Week six of the 2021 Nevada Legislature has come and gone, leaving lawmakers with the first major deadline of the session. KUNR’s political editor Paul Boger spoke with Morning Edition host Noah Glick to share what that means.
Noah Glick: So, Paul, what is this deadline all about?
Paul Boger: So on Monday, lawmakers are facing their first real deadline. That is the deadline to get bill introductions through the assembly or through the Senate. So lawmakers have to bring up their bills in their chamber if they have any hope to make it through the session, if they have any hope of passing.
Leadership does have emergency bills. Those are bills that they can bring up later in the session that don't have to follow the rules; however, if it is a bill that is going to be brought up and discussed, if it is a regular policy measure from a normal lawmaker, it will have to be introduced by Monday, or else it is gone.
We have not seen the volume of bills this session that we have expected to see. Talking to lawmakers, they're still expecting quite a few more bills, and they have until Monday to get that done. So it may be a very, very busy start to the week next week.
Glick: So, while we're waiting for some of this legislation to come through, what are you keeping an eye on at this point?
Boger: There is plenty going on.
We have tiny house regulations. There is an affordable housing crisis here in Northern Nevada, in particular. So I'm interested to see how these tiny house regulations go.
Creating jury trials for misdemeanor domestic violence cases. That is a very complex issue that is only just now getting a hearing. I'm sure we’re going to talk about that more in the coming weeks.
Nevada is contemplating adding an equal rights amendment to the constitution. That looks like it's going to pass through the legislature easily and probably be on the ballot in 2022. So we'll see that again.
There's this measure that's been brought up this week to ban ticket quotas. You know, I'm sure at the end of the month, you have seen the long line of police cars along I-580 or on I-80 that are stopping people. There is a move to get rid of that. The assemblywoman who has introduced that is Rochelle Nguyen, and she calls those quotas “policing for profit.” She says that they incentivize officers to act confrontationally and unfairly target individuals.
This bill [would also] prohibit departments from considering the numbers of citations officers use in performance reviews or promotional decisions. So essentially, getting rid of those quotas and making sure that tickets aren't the centerpiece of policing.
Glick: That's interesting. So I guess, what do the police have to say about it?
Boger: You know, they're split.
The Las Vegas Metro Police Department says they have worries, [and] they're not sure if that will make sure that cops actually do their job of enforcing traffic. But the Nevada Police Union actually came out in support of it. They see it as a way to prevent police brutality.
I asked Assemblywoman Nguyen about that, and she says she's not sure if that's going to immediately happen, but she's hopeful.
Rochelle Nguyen: I don't think it's a solution that's going to fix all of our problems. We're not going to have some moment where we all come together, and we're holding hands, like this big trust circle that’s going to somehow erase hundreds of years of institutionalized racism, but I think we have to start somewhere.
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Glick: Now there's another bill that would increase the minimum wage for inmates in Nevada's prisons. I know you and I have talked about that piece of legislation before. Have we seen any other action on that bill?
Boger: We did. Senator Dina Neal of North Las Vegas presented SB140 to lawmakers this week. That measure would require inmates receive the minimum wage. Silver State Industries, which inmates work with, pay offenders anywhere from $0.25 to $5.15 an hour. The state's minimum wage is $9 an hour. Now a lot of the reason for that discrepancy is because of deductions. Inmates are required to pay a lot of these deductions, whether it's for commissary or healthcare, but under this bill, they would only be required to pay restitution to families and family support. Any money that they earn will be set aside for an offenders' release fund so that they'll have a pot of money that they can use to draw from once they're released.
Lawmakers see this as a way to reduce recidivism and it's actually been fairly well supported. Both Democrats and Republicans are voicing support for this bill. So I'm sure this is not the last time we'll talk about it, but this is going to be a bill that's going to be brought up again.
Glick: Just quickly, Paul, in the limited time we have left, I wanted to touch real quick on the newest round of federal COVID relief money under the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan. Nevada is supposed to get upwards of $4.5 billion to be split between governments. So do you have any sense yet of how that money will be used?
Boger: Not yet. What we're waiting on right now is for feds to create guidance on what states and municipalities can use that money for. It's going to depend on how fast the feds can get the money to the state, and it's actually gonna matter where the money goes. The money went to the governor's office, all that CARES Act money went to the governor, and that created issues because lawmakers simply didn't have an account to accept the money. So it's very possible we're going to be talking about this in a special session. I talked to Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton about it, and this is what she had to say.
Maggie Carlton: I would love to be able to try to address every single issue. I think we're going to have a list of priorities that we're going to have to work through. We're going to work with the Senate, with the governor's office to figure out where do we go from here, but a lot of it's going to depend on that guidance and what we have to go through in order to be able to spend [the money].
Glick: Well, lots to follow as we continue on here. Paul, thank you so much for your time and for joining us here.
KUNR's Jayden Perez adapted this story for the web.