Join Marcos Lopez for the week 14 legislative briefing as he discusses:
- Which bill had rent control measures added to it, and its potential unintended consequences;
- How an alarming PERS bill could open the way for state employees to no longer have to contribute to their own retirement funds;
- Why the Department of Defense is supporting an occupational licensing bill;
- Which healthcare bill you should reach out to your representatives to vote against; and
- Why a tax credit bill that was unveiled this week has a hearing scheduled for next week.
To keep updated throughout the week on what is happening in Carson City, visit Nevada Policy’s bill tracker at nevadapolicy.org/bill-tracker.
Welcome to Under the Dome, presented by Nevada Policy. I am your host, Marco Lopez, the Outreach and Coalitions Director. Week 14, we have 25 days to go in this legislative session. Hard to believe we’re almost done with it. Now is when all the surprises, the twists, and the turns really is about to start.
May 19th is our next upcoming deadline. It is the second committee passage, so we’re just about a week away.
Recapping this past week, on Monday, we had two big bills kind of come forward that we’ve been keeping an eye in opposition on. The first one is Assembly Bill 289. It seems to be the rent control bill that has the best chance of passing.
It’s paired together with a few other measures that are okay. It has decent parts, which are meant to protect renters from bad actors, specifically landlords who put their properties up and are meant to use their listings as a way to collect revenue with no intent of actually renting out the property. Well, we understand that part and this is probably a good measure for transparency on that side.
It is that section four that worries us. It enacts rent control for seniors or individuals on Social Security for one year. The way that I’ve heard that it’s been sold is that this is the best rent control in the terms of being the least worst, and that’s why individuals voted for it on the Assembly side of the Republican caucus.
It is important to note that there will be still unintended consequences from this, particularly when we look at rent control for seniors. It means that empty nesters tend to stay in larger properties than they need to that might not be suited for their needs, affecting the filtering process of housing to either young individuals or new families that have just formed seeking larger space, driving up the cost in those areas in terms of supply for those spaces, as well as making seniors less attractive as potential renters.
Assembly Bill 359 is one of we’ve mentioned quite frequently. It is the fuel taxes that removes the majority vote that would be required for any fuel taxes moving forward in 2027. It was also heard on Monday.
Remember, please reach out to your legislator and voice opposition to this bill. Again, this is Assembly Bill 359. If this bill were to pass, Clark County Commission would retain the power past 2027 to raise fuel taxes on their own.
One big issue that’s been coming up, we haven’t talked too much on here, but we did have Blaine Osborne of the Rural Hospital Partners come on last week or two weeks ago to talk about this. This is the medical malpractice fight that’s been heating up.
Right now we see trial lawyers versus healthcare sector individuals trying to see if they can raise the current cap that is in place that was voted in place by voters in the early 2000s when it comes to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering from malpractice. This bill that is still alive would raise the cap to $2.5 million that could be received in non-economic damages for pain and suffering.
One of the main reasons that this was voted into place was because we saw one of the largest healthcare insurance providers for doctors practicing medicine in the state pull out in the early 2000s due to the large amount of damages that were being awarded. And it made it unprofitable for them to ensure certain doctors. So voters voted this into place in 2004. So we will continue to follow, see how that goes.
Not really a fight that we are stepping into as Nevada Policy, but it is one of the larger fights that we expect to have some sort of outcome on. Even if the governor does veto this bill, it’s quite possible that the trial lawyers have the money and the organization to be able to bring this forward and to collect the signatures to make it a ballot initiative moving forward.
A couple other bills that later in the week we were keeping up was Senate Bill 388. This one in particular is an interesting one for PERS. It was introduced by Senator Melanie Scheible, the Democrat of Southern Nevada. It would make employee contributions into PERS a subject of collective bargaining.
So we can clearly see an outcome of these collective bargaining agreements where public employees no longer are contributing to their own pensions and rather the contributions that would’ve normally been negotiated would be seen being picked up completely by taxpayers.
This can be an extremely high cost to the government overall in terms of the cost for these pensions rather than a normal 401k where you and I might contribute to it. It would be the employer, in this case, the government, which is really the taxpayers, doing the full contributions for their retirement pension funds.
If you’re more curious about this and essentially, you know, what kind of these amounts that these pensions might look like, I encourage you to go to transparentnevada.com.
It is a project that we run here where we do regular freedom of information acts, kind of collect the salaries and wages and benefits being paid out to all former and current government employees. So if you’re ever kind of curious of what this kind of looks like in terms of retirement pension funds that public employees get, that is a great resource to go check out. And again, that is transparentnevada.com.
One other bill that we’ve been keeping an eye on we’ve mentioned quite a bit is Senate Bill 442, which is the interstate teachers compact. Of course, if we joined this compact, we would join many other states in ensuring that there is a streamlined process where teachers licensed in one state would be able to go to a different member compact state and be able to essentially start teaching as soon as possible with those credentials without going through many more hoops.
This is obviously a positive step forward for occupational licensing and making sure that there is some transferability of licenses across state lines. And this is something that’s been being pushed forward by the Department of Defense and one of the reasons I’ve been pushing it forward is because many spouses of military members and enlisted members tend to be teachers at their schools. So this is a way to be able to contribute and facilitate easy transference of occupations.
This is a positive move forward because there are qualified teachers all over the country and if we can do anything to bring them here to Nevada and increase the quality of our teaching, it is a step in the positive direction.
And this is something that we’ve seen common. All legislative session has been compacts. This has been a very popular concept to try to reduce occupational licensing barriers by joining us in putting us on par with many other states. The only compact that really didn’t make it forward, that was unfortunate that the unions were able to kill, was indeed the nursing compact. It’s unfortunate that one went away, but hopefully we come back in the future and have another opportunity of that.
Assembly Bill 11 is one we haven’t discussed in a while. This was originally mentioned probably in the first few weeks of the legislative session. It was the bill that originally barred the employment of a physician by a hospital.
This has been amended quite significantly and was heard recently this week. Section one of this bill now limits the original blanket prohibition of a hospital or psychiatric hospital from employing a physician and brought it down to just being a practicer of homeopathic or osteopathic medicine with certain exceptions ,among them being one if the hospital is participating in a graduate program or if the hospital or psychiatric hospital is owned and operated by the state government.
So this is quite a usual example that we see in the government: good for thee, but not for me. So they carved themselves out on this one.
They also introduced and amended the language to prohibit any hospital from entering in a non-competition contract with any of their providers of medical services and essentially voided any ones that currently exist. So if this bill does pass, that’s what the bill would do.
And then lastly, it also would commission a study on the interim on the employment of a physician by corporations. So essentially, in the first few sections, they bar the hiring of and employing of medical professionals within certain hospitals. And then at the tail end of this bill, they’re going to conduct a study to see if that is a good idea.
It’s kind of a weird one here in Assembly Bill 11, and we do urge everyone to reach out and oppose this bill. This is a bad bill written even with the amendments and if anything, the amendments might have made it a little bit worse.
AJR6 was the National Vote Compact that we discussed last week. This is moving out of the committee. It does look like there will be a vote on the floor of the Senate early next week. So we will be following that and we will update you next week on what is the outcome of that. And if we will be joining this compact, that would put us in par of enacting along down the road the popular vote over the electoral college.
As I mentioned, the end of session always brings out all different turns and surprises. Now, while we have been talking about the Oakland A’s a bit, we still do not have a bill from them. We’re expecting something coming up, hopefully in the next week or two, and we’ll be able to scrutinize that a little bit more.
But yesterday news broke that the largest tax film package in history was unveiled. So Sony Pictures, which is one of the big five film producers in the nation, is seeking $195 million for 20 years to move to Nevada. So Roberta Lange, the senator from down south, former chair of the Clark County Republican Party, is the one who’s bringing this forward.
Now, we have been extremely critical in the past of film tax subsidies and credits. Something that we have found and the research has found is they do not to pay for themselves in many different occasions.
It’s a little bit too early to kind of give you all the details of this bill since we are still analyzing it. But there will be hearing on Tuesday that I expect us to submit comments on that piece of legislation. And of course, that will be uploaded when it’s ready to Nevadapolicy.org/billtracker, where we keep track of all the testimonies and comments that we have added, as well as putting in opinions on a whole wide range of bills.
So we do encourage you to go visit that at nevadapolicy.org/billtracker. We’re still looking at all the details again at this bill, but it is quite the doozy. And it’s really was one of those surprises this legislative session that we did not kind of see coming and kind of almost feels like it came out of nowhere. But again, it would be a hundred million of tax credits for Sony Pictures to move here over the course of 20 years.
Lastly, just one quick note that I think is important. A joint budget subcommittee on Tuesday voted to approve $11.2 billion in K to 12 spending over the next two years. This does include the roughly $2 billion increase from the previous budget cycle, so that’s about a jump of 26%.
It is important to know that this actually went down on a party line vote over some technicalities relating to how much money was being added to the state education rainy day fund, and the earmarking for early childhood literacy and readiness account, as well as for the Read by Three programs.
Now the Democrats are still saying that those measures should be funded out of the general fund and not the state education fund. I don’t know why that would make sense, but of course they’re trying to make sure that more of the money stays there for the unions and teacher raises and all that, as opposed to using the money more effectively on some of these programs that we know do work that would give the governor some wins.
So rather than making it as simple of a process, they’re trying to complicate things and make sure there’s more competing interest, probably in an attempt to play hardball with the governor on a whole wide range of issues as we approach the end.
So before we wrap it up, a little bit of housekeeping notes. We do have on June 1st coming up at Nevada Policy the northern Nevada Benefit Dinner, titled The Spirit of Nevada. And it will be at the Pepper Mill. You can find more information about that on our website, Nevadapolicy.org.
And I also encourage you to go and check out Free to Offend. Our guest this past week on our Free to Offend podcast was James Lomax, the founder of Life Skills Academy in Henderson. He’s talking about his unique micro school approach to teaching and why the freedom to innovate is so critical to building a better educational future for our children. So I definitely encourage you all to go check that out.
As always, reach out with any comments, questions, or suggestions for our program. This will be the first one that we will be adding a transcript to the webpage of briefing call. And as we will be moving forward just like we did last week with a forward looking kind of update of which bills to support or oppose in the legislative session.
Thank you so much. I hope you all take care.
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Under the Dome: This Week in Carson City
An in-depth analysis of what is going on in Nevada’s government.
Produced by Nevada Policy,
featuring Nevada Policy’s Marcos Lopez.