Gibbons’ bill requests target collective bargaining, K-12 mandates |

Gibbons’ bill requests target collective bargaining, K-12 mandates

Among the 92 bills the Gibbons administration submitted to the Legislative Counsel Bureau this week are proposals to eliminate collective bargaining for schools and local government, create a school voucher system and remove K-12 mandates such as class size reduction.

Chief of Staff Robin Reedy said the governor’s list was proposed to the special legislative session in February but didn’t get much support.

At the top of the list is eliminating mandatory collective bargaining for local entities. Reedy predicted it would win some supporters.

“Right now, there is debate as to whether we are at the bottom,” Reedy said of the recession. “If things don’t get better, I think 288 (the collective bargaining statute) could go away if legislators are listening to the voters.”

Rather than blame local governments for the high salaries of their union workers, Reedy said people should blame lawmakers who imposed rules including binding arbitration for salaries and benefits.

The school vouchers proposal would allow parents to use 75 percent of the per-pupil allowance provided by their district for a private school for their children. Reedy said the 75 percent figure was chosen to ensure the state wasn’t paying for religious education at some of those private schools.

In addition, Gibbons called for legislation deleting earmarks on large parts of the K-12 education budget for programs including class size reduction and full day kindergarten. The plan would also delete the “hold harmless” provisions which guarantee school districts with declining enrollments the same per-pupil funding they got the previous year.

The money still would be provided to the school districts but as a block grant that each district could use at its discretion. Reedy said those programs still could be provided by individual districts, but wouldn’t be mandated.

Separate special education funding, a federal mandate, would remain separate.

The Gibbons plan also would replace the State Board of Education with an advisory board with three gubernatorial appointments and one each from the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader and have the superintendent appointed by and answer to the governor.

And a number of committees and commissions including educational excellence, educational technology and academic standards would be eliminated.

Another proposed bill would try to close the loophole that allowed Harrah’s, among others, to avoid sales tax on a new corporate jet. It would require the payment of the tax on large items of personal property bought out of state, creating a presumption that the tax is owed on any property purchased outside Nevada. Reedy said except for vehicles, where the tax is captured at registration, businesses and individuals routinely get away without paying tax on items bought elsewhere.

Also on the list is a ban on text messaging while driving, imposing a minimum $75 fine for a first offense. Reedy said her staff refers to that as “Robin’s bill.”

“But I’m getting better,” she said.

Any death or injury caused by a driver while texting would be treated as a felony under the proposal. But it includes exemptions for someone reporting a fire, medical or other emergency.

A related proposal would allow the use of photo-electronic equipment to issue traffic citations. Reedy said the most important areas for use of that technology would be construction and school zones.

One proposed bill would close what the support documents described as a loophole in laws requiring reporting and registration of some sex offenders. Support documents say teachers, licensed professionals such as counselors and public safety employees currently are exempt from sex offender registration and community notification requirements “even though they have been convicted of a sexual offense against a student, client or inmate.” The proposed law would remove that exemption.

To stop abuses in the loan modification and foreclosure consultant businesses, those and several other similar businesses would have to be state licensed under another proposal on the governor’s list.

A large number of the other bill drafts requested by the administration are designed to fix problems with existing law, eliminate conflicts between statutes or bring Nevada into compliance with federal requirements.

The bills will all be formally drafted by the legal staff of the Legislative Counsel Bureau and introduced in the first couple of days of the 2011 session in February. The list doesn’t include more than 30 proposed pieces of legislation requested by state agencies, which the budget office and governor’s office declined to support.