that are subject to prevailing wages.
Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, said that undoes the work completed earlier in the session and already signed by the governor. He said it should be rejected. But the Assembly approved the amendment, sending the bill to the governor’s desk. In addition, the amendment proposed by Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, changes the method of calculating prevailing wages for any trade to set them at the average wage if 50 percent or more of those polled come in at a certain level. If less than 50 percent, he said the wage would be set at the average of those wages reported.
Lawmakers OK studying Clark County School District breakup
Nevada lawmakers have approved a measure that seeks to eventually break up the Clark County School District.
The Senate gave final approval to AB394 Monday with just minutes left in the legislative session.
The measure would charge an interim committee with studying how to break up the nation’s fifth largest school district into five evenly divided school precincts before the 2018-19 school year.
The interim committee would be made up of lawmakers, legislative staff and members of the public and would be required to hold numerous public meetings to present the study before officially taking effect in June 2018.
It would also give smaller school districts an option to combine and share resources.
Republican Assemblyman David Gardner said breaking up the district would give parents more access to school administration.
Lawmakers fail in push for more ride-hailing companies rules
Nevada lawmakers failed to approve a number of revised regulations to ride-hailing companies like Uber before the legislative session ended.
Lawmakers failed to approve an amended version of SB440 on Monday before the legislative session ended at midnight.
The bill would have prohibited ride-hailing companies from picking up passengers at certain licensed casinos and hotels with more than 1,000 rooms unless they reach an agreement beforehand specifying where passengers can be picked up.
It also would have required them to refer disabled people to an alternative transportation provider. Assembly members approved the amendment late Monday, but it was unable to pass the Senate before the session ended.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed legislation into law last week allowing ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate legally in the state.
Lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly gave the green light to SB511, a bill backed by Gov. Brian Sandoval that will offer scholarships for future teachers and $5,000 bonuses for first-year teachers as a way to combat a worker shortage.
The measure was introduced late in the session amid concerns that the teacher shortage would sabotage Sandoval’s major education reform initiatives. A total of $25 million has been allocated for the programs.
EXTRA DMV FEE
Motorists may soon be seeing a $1 fee at the Nevada DMV as the agency raises money for a new computer system.
Assembly members approve SB502 on Monday, which authorizes a $1 technology fee on any paid transaction at the DMV. The money is aimed at funding a $109 million DMV modernization project.
Lawmakers bring back $9 minimum wage in overtime bill
Nevada lawmakers have revived a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage and ease restrictions that would have made it harder for workers to qualify for overtime pay.
Assembly members and senators agreed Sunday to restore a provision to SB193 that raises the state’s minimum wage to $9 for workers without employer-sponsored health insurance. It’s expected to get final approval in the Senate.
Lawmakers also amended the measure to require overtime pay after 10 hours of work in an 18-hour period, and employees will still be able to collect overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week.
Democrats have routinely voted against the measure, saying that changing the state’s overtime rules would unfairly burden low-wage workers.
Proposed funding for Nevada teacher bonuses rises to $25M
A proposal to offer $5,000 bonuses to combat Nevada’s teacher shortage is getting an even bigger boost.
Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer said a budget bill unveiled this weekend calls for an extra $10 million to give bonuses to new teachers. That’s beyond the $10 million in incentives and $5 million in teacher training scholarships included in a separate bill, SB511.
Tax plans and a budget still need final approval for the effort to become reality.
Gov. Brian Sandoval’s administration is leading the late-session charge to attract new teachers to Nevada. It comes as officials fear that the teacher shortage could sabotage his major education initiatives for English language learners and students in poverty.
Clark County School District alone is trying to hire about 2,600 new teachers for next school year.
Nevada need-based college scholarship bill moving forward
A bill creating a need-based grant program for Nevada college students is closer to becoming reality after a budget committee approved the measure.
The Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted Sunday to pass SB227, which would create the Silver State Opportunity Grant Program. The measure now heads to a vote of the full Assembly.
The bill was initially stripped of the $10 million in funding it contained, but budget bills unveiled this weekend allocate $5 million to the program over two years if SB227 passes.
The grant would be separate from the merit-based Millennium Scholarship, and students could use their grant to attend a community college or Nevada State College.
The size of each grant would vary based on a student’s ability to pay.
Husband of Nevada Assemblywoman Vicki Dooling dies at 70
Assembly Republican officials say the husband of lawmaker Vicki Dooling has died of an apparent illness.
Caucus spokesman Ed Gonzalez said Richard Dooling suffered flu-like symptoms and died early Sunday. He was 70.
Vicki Dooling is a freshman Republican from Henderson. She was not expected to return for the rest of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end Monday night.
The couple been married for 50 years and had two children and four grandchildren. Richard Dooling was a real estate development analyst.
Lawmakers and Gov. Brian Sandoval expressed condolences to the family, and Dooling was mentioned in a prayer on the Senate floor.