Nevada Legislature Week 9: Community college independence to be heard Monday
April 1, 2017
Week nine of the 2017 Legislature kicks off with a hearing on the bill to create a Nevada System of Community Colleges, divorcing Nevada's community colleges from the control of the Board of Regents.
Supporters have argued repeatedly higher education under the regents is "university centric" to the detriment of the community colleges even though they have been charged with providing the workers who will staff high-tech manufacturing centers like Tesla and Panasonic. Assembly Bill 331 by Sparks Republican Ira Hansen will be heard in the Assembly Education Committee.
Also on Monday, the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee will review Senate Joint Resolution 4, a resolution urging Congress to change the U.S. Constitution to reverse the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that opened the gates to unlimited campaign contributions by corporations. That resolution urges that control over political contributions be turned over to the individual states to regulate.
The Assembly Commerce and Labor's Energy Subcommittee will take up AB270, which would restore Nevada's net metering rules to what they were before the Public Utilities Commission changed the rates for solar rooftop customers. Solar energy companies say the changes effectively put them out of business and existing customers say the changes eliminated the economic benefits of installing rooftop solar.
A bill that would make Medicaid coverage available to everyone will be heard on Friday in the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee. AB374 directs state officials to offer Medicaid plans for purchase through the Silver State Health Exchange and to allow use of federal income tax credits and cost sharing reductions authorized by the healthcare act to help pay the premiums.
The Senate Finance Committee on Monday takes up a series of bills that would require periodic reviews of the adequacy of Medicaid rates paid to healthcare providers in Nevada. Many providers refuse to accept Medicaid patients because they say the payment rates are too low. Medicaid is also the subject of bills before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.
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The Assembly Judiciary will take up two measures expanding the duties of prosecutors and law enforcement to collect and turn over to the defense materials that could exonerate a criminal defendant and to do so before trial. Prosecutors would also be required to disclose all evidence positive or not to the defense and preclude them from bringing in evidence that wasn't previously disclosed to the defense in most cases.
The Assembly Health and Human Services Committee will review a bill that would require drug makers to provide the state information about the cost of producing drugs, their profit margins and any assistance to patients in paying for the drugs the company provides.
The Senate Government Affairs Committee will discuss two bills dealing with the ability of counties to review whether improvement districts should be modified, merged or dissolved.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up Chairman Tick Segerblom's bill setting up a system for cities and counties to issue permits for events allowing the use of marijuana as long as those events are restricted to persons 21 and older.
A good share of Tuesday will be taken up by the Interim Finance Committee meeting.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee will hear SB364, a bill that would greatly increase restrictions on trapping in Nevada — including posting signs notifying people they are near a trap line, registration of all traps and snares and requiring trappers to visit their traps every 24 hours.
Thursday's Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee will discuss two bills that would further increase the retail excise tax on marijuana products, dedicating the revenue to specific needs including mental health programs.
Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear SB378. That bill would allow those with a medical marijuana card to get a concealed weapon permit if they aren't otherwise prohibited from having a firearm.
Throughout the week, money committees are planning to close budgets — primarily the less controversial budgets and generally those funded by revenues other than the General Fund.