Senator says Nevada Legislature session bad for business
Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, told the Northern Nevada Development Authority on Wednesday the 2017 Legislature was the least business friendly he has seen.
Settelmeyer told the NNDA’s monthly breakfast meeting at the Carson Nugget the best lawmakers can do for business is “get out of the way.
“This was the most business unfriendly Legislature I’ve ever seen.”
He was joined by NNDA lobbyist Nick Vander Poel of Capitol Partners who described the 2017 session as “the most anti-business session in history.”
He said that opinion is shared by the construction industry and business community in general.
Settelmeyer pointed to bills including the Medicaid for All measure that would have allowed everyone to apply for Medicaid in Nevada.
“If you put everybody to Medicaid, the hospitals fold,” he said.
He said a bill that would mandate baby changing tables be installed in all commercial rest rooms, not just the women’s room made no sense since, according to Settlemeyer, it would even apply to businesses like nightclubs and bars where children aren’t even allowed.
He said another example is the bill that would have mandated paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked and the proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the minimum wage in Nevada $1.25 a year until the rate reaches $14 an hour.
He also cited several bills that would roll back changes made in 2015 to such things as prevailing wage requirements. Those measures were vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.
He said those sorts of measures can best be stopped by businesses themselves getting involved.
“Some issues are not up to us,” he said referring to lawmakers. “They’re up to you,” he told the audience of about 70 businessmen and women.
“I got involved in politics to defend myself,” he told the audience, saying they too must get involved, contact their legislators, invite them to visit their businesses and explain the issues from a business’s point of view. He said education is the key to preventing the introduction and passage of bad bills that hurt business.
Settelmeyer said he’s also hoping voters reject the bill that would move the Legislature to annual sessions instead of every other year.
NNDA members also heard from Chet Burton, president of Western Nevada College, who said overall, the 2017 session was the best that campus has had in years.
He said altogether, the governor and lawmakers pumped $260 million more into higher education over the coming biennium, basically approving everything the Board of Regents asked for.
“We have an obligation to produce a return on that,” he said. “And our return is trained people.”
Burton said the 3 percent raises each year “really makes a commitment to our employees.” He said that will bring in up to $700,000 a year for WNC faculty and staff.
He said a big change for WNC is the Career and Technical Education weighting that doubles what welding and other such classes receive in formula support. Burton said that’s a huge benefit to tech classes that often have just eight or so students instead of the 30-plus students an English class can have.
Burton said WNC will get some $18 million next year, which he said is the first year over year increase in funding since 2008. He pointed out, however, that’s still far less than the $23.5 million WNC got in 2007.