Nevada Legislature Week 11: Scholarships, obesity and horses
Nevada lawmakers are sharpening their focus during the 11th week of the legislative session — hundreds of bills died on Friday when they were either rejected or never brought up for discussion by a deadline.
Here are things to watch for in the next few days.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL
Gov. Brian Sandoval is expected to sign a bill he’s championed that’s aimed at helping lower-income students afford private schools.
AB165 would allow businesses credit toward their modified business tax bill if they donate to a qualifying scholarship organization. Scholarships would go to students whose household income doesn’t exceed 300 percent of the poverty level.
“The creation of Opportunity Scholarships ensures that all children, regardless of financial ability, will have the opportunity to attend a school that provides an education that best suits their needs,” Sandoval said.
Democratic opponents say the scholarships — which go to students whose families fall below 300 percent of the poverty level — are not targeted enough to the lowest-income families. They also say the proposal diverts money from public education.
The bill caps state tax credits at $10.5 million over two years, and caps scholarships at $7,755 apiece.
POP TART GUNS
Students won’t have to worry about getting in trouble if they chew a toaster pastry into the shape of a gun under a proposed Nevada law.
Assemblyman Jim Wheeler is sponsoring the AB121, which is scheduled for a floor vote on Tuesday.
The bill would forbid schools from punishing students between kindergarten and the eighth grade that play with toy guns or pretend to use a firearm during school hours.
The bill also extends protections to students who wear clothing with images of firearms, use hand gestures to imitate a gun or brandish partially-eaten pastries in the shape of a weapon.
Wheeler adopted a number of amendments proposed by the Clark County School District that would limit punishment to students who substantially disrupt the classroom.
States including Florida and Texas have passed similar legislation after a highly publicized 2013 incident in which a Maryland second-grader was suspended over a half-eaten Pop-Tart chewed into the shape of a gun.
Nevada senators are expected to vote on a bill requiring state officials to prepare an annual report about obesity in the state and what’s being done to fight it.
Democratic Sen. Mo Denis is sponsoring SB402.
The bill would create a specific definition of obesity in state law: an obese person is a man with a waist size of 40 inches or more or a woman with a waist size of 35 inches or more. It also describes obesity as a chronic disease.
The annual report would also require a demographic breakdown of Nevada’s obesity problem.
Denis has sponsored anti-obesity bills in the past, including one to ban trans fats at schools.
Assembly members are set to vote on a bill that would limit the kinds of service animals a business legally must allow inside.
AB157 would clarify in Nevada law that companies are only required to allow trained service dogs in their businesses and can turn away customers who want to bring in other service or comfort animals.
The bill would bring Nevada in line with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires businesses to admit trained dogs but gives them discretion on allowing other animals. Federal law also recognizes that miniature horses can assist people with disabilities, but allows businesses to decline them.
The measure was proposed by the Nevada Resort Association, which represents casinos.