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2023 Nevada Legislative Session: Lawmakers pass final budget bill

A close-up of the seal of Nevada. There are two borders with words. The outer border says, “The Great Seal of the State of Nevada.” The inner border says, “All for our Country.” The center is artwork that includes a quartz mill, train, mountains and more.
Jana Sayson
KUNR Public Radio

Lawmakers send fifth and final budget bill to the governor’s desk

Update, published Thursday, June 8, at 12:02 p.m. PT
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada lawmakers passed the final state budget bill in a special session on Tuesday but are still debating public financing for baseball.

During the roughly two-hour special session, lawmakers only discussed the remaining budget bill for capital improvements. It had the same exact language as the legislation lawmakers failed to pass by the end of the 120-day session on Monday. It puts millions of dollars into the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, statewide ADA and Fire and Life safety programs, and safety enhancements in prisons, among others.

Four Republicans voted in favor of the bill. That support from Republicans helped approve the bill because it dealt with tax policy.

The governor already signed four out of five budget bills before the end of the regular session to fund state services, K-12 public education, state employee raises, and expenditures outside the general fund like COVID relief.

A second special session started Wednesday to address the bill to publicly fund the new Oakland A’s stadium in Las Vegas.

Gov. Lombardo halts bill requiring summer school

Update, published Monday, June 5, at 3:53 p.m. PT
By Jose Davila IV

SB 340 would have required school districts and the State Public Charter School Authority to provide summer school during the 2023 and 2024 summers. It also called for school districts to transport and feed summer school students.

In his veto message, Lombardo wrote that the bill was well-intentioned but imposed significant costs on districts without identifying a funding mechanism, especially once federal COVID relief dollars run out.

He also said it made little sense to pass this bill when districts have already made summer plans for this year. However, the Legislature did pass a similar bill on a similar timeline requiring summer school during the 2021 session.

Jose Davila IV is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Gov. Lombardo vetoes substitute teacher health care bill

Update, published Monday, June 5, at 2:32 p.m. PT
By Jose Davila IV

AB 282 would have required school districts to provide full-time substitute teachers a subsidy for purchasing health insurance. That subsidy would have to be at least $450 per month for any teacher who works at least 30 consecutive days of instruction in a school year.

In his veto message, Lombardo agreed that substitute teacher compensation is integral to keeping teachers in classrooms but criticized the bill’s clarity on who would qualify and its exclusion of charter school subs.

He advocated for a raise in the daily wages of substitute teachers instead.

Gov. Lombardo signs GPS tracker bill, lawmakers reintroduce vetoed budget

Update, published Sunday, June 4, at 11:15 p.m. PT
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada lawmakers have introduced a new budget bill. But other than a new bill number, it contains the same language as the legislation Governor Joe Lombardo vetoed. It funds services such as state police, DMV, Medicaid, and colleges, and universities.

June 5 is the last scheduled day of the 120-day legislative session. Lawmakers must pass this budget bill along with the one to fund capital improvements or risk a special session.

Lombardo has already signed the three other budget bills – to fund K-12 public education, state employee raises, and expenditures outside the general fund like COVID relief.

The governor also signed a bill related to GPS trackers into law. Starting in July, it will be a misdemeanor to place a location tracking device on someone’s vehicle without their consent. Before the bill’s passing, nothing in Nevada law outright prohibited it. An amendment excludes law enforcement if they have a warrant or court order.

This comes after a private investigator placed GPS trackers on the cars of Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and former Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung. The elected officials are still in a legal battle to determine who hired the PI.

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

Lombardo vetoes part of budget, signs protections for abortion patients, transgender inmates

Original story, published Friday, June 2, at 6:41 p.m. PT.
By Lucia Starbuck

The governor has signed three out of five of the budget bills. This includes one to fund K-12 education, which increases per-pupil spending by nearly 30%. It also funds food services, transportation, and weighted financing for English language learners, at-risk and gifted students.

Another budget bill funds state employee salaries, raises, and bonuses. It will increase pay by 10-12% starting in July and by 4% the next fiscal year. And the other is for expenditures outside the general fund for an affordable housing program, the Cannabis Compliance Board, and COVID relief, for example.

However, negotiations have only gone so far.

Right before the midnight deadline on June 1, Lombardo vetoed the budget bill to fund services such as state police, DMV, Medicaid, and colleges, and universities. The veto message acknowledged the budget largely reflects Lombardo’s priorities, but he criticized the use of one-time funding for recurring programs. He didn’t specify which parts he disagreed with. Lombardo repeated that his priorities hadn’t been met – including scholarship opportunities for private education.

The following day, progressive groups held a press conference in front of the legislature to denounce the governor’s decision.

“This governor cannot call himself the safety governor, the education governor, or the healthcare governor when he vetoed a budget this critical to the state of Nevada,” said Annette Magnus, executive director of Battle Born Progress.

Lawmakers have until June 5 to either send a new budget bill to the governor’s desk, attempt to override the veto, but they’re one Democrat short of the two-thirds needed, or risk a special session. State services must be funded by July 1.

The final budget bill would put appropriations for capital improvements, but that hasn’t reached the governor yet.

Here is some of the legislation KUNR has been following.

Bills signed into law

SB 406 makes it a felony to harass or intimidate election workers with the goal of interfering with an election. This law also makes it a felony to disseminate personal information about election workers.

SB 131 prohibits the governor from issuing an arrest warrant for someone 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. This codifies an executive order by former Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak.

SB 153 requires the Nevada Department of Corrections to create regulations for the security, supervision, medical, and mental health treatment of incarcerated people who are transgender or gender non-conforming. Correctional staff will also be expected to go through cultural competency training.

AB 285 and AB 330, backed by Democrats and the governor, respectively, roll back a 2019 restorative discipline bill and make it easier for teachers and administrators to suspend or expel disruptive or violent students in some cases.

AB 73 allows students in public schools to wear cultural and religious regalia at graduation ceremonies. A student can petition for an appeal if an item isn't allowed.

Bills awaiting action from the governor

AB 250 would lower prescription drug costs by expanding a policy under the federal Inflation Reduction Act, allowing 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 239 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 the first time it’s made it to the governor’s desk.

SB 92 would create legal avenues for street vending in Washoe and Clark counties. Several large amendments restrict where vendors can serve and allow local governments to impose fines if a vendor doesn’t have a permit or doesn’t follow the licensing rules.

AB 356 would make it a misdemeanor to place a location tracking device on someone’s vehicle without their consent. Currently, nothing in Nevada law outright prohibits it. An amendment excludes law enforcement if they have a warrant or court order.

SB 391 would prohibit Nevada counties, cities, and unincorporated towns from sounding sirens, bells, or alarms commonly known as “sundown sirens,” which warned Indigenous and people of color to leave city limits before the sun went down or face punishment. A sundown siren still rings in Minden, Nevada. Each violation will cost $50,000. An amendment prohibits the bells from being tested more often than every six months.

SB 172 would allow minors to access services that prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) without a parent’s consent.

Vetoed bills

SB 133 would’ve made it a felony to be a so-called fake elector by signing paperwork stating that a presidential candidate that lost has won in the state.

AB 354 would’ve made it illegal to have firearms within 100 feet of election polling sites, where ballots are counted, and at drop-off boxes.

AB 355 would’ve prohibited people under 21 from owning a semiautomatic shotgun and/or rifle.

SB 171 would’ve prohibited people convicted of attempting to or carrying out a hate crime from owning a firearm for 10 years.

The governor has five days to respond once a bill gets to him – he can either sign, veto, or ignore a bill, and it will automatically become law.

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

Jose Davila IV is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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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