Sine die arrived a little past midnight for the 80th Session of the Nevada State Legislature. This means this will be the final Legislative Alert you’ll read here relating to the just ended Session.
The last couple of days’ lawmakers spent most of their time handling appropriation bills to cover the high cost of education in the state that ranks very low on the quality of education Nevada children in grades K-12 receive statewide. But it seems every Session in recent memory concludes with the same frantic pace to fund education at a level to improve the state’s rankings, and this Session was no exception.
But a couple of other bills we mentioned in our last Legislative Alert also made an astounding race to the finish, Senate Bill 135, the Collective Bargaining bill for State Workers (some 20 thousand of them) and Senate Bill 287, the Public Records Reform bill that was amended substantially before being approved in both houses.
SB 135 roared to the front of Senate Finance four days before June 4 following amendments from the Governor, who wanted to be allowed final say on wages, and said he wouldn’t bind the state to union demands on retirement contributions and health insurance. The Governor said during his State of the State address before the Session started February 4 that collective bargaining for state workers was a priority for him this Session. The bill was carried by Senator David Parks (who along with Senator Joyce Woodhouse completed their final legislative session as they’re termed out) for AFSCME and was also among four goals for RPEN listed on our “legislative agenda” and so we were supportive of the bill as well. Final passage in the Senate came June 1 along party lines, 13 Yeas, 8 Nays while the Assembly was 28 Yeas, 13 Nays when they voted June 2 as an Emergency Measure under the constitution. The bill hasn’t yet been received by the Governor but he is fully expected to sign it.
SB 287 had a similar race to the finish, with the Senate voting June 2 unanimously to approve an amended version of the bill, greatly reducing the penalties an agency could face as well as laying out guidelines of what is expected once a request has been received. The Assembly voted June 3 and again, it was a unanimous decision to approve the bill, which is also heading to enrollment and ultimate signage by the Governor. SB 287 faced a huge campaign on social media (Twitter) by the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) who urged constituents to contact their lawmakers and urge them to pass the bill in the spirit of transparency.
The 80th Session got off to a rocky start with the resignation of a couple of very familiar faces, Senator Kelvin Atkinson (then majority leader) and Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle. But replacements were brought in and their names were barely ever mentioned again…but sadness came later with the sudden death of Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson, an RPEN Member and popular legislator who chaired the Assembly Education Committee. His loss was quite profound.
But all in all, aside from last minute battles over education funding shortfalls, and zoom and charter school controversies, this session ended rather quietly. The best news for RPEN was the passage and ultimate Governor’s signature on Senate Bill 224. This finally puts a legislative stamp on what is and is not confidential information…and as of July 1, when the bill takes effect, the ONLY information that will be public regarding retired public employees is Name and Pension amount, and nothing else. Some may have hoped an identification number would have sufficed, as the original language of the bill outlined, but in the end, the Governor would not have signed it in that version, and what SB 224 ended with was actually less invasive than the original bill from this session as well as SB 384 from the 2017 session that was vetoed by then Governor Sandoval.
Until 2021, Terri Laird, RPEN Executive Director