By April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current, June 5, 2023
Gov. Joe Lombardo’s K-12 omnibus education bill on the penultimate day of the session began progressing through the Nevada State Legislature — a sign that the Republican governor and legislative Democrats may be inching toward a deal to finish off this year’s 120-day political slugfest.
Democrats on Sunday amended into Lombardo’s Assembly Bill 400 provisions that would allow cities and municipalities to sponsor charter schools and help fund transportation services at charter schools. Lawmakers then advanced the bill out of the Assembly on a 41-0 vote, with Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe Moreno (D-North Las Vegas) excused.
The charter school provisions had been removed by Democrats from AB 400 last week, along with other provisions that would vastly expand Nevada’s quasi-voucher program (known as Opportunity Scholarships) and established open zoning at school districts. Democrats this legislative session have said they are not interested in advancing Lombardo’s “school choice” agenda, which includes additional financial support for charter and private schools.
But Democrats will have to give Lombardo something because he has veto power over two budget bills that need to be passed into law before the end this month in order to avoid a potential shutdown. One of those budget bills, known as the Appropriations Act, was first introduced as Assembly Bill 520, passed by Democrats and vetoed by Lombardo last week.
Democrats reintroduced an identical Appropriations Act as Senate Bill 511.
The other remaining budget bill, Assembly Bill 521, known as the Capital Improvement Projects, also needs to pass the legislature before sine die on Monday. It will need to pass with a two-thirds majority because it involves renewing an existing tax. Democrats have a supermajority in the Assembly but are one shy of it in the Senate, meaning they will need the support of one Republican.
If the remaining budget bills are not passed and become law, the Legislature will be forced to convene a special session before the end of the month or risk a government shutdown.
Beyond the constitutionally mandated budget bills, several other high-profile bills now have less than 24 hours to pass the legislature and make it to the governor’s desk for action.
- OAKLAND A’S STADIUM:Senate Bill 509 would approve $380 million in public assistance for the construction of a new baseball stadium to house the Oakland’s A’s. The proposed deal involves $180 million in transferable tax credits and $120 million in county bonds, among other incentives. The bill received two joint committee hearings but has not yet been voted out. Democratic leaders last month as budget negotiations ramped up said they would not advance a public subsidy bill without ensuring the state budget was funded.
- HOMELESS CAMPUS:Assembly Bill 528 is a gaming industry-backed proposal to create a $100 matching fund to support the development of a regional homelessness campus serving Southern Nevada. It was introduced just days ago, quickly received a committee hearing and has already been voted on by the Assembly. That vote was 40-1, with only Republican Assemblyman Rich DeLong opposing and Assemblywoman Danielle Monroe-Moreno excused. The bill still needs to get through the Senate and governor, but comments made during the hearing suggest Senate Majority Leader Nicole Gannizzaro and Lombardo were both part of negotiations prior to the bill’s introduction and adoption is widely expected.
- FILM TAX CREDIT:Senate Bill 496 would vastly expand the state’s existing film tax credit program. It involves two proposed film studios in the southwest part of the Las Vegas Valley — one backed by Summerlin-creator Howard Hughes Corp. and Sony Pictures Entertainment, the other by Birtcher Development and UNLV. Altogether the estimated cost to taxpayers is an unprecedented $4 billion over two decades. SB 496 is currently in the Senate Finance committee.
- ARPA MONEY:Assembly Bill 526, a bill that establishes a method for automatic doling out of any leftover American Rescue Plan Act money before it would revert back to the federal government. The bill passed the Assembly unanimously and is headed to the Senate for consideration.
Notable weekend vetoes
Senate Bill 429, sponsored by state Sen. Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas), would have required employers receiving tax abatements from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to offer paid family and medical leave. The requirement aligned with provisions of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides 12-weeks of unpaid job protection for workers at businesses with more than 50 employees.
In his veto message, Lombardo said the bill “would put Nevada at a severe disadvantage in its work to bring desirable businesses within its borders.” He also noted that businesses of that size are “already required to provide employees with paid leave,” referencing a 2019 bill that established a minimum mandatory paid time off accrual equivalent to earning 40 hours of paid time off after one year of full time work.
Senate Bill 302, sponsored by state Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas), would have protected medical providers from discipline or retaliation for providing gender-affirming care. While the bill language was similar to Senate Bill 131, a bill the governor did sign that provided similar protections for abortion providers, Lombardo vetoed on the grounds that it “inhibits the executive branch’s ability to be certain that all gender-affirming care related to minors comports with state law.”
As of late Sunday, Lombardo had vetoed 30 bills, with more than five dozen bills listed as being on his desk awaiting action.