2019 Legislative Session
The third week of Nevada’s 80th legislative session is now over! So far, about 450 bills have been drafted and formally introduced, with plenty more coming in the session’s next 102 days. At Nevada Policy, we’ll be keeping track of the most important bills on our online Legislative Bill Tracker. Our tracker has been updated in real time throughout the week (view here), and every Friday a summary of developments is posted right on our website (view here). Click below to see what we are watching as of today!
Nevada’s 80th Legislature is set to repeal the minor reforms previous lawmakers made to prevailing wage for school-construction projects. So, what does that mean? In short, that public-education construction projects are about to get a whole lot more expensive — leaving less money for other reforms that could actually make a difference. A look at school-district spending reveals just how much more expensive such projects are going to be. In 2015, the Legislature briefly repealed the prevailing wage requirement for school districts, and a bid for a project at K.O. Knudson Middle School came in at $2.7 million. However, before the district could award the contract, lawmakers increased the amount of “prevailing wage” the district was forced to pay, driving the lowest bid up to $3.6 million. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal points out, AB136 demonstrates that lawmakers are more interested in “increasing the power of their union cronies” than prioritizing student needs. (Read more)
Given the ever-increasing amount of money spent on campaigns and elections, it’s unsurprising that some political pundits are constantly wringing their hands over how to “get money out of politics.” Maybe we, as voters, should instead be asking why there is so much money in politics in the first place. As it turns out, industries that have significant government involvement are among the biggest spenders in politics. As Steven Greenhut points out at Reason.com, “The problem — at least with political spending — is government, not rich people.” Government’s size and control over the economy is what drives the massive spending on politics, and that’s only going to get worse if government gets away with cracking down on how people spend money exercising their First Amendment rights. (Read more)
Another week, and somewhere in the nation, another teacher strike is happening. Now in the midst of a statewide teacher walk-out is West Virginia where the teacher union is fight legislation that would give parents more choice in education by expanding the availability of charter schools. Some labor experts believe the wave of teacher strikes is a response to the recent Janus Supreme Court ruling, which allows public-sector workers to opt out of paying dues or fees to such unions. Patrick Semmens, spokesman for the National Right to Work Foundation, told the Washington Free Beacon “There’s no question that before Janus teacher union officials took much of the rank-and-file for granted, and now without dues payments being mandatory union officials are scrambling to attempt to justify the dues their members are paying… Part of that response seems to be a ramping up of their hate-the-boss rhetoric coupled with strikes that hold taxpayers and students hostage to union boss demands.” (Read more)
Tax and spend
Governor Sisolak promised there would be “no new taxes” this legislative session, but his budget isn’t completely free of new tax revenue. Gov. Sisolak’s $8.8 billion budget “delays” a scheduled reduction in the state’s Modified Business Tax — a payroll tax paid by employers. Postponing the reduction would constitute a $100 million increase in tax revenue over the biennium. Consequently, many GOP lawmakers argue such a move will need the two-thirds support from both chambers required by the state constitution. Democrats in leadership, however, disagree. Lawyers and politicians can argue about the semantics, but one thing’s for certain: Delaying the sunset for the tax means employers are going to have to shell out more money to government coffers than they otherwise would. There’s little doubt that normal people would call that an increase. (Read more)