It’s Day 64 of the 80th Session of the Nevada State Legislature, and the next deadline facing lawmakers arrives Friday, April 12 when all non-exempt bills must pass out of their Committee of Origin.
Last week featured lengthy hearings on a couple of bills RPEN is tracking, Senate Bill 135 would give all state employees the right of Collective Bargaining and Senate Bill 287 is a Public Records bill promoted by the Nevada Press Association as well as the Nevada Policy Research Institute but opposed by many local governments as well as the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS).
SB 287 was heard for the first time on Wednesday, April 3, before the Senate Government Affairs Committee chaired by Bill Sponsor Senator David Parks. Proponents of the bill said it would make for a more efficient process as well as make it more responsive. They also said SB 287 would promote democracy, transparency and accountability while also prohibiting governmental agencies from trying to recoup overhead and per page copy costs. Opponents objected to language in the bill calling for fees to be set by judges as low as $1000 or as high as $250-thousand. In all there were 13 comments made in favor of the bill and 22 comments made against it. Additionally there were 12 fiscal notes attached to the bill from assorted governmental agencies. The committee took no action after over 3 hours of testimony.
SB 135 is among four issues being supported by the Legislative Agenda set by RPEN’s Legislative/Insurance Committee and was heard Thursday night, April 4. The hearing was scheduled to begin at 6:30pm, due to the fact that it impacts current state employees still working however it didn’t start until after 7pm and lasted well into the evening. It was attended by 100+ members of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) in Carson City and Las Vegas, where it was also video-conferenced. Senator Parks opened the hearing saying state employees in Nevada are the only public employees who don’t have the right to collective bargaining. He said they are drastically underpaid compared to employees in the city and county government workforces. Senator Ben Kieckhefer (Reno) questioned how underpaid state employees actually are while saying he represented a lot of state workers in his district. Senator James Ohrenschall (Las Vegas) called the hearing a historic moment. More than two dozen attendees spoke in favor of the bill while the Nevada Policy Research Institute included a document saying collective bargaining for state workers would cost the state $500-million per year! In his State of the State Address in January Governor Steve Sisolak said he favored giving state employee’s collective bargaining, citing pay cuts and furloughs they have faced in recent years due to the state’s economic downturn following the 2008 recession. Immediately after the hearing on SB 135 the Senate Government Affairs Committee also heard another budget bill SB 459 that seeks to provide collective bargaining by certain state employees and is sponsored by the Nevada Faculty Alliance, led by their Lobbyist Kent Ervin.
RPEN’s Privacy Bill SB 224 remains on the Secretary’s Desk in the Senate where it was moved last week pending amendments. There is no additional information available regarding any possible amendments.
In all RPEN through our Lead Lobbyist/Legislative Advocate Marlene Lockard is tracking 32 bills involving identity theft/privacy, elder abuse, and other healthcare related issues including the high cost of pharmaceutical drugs.
Terri Laird, RPEN Executive Director