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Nevada lawmakers send slew of bills, including parts of the budget to the governor’s desk

The exterior of a tan building with silver letters that read Nevada State Legislature.
Alexa Ard
KUNR Public Radio

With less than a week left in the legislative session, there are more than a hundred bills on the Nevada governor’s desk, and more are on their way. KUNR’s Marc Garber checked in with Lucia Starbuck to learn where things stand.

MARC GARBER: Even though yesterday was Memorial Day holiday, the legislative building was bustling with lawmakers, lobbyists, and journalists. What took place there?

LUCIA STARBUCK: On Monday, lawmakers were scheduled to attempt to override one of the governor’s vetos for a bill that would’ve prohibited people convicted of a hate crime from owning a firearm for 10 years. But the Senate moved on without a discussion. At the end of the day, they were one Democrat short of the two-thirds they needed. Overrides aren’t that common, in fact, the last one was in 2009. Lawmakers also heard the bill to fund the new Oakland Athletics Stadium in Las Vegas. There wouldn’t be any new taxes – the bill proposes up to $380 million in public financing, mainly from the state through tax credits and Clark County bonds. Opponents say they’d rather see the government prioritize education, health and housing. Supporters say the stadium is a worthwhile investment.

GARBER: Friday was the deadline for bills to pass out of the second house unless they’re exempt. Which ones survived?

STARBUCK: Some of the bills we’ve been following are now on the governor’s desk. He has five days to either sign, veto, or if he doesn’t do anything, they’ll automatically become law. One bill would allow medical aid in dying where terminally ill residents with a diagnosis of six months left to live can take life-ending medication. This is the fifth time the bill has been before the legislature, and this is the first time it’s made it to the governor’s desk. Another bill awaiting the governor’s signature is one about placing a GPS tracker on someone’s car without their consent. This bill makes it a misdemeanor. However, an amendment was added that excludes law enforcement if they have a warrant or court order. Other bills would lower prescription drug costs and limit application fees for people looking to rent. And legislation to allow local judges to waive fines for misdemeanors committed by people experiencing homelessness and could instead order them to attend a treatment program. That received unanimous support in the Assembly with one lawmaker absent.

GARBER: On to the budget, many state employees who haven’t had a raise in a long time are anxiously following progress with the budget. What’s going on with it?

STARBUCK: Democratic lawmakers have sent over three out of five of the budget bills to the governor. Some of the biggest fights surround the education budget, which must be passed first according to state law. Democrats are hoping to put nearly $300 million to increase per-pupil spending by roughly 30%, but Republicans want to see that put into early literacy programs and private education opportunities. The bill also funds food services, transportation, and weighted funding for English language learners, at-risk and gifted students. Another budget funds state employee salaries, raises, and bonuses. The bill would increase pay by 10-12% starting in July. Currently, state agencies face 20-30% vacancy rates. The third bill on the governor’s desk funds services such as Nevada Medicaid, colleges and universities, prisons, and the DMV. The other two budget bills are for capital improvements and expenditures outside the general fund, which will go to, for example, an affordable housing program, the Cannabis Compliance Board, and COVID relief

As a note of disclosure, KUNR staff are state employees.

GARBER: Seems like progress is being made. Has the governor signaled he’s going to pass the budget?

STARBUCK: No. There’s still a stalemate. Everything that was passed was on party lines with Republicans against them, saying they won’t support the budget until the governor’s priorities are met. Republicans argue a school discipline bill by Democrats doesn’t go far enough and Democratic leaders haven’t agreed to put money toward private education. Democrats say the budget bills meet most of the priorities outlined in the governor’s executive budget. The last we heard from the governor was on Thursday through a written statement where he again said he would veto the budget if his priorities weren’t met, but he didn’t specify which parts.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
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