Nevada Legislature: Lawmakers rush to finish work on final day | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Legislature: Lawmakers rush to finish work on final day

Michelle Rindels and Riley Snyder
Associated Press

Nevada lawmakers are wrapping up major policy issues in the final hours of the 120-day legislative session.

The Legislature is working Monday to meet a midnight deadline.

Members of the Assembly and Senate have already cleared their plates of arguably their biggest task when they passed a tax package worth $1.1 billion.

They still have not given final approval to bills that would implement the state budget, allow the breakup of the Clark County School District and switch Nevada from a caucus to a primary system.

Legislative leaders say they’re confident that lawmakers will be able to wrap up pending bills in time before the midnight deadline.

Here’s what’s happened to a number of hot-button issues.

SCHOOL DISTRICT BREAKUP

Assembly members approved a watered-down version of a bill that calls for studying the possibility of breaking up the Clark County School District by the 2018-19 school year.

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed the bill, AB 394, after it was amended to require a vote of an interim legislative commission before a breakup goes through.

The bill would require that lawmakers and other interested parties form a commission to study the effects of breaking up the district, the nation’s fifth-largest, into separate school precincts.

Republican Assemblyman David Gardner, who is sponsoring the measure, said it would create more efficient school districts with more access for parents.

Lobbyists with the Clark County School District said breaking up the district could severely interfere with the district’s bond rating and other district-wide agreements.

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT TAX

Changes to Nevada’s live entertainment tax are moving through the Legislature in a bill that proponents say will capture revenue from an evolving entertainment landscape and close confusing loopholes.

Senators voted to approve the bill, SB266, on a unanimous vote on Sunday, and an Assembly committee approved it on Monday. The bill proposes a 9 percent tax on live entertainment, a change from the existing system that imposes a 5 percent or 10 percent tax depending on the size of the venue.

The measure would include escorts but not prostitutes, and it also clarifies that outdoor entertainment events such as the Burning Man festival would be taxed.

OVERTIME/MINIMUM WAGE

Lawmakers have come to a consensus on a measure that raises the minimum wage for some workers to $9 an hour but also makes it harder to qualify for overtime pay.

Assembly members and Senators agreed on Sunday to amend the bill, SB193, to raise the state’s minimum wage for workers without employer-offered health insurance. But it also requires employees to work 10 hours before receiving overtime pay.

The Senate approved changes to the bill on Monday, and the measure now heads to Gov. Brian Sandoval for final approval.

HOAS

An Assembly budget committee passed a bill aimed at reducing the powers that homeowners associations have when they foreclose over unpaid dues. The Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted to pass the bill, AB359, on Monday, and the measure now goes for a vote of the full Assembly.

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled in September that unpaid HOA dues should not only be the first thing paid when a foreclosed home is sold, but that the mortgage itself can be wiped out in the process if a bank doesn’t pay the lien. Realtors say mortgage extinguishment has led to expensive homes being auctioned for a fraction of their worth over relatively small HOA liens and could drag down other property values.

The bill prevents mortgages from being extinguished in a foreclosure. It’s opposed by the HOA industry, which says it takes away a powerful tool they have to force banks to take their liens seriously.