© 2023 KUNR
An illustrated mountainscape with trees and a broadcast tower.
Serving Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KUNR is partnering with the Sugar Pine Foundation through March 24. Click here to become a sustaining member today at $10/month.
Your gift will also support the restoration of sugar pines in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Budget To Dominate Session As Nevada Lawmakers Begin Work

The entrace of the Nevada Legislature.
Paul Boger
KUNR Public Radio
Nevada's 81st legislative session began Monday, Feb. 1, and will last 120 days. The state's budget, tax reform and election changes are expected to be some of the largest topics during the session.

Nevada's 81st regular legislative session convened in Carson City Monday. Over the next 120 days, lawmakers will craft and debate hundreds of bills and draft a state budget for the next two years. While that process can be tricky by itself, the legislative session is bringing a whole new set of challenges. KUNR Morning Edition host Noah Glick checks in with political editor Paul Boger to discuss what that might mean for the state.

Noah Glick: So what should we expect to see from Carson over the next few months?

Paul Boger: First and foremost, this session will be dominated by the state's budget situation. Due to the economic fallout from the pandemic, the state's about $200 million short [of] where it was in the previous biennium. That's the period of time the legislature sets a budget for.

The governor did not call for any new taxes in the State of the State, but lawmakers may look at some proposals. That includes mining tax increases that they talked about in the special sessions over the summer. Of course, there's property tax reform. That's been floated for several legislative sessions now. The state has one of the most complex property tax mechanisms in the country, so it may be time to look at that. There [are] gaming and sales tax increases that have been put up by the Clark County School District teachers' association.

Other measures may include election changes. Democrats want to make some of those changes permanent from what we saw in the 2020 general. I don't want to miss redistricting. Lawmakers will be looking at the census data, making new legislative lines. Of course, Education funding. There's so much that we could talk about right now.

Glick: There's a lot to do in 120 days, for sure. We've heard a lot from Governor Sisolak and Democrats, but Republicans will have their own priorities, but they're the minority party in both chambers. What are they hoping to accomplish?

Boger: They're really not as small as they were in the 2019 session. Republicans made some gains in the Assembly and the Senate. When delivering her response to the State of the State, Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus from Smith Valley talked about the need for election reform, building off their [false] case that we heard prior to the inauguration of corruption in the election. They want to take a look at the state's election policies and go from there.

But really, what we're talking about here is not necessarily what Republicans can accomplish. It's what they can prevent. We talked about those taxes a minute ago. For any tax policy to pass here in the state, you need two-thirds of all lawmakers to approve it. Well, Democrats don't have that supermajority, which means they're going to need Republicans to sign-off on any sort of tax increase. There's going to need to be some sort of bipartisanship there.

Glick: I would be remiss to not ask about the pandemic and how that's going to impact things. So, lawmakers have essentially closed the building to the public. So what effect is that going to have over the next four months?

Boger: Only lawmakers, staff and some credentialed press will be allowed into the building. Lobbyists and members of the public will have to make appointments with specific lawmakers. There [are also] changes to the rules that lawmakers may make. Under the constitution, lawmakers have to be in Carson City, but they may only be required to be in Carson City. They can maybe work remotely from their hotel room or from their office, even holding votes from their office. So, depending on what lawmakers decide to do with the rules, that could be a very, very different looking session all the way around. It'll be very reminiscent, at least in the beginning from the special session, but there is a hope that as more people get vaccinated, more people will be allowed into the building.

Glick: Wrapping up, I just wanted to get your take on bipartisanship. Since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last month, we've heard a lot of lawmakers talk about this need for coming together and having greater bipartisanship, as well as the need to tone down the rhetoric. So do you expect to see that here in Nevada, in our legislature?

Boger: At the start of the session, there's always a lot of talk about bipartisanship, and it depends on where or who you're talking to. If you look in the Assembly, Speaker Jason Frierson is a fairly moderate Democrat who in the past has been more willing to work with Republicans but will still push democratic priorities. Senate Democrats are a little bit more unwieldy. They've got a lot more progressives in the chamber [proportionally] than they do moderates. So there's some back and forth there. Either way, if they want to get any of that tax policy passed, they're going to need Republicans.

KUNR's Jayden Perez adapted this story for the web.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Related Content