Nevada Legislature Week 12: Crunch time for passing bills
April 20, 2015
Lawmakers are up against a major deadline in the 12th week of the Nevada Legislature: Most bills need to pass a vote of either the full Senate or Assembly by Tuesday or they won't advance.
Expect decisions on hot-button issues, including a bill to restrict students to the school bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex and a tax plan championed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Here are some other things to watch:
Most committee meetings are canceled early in the week so lawmakers can spend time debating, amending and voting on bills in the full Senate or Assembly. Many measures must pass their first chamber by the end of the day Tuesday, while some are exempt from the deadline because they have a major fiscal effect.
All eyes are on the governor's proposed business license fee, SB252, which will need two-thirds support to pass in the Senate. A vote is on the agenda for Monday, but has been postponed several times as both parties seek to come to an agreement on the proposal.
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Others are awaiting the revival of SB439, a measure that would create a regulatory framework for ride-hailing companies like Uber but that failed in a vote last week when Democrats lined up against it. Uber is urging senators to bring the proposal back to life by Tuesday.
Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom, a champion for legalizing marijuana, is leading a fact-finding trip to Colorado to explore that state's legal recreational marijuana operations and meet with lawmakers. Republican Sen. Patricia Farley is co-leading the trip, and lobbyists are expected to join.
Farley said the delegation's findings will help inform bills working their way through the Legislature this session that deal with the state's medical marijuana statute. But Nevada could soon be dealing with Colorado's issues: voters will decide on the 2016 ballot whether to legalize recreational pot.
The fact-finding trip is similar to one to Arizona in 2013, when lawmakers checked out medical marijuana dispensaries before authorizing the businesses in Nevada that year.
TEACHER MERIT PAY:
Sandoval is proposing that school districts get serious about performance-based pay.
The Assembly Ways and Means Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday to review AB483, which would require districts to set aside money each year for merit pay and prevents a collective bargaining agreement from sweeping that money elsewhere.
State law already requires districts to implement a performance pay system by the 2015-2016 school year, but the bill adds a few more restrictions. The program must provide a raise no larger than 10 percent of a teacher's base salary, and must apply to at least 5 percent of teachers.
The bill would also require money be set aside in the upcoming school year, while the raises would take effect the following year.
Setting up a merit pay system has been tricky because the state is trying to decide how to to evaluate teachers, especially those who teach subjects that aren't assessed by standardized tests, according to Republican Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, vice chairman of the Assembly Education Committee.
MINIMUM WAGE MEASURE:
A minimum wage and overtime bill that ruffled Democratic feathers in the Senate is heading for its first hearing in the Assembly.
Members of the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee have planned a Wednesday hearing for SB193, which would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $9 an hour for employees who don't receive health insurance through their employer.
Democrats have questioned whether the amount is appropriate or should be higher, and have criticized the bill for doing nothing to raise the $7.25 per hour minimum wage for employees who do receive health benefits.
The bill also repeals a rule that specifies Nevada workers should get overtime after working eight hours in a day. Instead, overtime would kick in after an employee works 40 hours in a week.