Updating the Nevada Policy Tracker: A guide to key issues in the 2023 legislative session

18 March 2023

For the first time since the 2017 session, a Legislature led by a Democratic majority is working alongside a Republican governor to set policy for Nevadans. The Nevada Independent is tracking key pieces of legislation and policy debates on this page.

Scroll through the cards below to find out the status of important bills and what effects they could have on the lives of Nevadans, and use the drop down menu to filter the tracker by subject area. 

Read further below for a summary of the most interesting storylines in the Legislature this year, and how discussions are playing out across different policy areas. These issue overviews were first published on Feb. 2, and updated on March 17.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Gov. Joe Lombardo’s State of the State address made big promises to colleges and universities, including $75 million to restore funding for higher education to pre-COVID levels, $20 million to boost graduate student stipends and higher new graduate assistants and $5 million for a new study that could overhaul Nevada’s decade-old funding formula.  

Higher education faculty also remain “optimistic” over AB224, a bill that would place NSHE professional employees under the same collective bargaining structure as other state employees. NSHE has signaled potential opposition, however, arguing the language infringes on its constitutional authority. 

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee also cut thousands of NSHE employees out of an initial round of bonuses for state employees meant to boost retention rates, the first round of bonuses being fast-tracked through the Legislature in order to meet fiscal-year deadlines.

Student groups could also see a variety of new tuition and fee waivers. That includes the expansion of a fee waiver for Native American students, another expansion of fee waivers for homeless students, as well as in-state tuition waivers for children of Purple Heart recipients and for DACA recipients. Students have also backed AB212, a bill that would ease access to college and university transcripts for students with outstanding debt to their institutions. 

Legislators will also hear a bill to rename Nevada State College to Nevada State University with SB273, one of several steps in a name change that could be complete by July. 

Lawmakers have yet to make a final judgment on SJR7, a 2021 resolution that, if passed, would allow voters in 2024 to decide whether or not the Board of Regents will stay in the state Constitution (again). 

Separately, legislators are seeking to reduce the size of the Board of Regents from 13 to nine, as well as drop the length of regents’ terms from six years to four, with AB118. It’s an echo of a similar effort from 2019, though one that keeps all regents elected, rather than attempting the creation of a mixed elected-appointed board.  

HEALTH CARE 

Yet again, health care is shaping up to be an important — and sometimes contentious — topic for legislators. 

During the 2021 legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) spearheaded an effort to create a state-run public health insurance option, making Nevada the second state in the country, after Washington, to enact such a law. But its successful implementation could face hurdles in the form of opposition from Gov. Joe Lombardo, who called it “bullshit” on the campaign trail.

There is bipartisan support for improving Nevada’s worst-in-the nation ranking for mental health.

In his proposed budget, Lombardo laid out plans for Medicaid reimbursement rate increases for physicians, dentists and nursing homes, services to people with disabilities and certified behavioral health centers.

Conversations surrounding abortion rights are also swirling as Cannizzaro unveiled SB131 in February, a measure seeking to codify former Gov. Steve Sisolak’s executive order protecting out-of-state abortion seekers in Nevada and those providing reproductive care, regardless of other state policies. 

The legislation will likely be the first significant test of Lombardo’s stance on abortion, which shifted throughout the election cycle. So far, Lombardo has signaled he would sign the measure as long as it remains a “clean bill.”

Perhaps the most significant problem facing the Legislature is the state’s health care provider shortage. Estimates hold that Nevada would need more than 4,000 new registered nurses to meet the national RN-to-population average and that roughly two out of every three Nevadans live in an area with a shortage of primary health care providers. 

Lawmakers are considering options to have the state join a variety of licensure compacts that would allow certain health care providers who hold a multistate license to work in Nevada.

Democrats have also indicated they remain focused on health care affordability. AB250, proposed by Assemblywoman Venicia Considine (D-Las Vegas), would make it so the Medicare-negotiated price of a prescription drug would be the set price of that drug for the rest of the state, regardless of a Nevadan’s insurance. That could lower the price of insulin, which Medicare has capped at $35 for a one-month supply. 

Lawmakers are also seeking to legalize medical aid in dying and grant those with a terminal illness greater access to experimental therapies.

K-12 EDUCATION

School funding and teacher raises are two of the biggest K-12 education priorities for Nevada lawmakers. 

During his first State of State address in January, Gov. Joe Lombardo pledged a $2 billion increase in education spending over the biennium. That would raise per-pupil spending from roughly $10,290 to $12,406. It would also fully fund so-called weights, a multiplier of the statewide base per-pupil funding that provides extra money for students learning English as a second language and those who come from low-income families.

Last month, lawmakers demanded school districts detail how they will use the additional funds they are expected to receive to improve student achievement, following a push from the Clark County Education Association (CCEA). 

Earlier this month, Democratic leaders introduced a bill, SB231, that would set up a $250 million matching fund for districts that give raises for their employees. The bill has been welcomed by CCEA, but the statewide teachers union, the Nevada State Education Association, is pushing for bigger raises.  

Meanwhile, Lombardo is advocating for lawmakers to use a portion of $70 million that was recently added to the State Education Fund (through a change in scheduled mining tax payments) to allocate funding for charter school transportation. Charter school officials say this would help them diversify their student populations. 

Also top of mind for Lombardo and lawmakers are school safety issues. Lawmakers are working on three bills that would make changes to the 2019 school restorative justice bill, AB168, that critics (including Lombardo and teacher union groups) say have made it difficult for school officials to discipline students thus jeopardizing the safety of teachers and other students. 

Two of the bills heard this month in an Assembly education meeting (AB285 and A194) would loosen up some of the limitations on exclusionary discipline practice, such as out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, and remove certain requirements that schools needed to complete under existing law before suspending or expelling a student. A third bill by GOP lawmakers (SB152) also making changes to the 2019 law has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. 

Two bills introduced this month are reviving debates that have previously been unsuccessful in the Legislature. The first is a bill by Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) that would add cameras in certain classrooms with students that receive special education services. Another bill would add appointed, nonvoting seats to the Clark and Washoe county school boards, but it received strong opposition during a March 9 meeting. 

Lawmakers are also working on changes that give students the right to wear regalia of cultural or religious significance to their high school graduations. Debates on bringing back provisions to hold back students who aren’t reading at grade level, funding for Opportunity Scholarships and efforts to increase teacher pipeline are still to come later in the session.

ENVIRONMENT 

Water is emerging as a top issue in the legislative session, with numerous proposals stemming from the Colorado River crisis to the overuse of groundwater from aquifers across Nevada. 

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is pushing legislation, AB220, to reduce water lost to septic systems and give the agency power to curb excessive water use when federal officials declare a shortage. The bill would also help regulate groundwater in the Las Vegas Valley.

Other bills seek to address issues in groundwater basins where there are more rights to use water than there is water to go around. In response to a Supreme Court ruling last summer, SB113 clarifies statutory language to require that groundwater management plans receive support from priority water rights users. Another bill, SB176, would create a program to retire water rights.

Water users have also been negotiating guidance to better reflect the scientific knowledge that groundwater pumping can reduce the amount of water that flows through streams (currently, groundwater and surface water are managed separately). 

Lawmakers are also weighing several pieces of legislation dealing with climate change and the energy transition, including provisions curbing emissions from buildings and creating incentives for electric vehicles. Another bill aims to lay out a planning process for natural gas infrastructure through the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada — a major flashpoint in the last session. 

Three bill drafts are centered around environmental justice — addressing the disproportionate harms that pollution has on underrepresented communities. AJR3, a proposed amendment to the Nevada Constitution, would enshrine a right to clean air and water. Other bills, including AB71, would direct the state to conduct an environmental justice study and address protections for workers in extreme heat.

AB112 would establish a fund for wildlife crossings, and AB221 would authorize the Nevada Department of Wildlife to manage insect species of conservation concern as “wildlife.”

TRIBAL NATIONS

This session, Indigenous leaders are hoping to facilitate more engagement between lawmakers and tribal communities.

SB94 would require each state agency to employ a tribal liaison who reports directly to the office of the head of the state agency. 

Advocates are also pushing for AB73, a bill that would establish the right of public school students to wear traditional tribal regalia or other recognized objects of cultural or religious significance at school graduation ceremonies. 

Though no bill language has arrived, advocates are also calling for additional funding to construct a new Owyhee Combined School on the Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Indian Reservation, because the current building sits adjacent to toxic hydrocarbon plumes under the town.

There’s also a push for a measure that would seek better records on missing and murdered indigenous people in the form of AB125, sponsored by Assemblywoman Shea Backus (D-Las Vegas). The bill would require local law enforcement agencies to accept reports of adults who are missing under suspicious circumstances from a Native American reservation or colony, and enter that information into national databases. 

Members of Nevada tribes could also soon have free annual access to state parks and recreational areas under AB84, a bill proposed by Assemblyman Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas). 

During the 2021 legislative session, Assemblywoman Natha Anderson (D-Sparks) sponsored a bill offering tuition waivers for Native American students. This session, she’s bringing forward AB150, which would expand the tuition waiver for Native Americans to include summer and winter semesters and people who are newer to the state.

LGBTQ ISSUES

As states across the country advance anti-LGBTQ legislation, including banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors and adults and making it illegal to perform in drag in public spaces, Nevada lawmakers are looking to move in the opposite direction.

One of those comes in the form of SB163, a law proposed by Sen. Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas) that would require health insurance companies to cover treatment of conditions relating to gender dysphoria that had previously been exempted and classified as “cosmetic.”

Schieble is also bringing forward SB153, a bill to require gender-affirming health care and housing for transgender prisoners in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections.

This session, the Legislature welcomes its first-ever LGBTQ caucus chaired by Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas) who said in a press release that the caucus’ goal is to “send the message to LGBTQ+ Nevadans that you are welcome, safe, and represented here.” 

Harris also sponsored SB172, a bill that would allow a minor to consent to receive services that would prevent a sexually transmitted disease, including access to contraception, without parental notification. 

Forthcoming legislation may include a bill to protect providers and out-of-state residents seeking gender-affirming treatments in Nevada.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE 

During the 2019 and 2021 legislative sessions, Democratic lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak enacted major criminal justice reforms, including reduced sentences for low-level crimes, increased access to diversion programs and decriminalization of traffic tickets, as well as policing reforms, such as banning chokeholds.

Though Gov. Joe Lombardo criticized Sisolak’s criminal justice policies as “soft on crime,” Democratic majorities in the Legislature will likely prevent Lombardo from rolling back the recent reforms entirely.

With a former sheriff now in the governor’s mansion, further reforms that increase strictures on police are likely to be sidelined this session. But recent crime trends — including rising numbers of fentanyl deaths and catalytic converter thefts —  may prove to be grounds for compromise across the political aisle as law enforcement pushes to increase penalties for those crimes. 

Those issues could draw significant backlash from advocates who worry about the negative effects of overcriminalization. For example, negotiations over penalties will be necessary on  fentanyl legislation. Lombardo has pushed for increased criminalization of possession of any amount of the drug, while the attorney general’s office is seeking a bill focused on increasing penalties for trafficking larger quantities of the drug.

But almost a third of the way through the session, criminalization for possession has not become a significant talking point and the governor’s proposals have yet to be heard.

Other discussions of criminal justice policy have covered sexual and domestic violence. Lawmakers have introduced several bills meant to strengthen protections for children targeted by sex trafficking, including a measure that would target school employees sexting with or luring students.

Advocates are also pushing to strengthen Nevada’s laws against domestic battery by strangulation and measures aimed at improving services for crime victims.

Lombardo is also seeking raises for state public safety employees — above what he is proposing for other state employees — as public safety agencies, including the Department of Corrections, face high staffing vacancies and significantly lower pay than their local counterparts.

GAMING 

The gaming industry is waiting to see the language of a resolution paving the way for a state-sponsored lottery through constitutional amendment — though top industry players, including the Nevada Resort Association, have remained steadfast in opposition to a state lottery that they say could draw business away from gaming. The forthcoming resolution, sponsored by Assemblyman C.H. Miller (D-North Las Vegas), would repeal a constitutional ban on lotteries and direct revenues toward youth mental health programs. 

Nevada’s casino operators are split on whether the state should legalize online casino gaming, but it’s highly unlikely lawmakers will consider the issue because it’s not a priority of the industry nor the governor’s administration, according to gaming insiders.

Many gaming operators worry that online casinos could keep customers away from their properties. The same logic is being used in the argument against any changes in state law that would allow remote registration for mobile sports betting. In Nevada, customers must sign up in person for a mobile wagering account at a sportsbook.

Even with in-person registration requirements, mobile sports betting accounts for 65 percent to 70 percent of all wagers on a monthly basis, according to the control board.

Nevada legalized online poker in 2013 but only one casino operator, Caesars Entertainment, operates a site, which is themed after the company’s World Series of Poker. Nevada is part of a multistate agreement with New Jersey, Delaware and Michigan.

In his State of the State address, Gov. Joe Lombardo referred to gaming only in passing, suggesting the Gaming Control Board’s test lab should speed the approval process for new slot machines and other equipment.

The Gaming Control Board scheduled a March workshop to discuss Nevada’s gaming technology approval process. 

“He used the word ‘logjam.’ If that’s a word coming out of the governor’s mouth, that gets my attention,” board Chairman Kirk Hendrick told The Nevada Independent

Although Lombardo proposed repealing the Culinary Union-backed SB4, a pandemic-focused law that imposed mandatory hotel room cleaning protocols and time-off requirements for full-time employees, any effort to do so will be met with opposition by the labor organization. That proposal has not come with specific legislation ahead of a pair of March deadlines for bill introductions.

“It already has a built-in sunset when COVID rates go down,” Culinary spokeswoman Bethany Khan tweeted during Lombardo’s speech.

ELECTIONS

Gov. Joe Lombardo wants to roll back the sweeping changes Democratic lawmakers and former Gov. Steve Sisolak made to the state’s election processes over the past four years. Lombardo hopes to end universal mail-in voting, move up the deadline to submit ballots and require people to show identification to vote.

A bill from the governor’s office making those changes has not been introduced as of mid-March, less than two weeks before the bill introduction deadline, but Democratic leaders in the Legislature have said they will not accept changes that limit access to voting. Democrats have also signaled no intention to process legislation requiring voter ID, though Republican lawmakers have introduced multiple bills to do so.

After Nevada was nationally panned for its slow rollout of complete election results in 2020 and 2022, Lombardo and Republican lawmakers want to set earlier deadlines for voters to submit mail ballots — they want to ensure mail ballots are received by Election Day; existing law just requires ballots to be postmarked by Election Day — to ensure counting is completed sooner. Democrats are unlikely to accept Lombardo’s proposal.

Advocacy groups are also likely to seek expanded access by ensuring election materials are available in more languages.

Newly elected Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar is also seeking a bill to enhance protections for election workers who have faced a rising level of hostility and violence since the 2020 election. Legislation originally requested by former Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske seeks to establish a standard procedure manual for local election workers. 

Lombardo and Democratic leaders could also clash over the governor’s proposal to establish an  independent, nonpartisan commission to oversee redistricting. Democrats controlled the process in 2021 and picked up additional legislative seats in the following election while maintaining their hold over three of Nevada’s four congressional districts. A previous attempt to establish an independent redistricting commission through a ballot question faced opposition from a progressive-linked group. Assemblyman Gregory Hafen (R-Pahrump) has introduced a resolution this session to amend the constitution to establish such a commission.

TAX POLICY

After promising no tax increases on the campaign trail, Gov. Joe Lombardo is seeking several tax reductions, including proposals to temporarily suspend the state’s gas tax — a 23-cent-per-gallon levy on all motor fuel that drivers pay when fueling up at gas stations — and to raise the threshold at which the Commerce Tax kicks in from $4 million in gross business revenue a year to $6 million. These have not come forward as bills ahead of a deadline to introduce legislation in late March.

Democrats have said they hope to ensure major oil companies do not respond to the one-year tax holiday by increasing profits and preventing the tax savings from being passed to motorists at the pump.

Attempts to impose new taxes are unlikely to pass out of the Legislature or receive approval from Lombardo as the state’s tax revenues have ballooned in the past two years. Since Nevada’s economy began its rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, surging inflation and consumer spending have contributed to a massive $1.9 billion surplus and a more than $2 billion increase in the state general fund budget.

The surge in revenue also has triggered an automatic reduction to the Modified Business Tax rate, which applies to wages businesses pay workers. The reduction, required by state law, cuts the rate from 1.378 percent to 1.17 percent for general businesses. Pro-business groups have supported the reduction and change to the Commerce Tax as ways to lower the cost of doing business.

Lawmakers are also considering potential changes to property tax rates, with a particular focus on how those changes could affect housing affordability. In March, lawmakers heard a bill that would raise real property transfer taxes to boost the supply of supportive housing for people with disabilities or mental illness, but the measure has drawn opposition from the politically powerful Nevada Realtors.

Another bill, SB96, would create a 3 percent floor to the existing 3 percent cap on annual property tax fluctuations, but increases in the tax rate (up to 8 percent) would not kick in unless the national annual inflation rate dropped below 1.5 percent. Though meant to stabilize revenues for local governments reliant on property taxes, the measure faces opposition from Nevada Republicans, who have criticized it for raising the tax rate floor.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

One month into the session, Tesla’s planned multibillion-dollar expansion of its Nevada Gigafactory has become a focal point of economic development discussions, with some Democratic lawmakers sparring with the governor’s office over a 2014 law that allowed Tesla to once again secure hundreds of millions of dollars in tax abatements.

Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) said she plans to bring forward a bill that would grant lawmakers more power over the tax abatement process, pulling that power away from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The push for new manufacturing jobs and business expansion comes as Gov. Joe Lombardo has pushed to accelerate the process of economic growth, declaring in his State of the State address that “Nevada should be the most entrepreneurial-friendly state in the nation.”

His plan centers on streamlining regulations and reducing burdens on businesses operating in the state — including an executive order that called for a pause on new regulations and cuts to existing regulations across all state agencies. Lombardo’s proposed budget includes more funding for workforce training, and he is seeking the creation of the Office of Workforce to align workforce development efforts happening in multiple state agencies, public schools and higher education entities.

Debates are also likely to surface over tax credits, including proposed changes to film tax credits tied to a potential push to make Las Vegas a “Hollywood 2.0” and increased tax credits for those who donate to certain educational and workforce programs. 

Amid a shift in Nevada’s workforce since the start of the pandemic — more early retirements and a decline in the labor force participation rate — businesses are seeking more favorable conditions to attract workers, including greater availability of child care and affordable housing.

Look for discussions on health care and housing to affect Nevada’s pursuit of more workers and workforce development pipeline. A proposal from the treasurer’s office that is supported by the governor’s office would allocate funds to the State Infrastructure Bank to support the development of “workforce housing,” which could be used by major companies with large employee populations in the state.

CHILDREN ISSUES

Democratic lawmakers are backing SB232, which would require Nevada’s Medicaid program to cover postpartum care services for 12 months following the end of pregnancy. That can include a checkup within three weeks after a pregnancy ends, screening for pelvic floor disorders and postpartum depression, and care after a miscarriage.

Diapers might be cheaper and foster families paid more under separate proposals for the legislative session. Baby’s Bounty, a local nonprofit that donates necessities for infants to families, wants to present a bill to remove the sales tax on diapers. 

Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) introduced SB137, which would require Nevada Medicaid to cover donor breast milk for certain babies, including preemies or others with conditions that affect digestion.

Democratic Treasurer Zach Conine wants to create a “Baby Bonds” program for children whose birth was covered by Medicaid in an effort to lift them from poverty. Each year, under Conine’s AB28, a group of eligible children would begin with an investment portfolio of $3,200 each and accrue dollars over time with state investments until age 18, which they could use for expenditures such as buying a home or starting a business.

Legislators are also seeking to crack down on school employees or volunteers who have inappropriate relationships with students. SB38 would create a crime called “luring a pupil,” barring people from knowingly contacting a student with the intent to cause or encourage sexual conduct or a crime.

Children in child welfare or juvenile justice settings statewide could be screened for commercial sexual exploitation under AB183. The bill, which would be used along with drug, alcohol and mental health screenings, would expand a screening that is used in Clark and Washoe counties to all other counties. 

Another bill, AB137, would change the term “fetal alcohol syndrome” in statute to “fetal alcohol spectrum disorder” to expand research, teaching and data collection of the range of disorders associated with a baby being introduced to alcohol before birth. 

The Children’s Advocacy Alliance is seeking “restorative” policies that focus on expanding daycare offerings in Nevada by increasing access to subsidies and overriding HOA bans on home daycares. The organization also supports reducing class sizes and creating an Office of Early Childhood Systems within the governor’s office. 

Assemblywoman Claire Thomas (D-North Las Vegas) is sponsoring the bill, AB113, that would create the new office focused on pre-K programs, which are daily classes for children 3 to 5 years old.

CANNABIS

The sale and regulation of cannabis in Nevada could be altered under several proposals under consideration in the legislative session.

The Nevada Cannabis Association is backing SB195, which would end “time and effort billing” — a practice cannabis businesses say has hit them with hefty bills for routine regulatory tasks. The CCB has been charging hourly rates of up to $111 for state worker tasks such as reviewing security footage, travel time, communicating with licensees, inspections and audits. The bill would also cap noncompliance fees at $20,000 per violation.

Assemblyman Reuben D’Silva (D-Las Vegas) plans to carry a bill to remove the State Board of Pharmacy’s authority over cannabis. A court ruled last year against the Pharmacy Board’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 prohibited substance, but the pharmacy board appealed the decision

AB253 from Assemblyman C.H. Miller (D-North Las Vegas) would create a “mobile cannabis concierge license” so small vendors could operate mobile cannabis lounges at licensed cannabis events. A similar policy for allowing cannabis at events failed last session.

Sierra Cannabis Coalition is seeking legislation on behalf of cultivation licensees that would implement a change to cannabis wholesale taxes. Using California’s system, the coalition wants to lower taxes for cultivators by removing the excise tax on wholesale transactions and replacing the revenue by moving the excise tax to cannabis retail sales. 

Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas) is sponsoring a bill, SB277, to increase daily purchase limits of THC products from 1 ounce to 2 ounces and reinstate cannabis agent card eligibility for people with past cannabis convictions.

The Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) is seeking a number of changes to the state’s marijuana laws, including allowing cannabis dispensaries to move to a new location outside their current jurisdiction in certain circumstances through SB31. Existing law limits licensees’ moves to new locations only within their current jurisdiction. 

The board is also seeking to change disciplinary processes. It would task the executive director of the CCB, rather than the board, with deciding whether disciplinary action against a licensee or registrant should follow an investigation by the attorney general. 

The No.1 referral at Washoe County Juvenile Services is for felony possession of cannabis after children have been found with concentrated cannabis pens at schools. AB170, sponsored by Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D-North Las Vegas), would add concentrated cannabis to the definition of marijuana to remove cannabis pens from the felony drug list. 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT 

Cities are moving to change their charters and county commissioners are seeking more power over pay this session.

So far, Reno has attempted to preserve the at-large seat on the city council through SB12 rather than adopt a sixth ward and North Las Vegas is trying to add two wards to its city through SB184, bringing the total to six. 

The Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) is supportive of SB51, a bill that would implement gradual raises for county commissioners.

NACO also supports SB20 — a bill that would allow county commissioners to appoint members, a power that is currently reserved for the governor. However, Sen. Skip Daly (D-Sparks) and Sen. Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka) want to ensure commission appointments were transparent and accessible to the public, particularly in rural communities where commissions can be as small as three people.

NACO brought SB22, which would allow local governments to post legal notices online rather than in a regularly circulating print newspaper. The Nevada Press Association testified in opposition on March 1, wanting to ensure if legal notices were allowed to be posted online that there would also be a printed component for physical records.

Lawmakers are considering SB41, a bill requiring agencies receiving the funds for child welfare to describe the agency’s goals for the biennium then report whether the goals were met and require lawmakers to study child welfare funding and the decreases in Medicaid reimbursements and suggest solutions. 

Two other bills that are moving through the legislative process are SB20, which would update the population thresholds for counties to either combine or disburse county department responsibilities, and AB47, which would allow counties to establish Off Highway Vehicles trail networks near highways. 

HOUSING

Lawmakers this session are again faced with decisions on how to balance tenants’ rights and protections with landlords’ freedoms.

As advocates urged lawmakers to revisit tenant protections that didn’t pass last session, Sen. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas) is sponsoring SB78, which would require landlords to disclose fees and prevent them from turning over tenant debt to collections or a credit reporting agency “unless the landlord obtains a judgment against the tenant for any such amount.”

The bill earned numerous testimonies in support from members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In a poll conducted in December 2022, the cost of living, housing affordability and the cost of rent were among the top concerns for Black Nevadans.

People with a criminal, conviction or arrest record could be protected against background checks when applying for a lease, with the only exception being those who have committed sexual assault or violent assault within the last five years if SB143 passes.

“If [formerly incarcerated people are] less than, then call it out for what it is and don’t let them out. But if you have decided that they’re an equal human being just like you and me, then you better start giving them the same rights and treating them as if they are regular citizens,” Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas), the bill’s sponsor, said during a hearing March 8.

Although Gov. Joe Lombardo pledged to not raise taxes, lawmakers are considering SB68, which proposes more funding for supportive housing across the state by raising the real property transfer tax by 20 cents statewide. Though SB68 earned an hour of testimonies in support, Nevada Realtors testified in opposition, saying the bill would hurt first-time homebuyers.

Lawmakers are also considering adopting The Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights into state law. Initially a bill that gave an unhoused person the right to “use and move freely in or on public places including, without limitation, public sidewalks, government buildings, public parks and public transportation vehicles” — a statement that contradicts with some county laws — was amended by the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas), to include language that an unhoused person could only move freely in public spaces to the extent of any other Nevadan. 

IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES 

As one in four Nevada workers is an immigrant, policies affecting immigrant communities can have broad impact.

State Sen. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas), along with colleagues in the Latino Legislative Caucus, are backing a proposal to expand Medicaid to Nevadans regardless of citizenship or immigration status

According to a 2019 Guinn Center report on uninsured populations in Nevada, an estimated 210,000 Nevada residents (about 7 percent of the state population) were “unauthorized immigrants,” or undocumented, in 2017. An estimated 94,500 of them do not have health insurance. Medicaid provides health care to low-income individuals and covers more than 900,000 Nevadans.

Doñate is also sponsoring SB92, which would establish regulations at the state level for sidewalk vendors, including requiring certain licenses and permits, without the need for a state-issued ID or driver’s license.

The bill also would require a local health entity to adopt regulations for sidewalk vendors who sell food and create the Task Force on Safe Sidewalk Vending to have uniformity across the state and treat street vendors more like other small businesses. 

An amendment to the bill would allow county commissioners to restrict or prohibit sidewalk vendors from operating within a set distance of a food establishment, a child care facility, election polling place, recreational facility, convention center or designated entertainment district, among others. 

Assemblyman Reuben D’Silva (D-Las Vegas) is sponsoring AB226, which would allow recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to qualify for in-state tuition after living in the state for 12 months. 

The assemblyman said in a tweet that current Nevada law does not allow DACA recipients moving from out-of-state to be eligible for in-state tuition even after living in the state for at least a year. Although DACA recipients who graduate from a Nevada high school would receive in-state tuition. 

Another bill before lawmakers, AB30, would remove U.S. citizenship as a requirement to become a peace officer as long as the person is “legally authorized to work in the U.S.” The measure was requested by the City of North Las Vegas. In Nevada law, peace officers can be police officers, security guards and court bailiffs.

Gov. Joe Lombardo told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in January that he would not support the bill.  

The post Updating the Nevada Policy Tracker: A guide to key issues in the 2023 legislative session appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

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