Nevada lawmakers work over final weekend in session
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers passed a key education budget bill and advanced a variety of policy measures Sunday as they moved closer to the end of session.
The biennial session ends Monday at midnight and lawmakers are expected to work up to the stroke of midnight as they work through dozens of bills.
Here are some of the highlights from Sunday’s work at the Legislature:
EDUCATION FUNDING BILL
Both chambers unanimously passed a bill that outlines K-12 education funding for the next biennium.
The measure must receive approval from Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak before becoming law.
The bill proposes an average basic support guarantee of $6,218 per pupil for next year’s budget, an increase of just over 4% from the current rate. The bill marks the 2021 figure at $6,288.
The measure allocates $62.9 million for the Read by Grade 3 program and about $327.2 million for a class-size reduction program.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE BILL
A last-minute campaign finance bill cleared its first legislative hurdle.
The measure, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, requires labor unions, corporations and other organizations making at least $10,000 in donations a year to report every contribution of $100 or more they make.
The legislation also bars public officials from paying themselves a salary with campaign funds. The measure comes months after former Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson resigned on the Senate floor, announcing he took campaign funds for personal use. He later pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud.
State workers who’ve been fighting decades for the right to collectively bargain are close to seeing that become a reality.
The Assembly approved the measure, clearing it to head to Sisolak’s desk. The governor called for the bill in his State of the State address and is expected to sign it. Union supporters argued the bill would lead to improved services, less turnover and better working conditions.
Opponents say the measure could be costly and make it difficult to budget. The bill would cover prison guards, janitors, secretaries and other workers, but teachers would not be included and the measure would not permit a strike.
RAISING SMOKING AGE
The Nevada Assembly passed a bill to raise the age for adults to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 18 up to 21. Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler’s bill was introduced Sunday, the day before lawmakers adjourn for two years. It was passed overwhelmingly by the Assembly and sent to the Senate for consideration.
The bill makes an exception for members of the military, leaving the smoking age at 18. Wheeler said those military members would be able to present their military I.D. when purchasing tobacco products. If the bill is passed before midnight Monday and approved by the governor, the law would not take effect until July 2021 -- after the next legislative session.