2-Minute Preview: Minimum wage increase, surprise billing, recall election overhaul all on deck

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Megan Messerly
Megan Messerly
Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels

Nevada lawmakers are set to hear bills raising the minimum wage, tackling surprise billing at hospitals and overhauling the structure of recall elections with days to go before Friday’s deadline to pass bills out of their first committee.

Legislators also are scheduled to hear details of bills that license student loan servicing businesses, create an all-payer insurance claims database — and vote on bills that affect drug pricing transparency and allow state workers to collectively bargain.

For more information on the status of bills working their way through the Legislature, check out The Nevada Independent’s bill tracker. And for the bills in committee today, visit the Legislature’s website for committee times and links to watch live committee meetings and floor sessions.

Here is what to watch for on Wednesday at the Legislature:

AB489: Matching federal grants fund

This bill would allocate $5 million in state dollars to create a fund allowing state agencies, local governments or nonprofits to apply for federal grants that require a state “match” of funding.

The funding would be allocated as part of a pilot program and sets criteria for which types of grants should be prioritized by the program, which would be overseen by the head of the state Office of Grant Procurement, Coordination and Management as well as the State treasurer.

It is scheduled for a hearing at 8:30 a.m. in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee.

Division of Child and Family Services; Judicial budgets

The budget subcommittees on human services will hold a work session on the Division of Child and Family Services’s budget within the Department of Health and Human Services. At the same time, the budget subcommittees on general government will close budgets on the Commission on Judicial Discipline and several budget accounts within the judicial branch.

Both subcommittees meet at 8 a.m.

SB434: Marijuana record-sealing and employer drug screenings

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear SB434, a bill that would allow people with certain marijuana-related misdemeanors that have been decriminalized since the legalization of recreational marijuana to have their records sealed. It also allows a district attorney to petition a court to vacate convictions wholesale for a group of people with similar convictions.

The bill also changes the rules on driving under the influence of marijuana, and prohibits an employer from denying a person a job simply because a drug test shows up positive for marijuana.

The committee meets at 8 a.m.

AB383: Student loan licensing regulation

Proposed by Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, AB383 would require state financial regulators to oversee and license any student loan servicing companies that collect payments on college or educational student loans.

The bill exempts banks and credit unions from having to register as a student loan servicing company, but otherwise creates a licensing scheme and establishes $1,800 in nonrefundable fees to obtain a license. In addition to giving regulatory powers and oversight to the commissioner of financial institutions, the bill sets several restrictions on loan collectors including prohibitions on unfair or deceptive practices, knowingly misapplying payments, negligently making false statements or wilful emissions of material facts.

Because the bill creates a new fee structure, it requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass. The Financial Institutions Division estimated the bill will cost around $777,700 every two-year budget cycle to hire sufficient staff to carry out the measure.

The bill also creates a student loan ombudsman position to assist any student loan borrower with complaints or issues, as well as create an educational program and material for any student education loans.

It’ll be heard in the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor at 12:30 p.m.

AB456: Raising minimum wage

If adopted, this bill would raise the state’s minimum wage 75 cents a year until 2024, hitting a top wage of $12 an hour for employers who do not offer health insurance and $11 for those that do offer insurance.

The bill also copies language from the Nevada Constitution on allowing individuals who sue to recover lost wages if an employer is found to pay them less than the minimum wage to receive all legal and appropriate remedies such as damages and back pay and requiring a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to any employee who prevails in a case. The bill would take effect in 2020.

It’ll be heard in the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor at 12:30 p.m.

AB239: Work session on opioid fix legislation

A bill that would make changes to an opioid-prescribing law passed by the Legislature in 2017 is up for a vote in the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee at 12:30 p.m.

The legislation would allow providers discretion when writing prescriptions for controlled substances to treat acute pain beyond the statutorily-imposed limitations when they deem doing so to be medically necessary, among other changes. Read about the hearing on the bill here.

SB276, SB481 + SB482: Work sessions on bills on prescription drug costs, Affordable Care Act stabilization

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will vote on three health-care bills, including one, SB276, that will likely be amended to study the feasibility of requiring the middlemen in the drug pricing process, known as pharmacy benefit managers, to pass along rebates on drug prices they negotiate between insurers and drug companies to patients.

Another, SB481, would place additional restrictions on association health plans and short-term limited duration plans, while a third bill, SB482, would direct the state to apply for a federal innovation waiver to allow it to explore other options to stabilize the individual health insurance market.

The bills will be voted on at 1 p.m.

SB272: Paying PERS for certain public employees

This bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Melanie Scheible, would require the state government to pay the employee contribution into the Public Employees Retirement System for any employee whose contribution is paid to a special fund for police and firefighters, as well as any Department of Public Safety employee who provides dispatch services.

It’ll be heard in the Senate Government Affairs Committee at 1 p.m.

SB135: Committee vote on collective bargaining for state employees

Members of the Senate Government Affairs Committee are set to vote on a bill that would authorize state government employees to collectively bargain, a longtime goal of Nevada labor organizations.

It will be up for a vote at 1 p.m.

SB145 & SB191: Battle Born Opportunity Grant and mandatory school libraries

Members of the Senate Education Committee will vote on a long list of bills, including SB145, which creates the Battle Born Opportunity Grant. The scholarship would offer need-based aid to students at Nevada universities; existing programs only offer that assistance to community college students.

They will also take a vote on SB191, which would require all schools to have libraries.

The committee meets at 1 p.m.

AB317: State trauma center designations

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, this bill would require the state Board of Health to adopt criteria to designate trauma centers as either Level I, II, III or IV based on the level of care the center is able to provide, and prohibits any trauma center for representing themselves as such or charging for trauma care without a designation from the state.

The bill would additionally prohibit a hospital from charging a trauma activation fee if it is a Level III or IV trauma center.

The bill will be heard in the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee at 12:30 p.m.

AB469: Taking patients out of the middle on surprise emergency bills

The bill, sponsored by the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee, would establish a process for how hospitals and insurance companies should treat patients who end up with out-of-network emergency medical bills through no fault of their own. Read more about this bill here.

The bill will be heard in Assembly Health and Human Services at 12:30 p.m.

AB66, AB232 + AB252: Work sessions on crisis stabilization, microhospitals and community-based living arrangement homes

The Assembly Health and Human Services Committee will also vote on several bills at its meeting, including one, AB66, that would require the state to establish crisis stabilization centers in Clark and Washoe Counties and allow it to enter into contracts with behavioral health-care providers to do so.

Other bills up for a vote include AB232, which would require a tourist-centered microhospital off the Las Vegas Strip to accept Medicare and Medicaid, and AB252, a bill that makes a number of changes to community-based living arrangement homes in the wake of a legislative audit last year that found deplorable conditions in the homes.

SB446: Supplemental Medicaid payments for personal care services with personal funds

Sponsored by Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, this bill would allow Medicaid recipients to directly receive reimbursements for personal care services and also to supplement state reimbursement rates for those services with their personal funds.

Settelmeyer proposed the legislation after a wheelchair-bound constituent came to him, unable to find someone to care for him at home at the current Medicaid rate. He said that, as a result, the man had to spend his nights sleeping in a hospital.

The bill will be heard in Senate Health and Human Services Committee at 4 p.m.

SB472: All-payer claims database

This bill, sponsored by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, would require the state to establish an all-payer claims database containing information for all medical, dental and pharmacy claims in the state. The Department of Health and Human Services would be required to publish an annual report about the quality, efficiency and cost of health care in the state based on the information contained in that database, including breakdowns by demographics, income, health status, geography and language.

That data would be confidential and only allowed to be released under certain circumstances, such as for research projects or to government agencies.

The bill will also be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee at 4 p.m.

SB262 + SB378: Worksessions on drug pricing legislation

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will also vote on two drug-pricing bills sponsored by state Sen. Yvanna Cancela.

One of the bills, SB262, would take Cancela’s diabetes drug transparency bill from the 2017 session and apply it to asthma drugs. Drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers involved with the sale of the drug would be required to submit certain pricing information to the state related to costs and profits associated with making and selling the drug.

The other bill, SB378, would establish a statewide Prescription Drug Affordability Board tasked with identifying certain prescription drugs with prices that create affordability challenges for insurers and patients. The board would be charged with setting an upper limit that can be paid for the drug.

SB450: Major changes to recall elections

This bill proposed by the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections would make qualifying a recall election against an elected official much more difficult — nearly two years after highly-publicized recall efforts against three Democratic state senators made national headlines.

The bill would eliminate the state’s current system where election officials check a random sampling of signature petitions for a recall and instead require county clerks to conduct a full verification of signatures over a period of 20 days, excluding weekends and holidays. The measure requires backers of the recall to pay for the cost of the full signature verification, while establishing a maximum contribution amount of $5,000 per donor for any special election to recall a public official.

The bill also authorizes someone who has signed a recall petition to request their name be removed at any time prior to the full signature verification being completed and authorizes a person to submit requests to remove a person’s name after signature verification is completed. It also extends the deadline to challenge the legal sufficiency of a recall petition from 5 days to 15 days.

The measure also makes it a felony offense to misrepresent the content of a petition for recall of a public officer or for a person to knowingly or negligently obtain a false signature on a recall petition.

It is scheduled for a hearing in committee at 4 p.m.

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