Nevada lawmakers pass bills on health care, education and elections ahead of deadline
The Nevada Legislature passed a major deadline on Friday, where all bills must have passed out of their first committee. Those that didn’t are dead for the most part. Now, they’ll need to be passed by both houses with identical language and signed or vetoed by Nevada’s Republican governor in order to become law.
Here’s a roundup of some state Assembly (AB) and Senate (SB) bills that advanced:
AB 112 requests $15 million from the state to fund wildlife migration corridors, so animals such as mule deer, bighorn sheep, and desert tortoises can cross either under or over major roads safely.
AB 184 establishes an incentive program for purchasing large electric trucks and buses. There are higher monetary incentives for small business owners and minority-, veteran-, LGBTQ- and tribal-owned businesses. The funding would come from a federal program and a one-time $40 million appropriation from the state.
SB 406, backed by Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, would make it a felony to harass or intimidate election workers with the intent of interfering with an election. This law currently applies to voter intimidation at the polls. The bill also makes it a felony to disseminate personal information about election workers.
AB 286 ensures people in county or city jails, who haven’t been charged with a crime, can register to vote and cast a vote via absentee ballot during primary and general elections via early voting or on Election Day. The original bill would’ve created a polling site in local jails, but that has been omitted via an amendment.
Bills backed by Republican state lawmakers to require voter ID and to move up voting deadlines did not get hearings and are dead.
AB 285 and AB 330 are similar bills that would give more leeway to school districts to remove children from classrooms and campuses. Specifically, they represent a rollback of parts of a 2019 restorative discipline bill, including lowering the minimum age for expulsion from 11 to six.
AB 400 is Republican Governor Joe Lombardo’s education omnibus bill. It would create new education funding accounts, open the door for more funding for private school scholarships, and reinstate a rule to hold back students who cannot read by third grade.
SB 347 would have radically changed the governance of Nevada’s colleges, but it was gutted before it passed the Senate Committee on Education. Now, as amended, it merely creates a commission on higher education funding.
AB 226 allows recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to qualify for in-state tuition at all public colleges and universities after living in Nevada for 12 months.
Two connected bills, one backed by Democratic State Attorney General Aaron Ford, SB 35, and the other, SB 343, by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, both increase punishment by lowering the amount of fentanyl that can be considered for low-, mid- and high-level trafficking. Cannizzaro’s bill adds protections for “good Samaritans” who report overdoses, and Ford’s bill requires treatment programs to be implemented in jails when funding is available.
Similar bills with even stricter punishments backed by Republican state lawmakers did not get hearings and did not advance.
AB 354 makes it illegal to have firearms within 100 feet of election polling sites, at places where ballots are counted, and at drop-off boxes. Exceptions include law enforcement, private security, or if the firearm is stored in a vehicle or private establishment.
Two bills limit who can own a gun: AB 355 prohibits people under the age of 21 from owning a semiautomatic shotgun and/or rifle, except if they’re in the military or law enforcement. SB 171 prohibits people convicted of attempting to or carrying out a hate crime from owning a firearm.
A Republican-backed bill allowing people to keep a concealed handgun in their vehicles at Nevada colleges and universities, where they’re currently prohibited, did not receive a hearing and did not move on.
AB 250 aims to lower prescription drug costs. It would expand a policy under the federal Inflation Reduction Act, which will allow Medicare to negotiate the price of certain drugs starting in 2026. The state bill would make it so the prices negotiated at the federal level would be available for all Nevadans, regardless of insurance in most cases.
SB 131 prohibits the state from issuing an arrest warrant for someone who’s been charged in another state for providing or receiving reproductive health care, like an abortion in a state that has banned the procedure, as long as it’s not in violation in Nevada. The legislation would codify an executive order by former Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak.
SB 419, known as the HOPE Act, was intended to allow people, regardless of immigration status, to access Medicaid coverage, but it changed quite a bit. The amended version will establish a state-funded insurance program, similar to Medicaid, for children and adults under 26 and for postpartum care coverage for those who are ineligible for Medicaid due to immigration restrictions. The bill would also allow DACA recipients to access Medicaid. The Biden administration is also looking to provide Medicaid and access to the Affordable Care Act at the federal level for Dreamers.
Two Senate bills try to make it easier to obtain housing: SB 78 limits application fees to the actual cost of processing an application within reason and prohibits landlords from accepting and collecting fees for multiple applications for the same unit at once. SB 143 prohibits property owners from inquiring about and refusing to rent to someone who has a criminal record. There are exceptions for violent and sex crimes.
SB 155 makes it so people experiencing homelessness who have been charged with a misdemeanor associated with being homeless would not have to pay fines and instead may be ordered to attend a diversion program. Offenses include public nuisance, unlawful occupancy of a vacant building and unlawful possession of a retail store cart. The bill’s original intention was to stop city and county governments from discriminating against people experiencing homelessness by adopting ordinances that ban people from sleeping and sharing food outside, but that was gutted by the amendment.
Other bills worth noting
AB 73 allows students in public schools to wear cultural and religious regalia at graduation ceremonies. If an item isn’t allowed, a student can petition for an appeal.
AB 140 makes Juneteenth a state holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, the day enslaved people in Texas were informed of their freedom more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Congress recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021.
AB 161 aims to make traffic stops safer. It would allow people to voluntarily indicate if they have a communication impairment on their driver’s licenses and/or registration. This includes someone who is deaf, has a speech disorder, has language barriers, or is neurodivergent.
AB 356 makes it a misdemeanor to place a location tracking device on someone’s vehicle without their consent. There’s nothing in Nevada law that outright prohibits it. This comes after GPS trackers were placed on local elected officials’ cars.
AJR 5 creates a state lottery. Since it is a constitutional amendment, it does not require the governor’s signature, but it needs to pass this session and next before going to voters in 2026. Monies from the sale of lottery tickets would fund more mental health care for youth.
SB 92 decriminalizes street food vending in Nevada counties with a population of 100,000 or more. It would also require local health boards to adopt certain regulations. An amendment requires local health boards to create tiers for food vendors, distinguishing those who sell prepackaged foods and don’t require temperature controls, those with limited handling and preparation, and those that require food to be cooked and prepared on-site.
SB 391 prohibits Nevada counties, cities, and unincorporated towns from sounding sirens, bells or alarms meant to target what is commonly known as “sundown sirens,” which warned Indigenous and people of color to leave city limits before the sun went down or face punishment. There is a sundown siren that still rings in Minden, Nevada. Each violation will cost $50,000.
Jose Davila IV is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.