Legislative briefs for May 10 | NevadaAppeal.com

Legislative briefs for May 10

Union wants to soften Nevada teacher firing bill

(AP) – Union representatives are trying to soften two Democrat-sponsored bills making it easier to fire underperforming teachers.

Nevada State Education Association on Monday proposed adding more protections for teachers who are new or back on probationary status after an unsatisfactory evaluation. They also want the law to require intensive assistance for underperforming teachers before a district fires them.

The amendments came along with others from school districts trying to shape the bills after they passed the Assembly and are now working through the Senate.

Democratic Assembly leaders are sponsoring the bills, which are based on recommendations from the task force that submitted Nevada’s application for federal Race to the Top education funds.

Nevada schools went through a hiring spree last decade, and sponsors say it’s too difficult to fire underperforming teachers.

May 19 hearing set on Nevada special election

(AP) – A state judge in Carson City has set a May 19 hearing to consider arguments over how a special election will be conducted to fill Nevada’s vacant U.S. House seat.

Secretary of State Ross Miller last week said the election to fill the 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by Dean Heller will be open to anyone who wants to run. There is no primary or filing fee, and candidates can file between May 23 and May 25.

The state Republican Party filed a lawsuit, arguing that political party central committees should pick the nominees to appear on the Sept. 13 ballot.

Heller on Monday assumed the U.S. Senate post previously held by John Ensign, who resigned.

Nevada has never held a special election to fill a House vacancy.

Nevada employee benefits stoke north-south tension

(AP) – Tensions are running high over a proposal to have southern Nevada state employees subsidize the higher health insurance premiums of their northern Nevada counterparts.

Lawmakers in a joint budget committee Monday voted to pass the governor’s recommended budget for the Public Employees Benefits Program. The program’s board already approved proposed cost-cutting changes including reducing vision and dental coverage and shifting employees to high-deductible insurance plans that closer reflect the market cost of medical services.

Legislators from southern Nevada were unsuccessful in blocking a portion of the budget that would equalize the HMO insurance premiums between public employees in the north and south. Health care costs more in northern Nevada because the population is smaller and fewer providers compete against each other.

Northerners said equalizing payments was only fair.