Since our last batch of reports from the Nevada Legislature, there has been some movement on bills that appeared to be stalling, along with more of the frantic movement all over the place that becomes increasingly common at this point during the session.
So what’s changed, and what remains the same? With over half of the 80th Session of the Nevada Legislature now in the books, it’s time to check in once more to see how “the people’s branch of government” is serving the people who elected them.
Back from the brink, or pushed over the edge?
On Tuesday, I warned about multiple progressive policy bills that were at risk, including SB 312 to guarantee paid sick leave for more workers and AB 456 to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2024. Since then, Democratic leaders have suddenly begun moving both bills. AB 456 was heard yesterday, and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas) offered an amendment to bump up the schedule to $12 by 2023. Meanwhile Frierson debuted his compromise bill (AB 469) tackling surprise medical bills yesterday, SB 312 is set to be heard later today, and the AB 345 omnibus voting rights bill is getting fast-tracked to work session (as in, committee vote) later today.
However, the future still looks bleak for other bills progressives were hoping for. The AB 118 payday lending reform bill still has no hearings scheduled or deadline exemption granted, so it’s increasingly looking like the payday loan companies’ lobbyists are succeeding in having the Democrats suffocate one of their own bills.
For AB 149, Assembly Member Ozzie Fumo’s (D-Henderson) bill to abolish the death penalty, Fumo himself confirmed that the Assembly Judiciary Committee will not hear his bill, meaning it’s essentially been given its own death sentence. And while AB 325, another landmark criminal justice reform bill designed to end the requirement of cash bail, was heard on March 21, thus far no work session has been scheduled in Judiciary. If this and other bills are not passed out of their respective committees by tomorrow, these proposals will be dead in Carson City until 2021 at the earliest.
Updates “On the Water Front”
Yesterday, we noticed as AB 30 suddenly emerged from the back-burner to retake center stage with its new compromise amendment that likely denies SNWA explicit or implicit approval for its proposed pipeline to Eastern Nevada. Yet while AB 30 is moving, companion pipeline bill AB 51 appears to be dead, so there’s that.
AB 163, however, is very much alive, and Assembly Member Howard Watts’ (D-Las Vegas) landmark water conservation bill appears to have survived committee work session with minor amendments. So is SB 236, a bipartisan backed bill to set a 300 foot limit for water diversion wells, though it also underwent minor tweaks in committee. In addition SB 140 (requiring 10% reserves for water basins), SB 150 (requiring more municipal water resource plans), and SB 250 (requiring that water already marked for local use stay in local use) will go to work session later today.
So here we are, and here we have it: Your Nevada Legislature is doing stuff. While some bills are clearly dying on the vine, others are enjoying a new lease on life. And while some party activists and media pundits crow about how much “we matter” due to the seemingly never-ending parade of presidential candidates, many of the hopes and dreams being espoused by these presidential contenders are being decided (one way or another) by our already elected legislators right here and right now.