Laws to reduce state worker benefits take effect Jan. 1 |

Laws to reduce state worker benefits take effect Jan. 1

Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY (AP) – Laws to increase safety at construction sites and on Nevada waterways, keep guns out of the reach of the mentally ill, and to protect children from the flames of lighters that look like toys take effect Jan. 1 in Nevada.

Another bill passed by the Legislature during its four-month session earlier this year tightens benefits for new public employees and retirees.

Public employees hired after Jan. 1 will receive less in retirement benefits for every year they work, and they’ll have to work longer to get them.

SB427 changed the “multiplier” used to calculate the percent of public employees’ salaries they get after they retire, from 2.67 percent to 2.5 percent. It also reduces cost-of-living adjustments and the eligible retirement age for new employees.

Existing law allows employees to retire at age 65 if they have at least five years of service, age 60 if they have 10 years of service, and at any age if they have at least 30 years of service.

For new hires after Jan. 1, employees with at least 10 years of service will have to wait until they are 62 to retire. Additionally, 15 years of service, as opposed to five, will be required to get a health insurance subsidy.

AB148 was passed in response to a string of construction site accidents on the Las Vegas Strip that killed 12 workers over an 18-month period from January 2008 through June 2009.

It requires 10 hours of OSHA-certified safety training for employees and 30 hours for supervisors, with ongoing training required every five years.

Workers and supervisors must provide proof of training within 15 days of being hired or face suspension or dismissal.

The Las Vegas Sun exposed serious safety flaws on construction sites and lax oversight by regulators, which also prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration into Nevada’s worker safety program.

A report released in October by the federal agency said Nevada’s program had been marred by poorly trained investigators and lackadaisical procedures and was in “urgent” need of oversight corrections.

The 2009 Nevada Legislature also passed a law to prohibit the sale of “novelty” lighters – devices designed to look like cartoon characters, toys or guns, or that play musical notes or have flashing lights.

The bill, AB266, was sponsored by Assembly Majority Floor Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, who said the measure was designed to ban lighters that “actually look like something you would get in a McDonald’s Happy Meal.”

“They’re cute, they’re little, but they can be deadly,” Oceguera said during a committee hearing earlier this year.

AB46 steps up state record-keeping to help keep guns away from mentally ill people. It was written in response to a federal law enacted after the 2007 mass shootings at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead, including the gunman whose prior psychiatric treatment wasn’t listed in records checked by gun dealers who sold him weapons.

Under the Nevada law, any court records on mental competency, insanity pleas, forced admissions to mental health facilities or appointments of a guardian for someone deemed to be incompetent will be forwarded to Nevada’s central repository for crime records.

The state in turn will transmit the court records to the federal criminal background database, which gets queries from gun dealers when someone attempts to buy weapons

Operators of boats that are towing a person on water skis or other devices must be least 16 years old, instead of 14, under AB73. A 14-year-old can drive the boat if someone else in the vessel is at least 18 and able to supervise. Additionally, “observers,” required under state law to keep an eye on the person being towed must be at least 14, or 12 if another passenger is at least 18.