With the first half of the 2019 Legislature wrapped up, many — but not all — of the promises and pledges made by Gov. Steve Sisolak during the campaign and after his election are still making their way through the Legislature.
Although only two bills have been signed by Sisolak in the first 72 days of the legislative session, many of his top priorities — raising the minimum wage, allowing state workers to collectively bargain and revamping the state’s K-12 funding formula — are all still working through the legislative process.
Several of Sisolak’s promises have already been fulfilled; the governor in February signed into law a bill implementing a stalled 2016 ballot initiative requiring background checks on most private gun sales or transfers, and announced in March that he was signing the state onto a multi-state pledge to uphold the greenhouse gas-reducing objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement — pledges made on the campaign trail.
But several of Sisolak’s other promises, from supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, banning assault rifles and creating a Patient Protection Commission have all either failed to move forward or have not yet been addressed by state lawmakers.
We’ve been tracking these promises and more in The Nevada Independent’s Sisolak Promise Tracker, which was launched earlier this year. If you disagree with the status of a tracked promise, have a suggestion that’s not included in the tracker or have a question about the feature, feel free to reach out to [email protected] with any comments or questions.
IN THE WORKS
Maternal death review panel
Sisolak promised to create a “review panel to investigate cases of maternal deaths” during the campaign as part of a larger health care policy rollout. Democratic Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe Moreno has introduced a bill, AB169, that would create a Maternal Mortality Review Program.
Renewable portfolio standard
The governor promised to raise the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 in a campaign ad and “get on the road to 100 percent.” He reiterated that promise during his January State of the State address, and a bill by Democratic Sen. Chris Brooks raising the standard to 50 percent by 2030, SB358, is making its way through the Legislature.
On the campaign trail, Sisolak said he would support “community solar” projects as part of Advanced Energy Economy questionnaire. Democratic Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe Moreno is backing a bill, AB465, that would create an “expanded solar access program” that includes community-based solar programs.
Drug transparency legislation
Sisolak said during the campaign that he wanted to expand the 2017 diabetes drug transparency bill passed during the 2017 session, to drugs that treat cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. Democratic Sen. Yvanna Cancela has introduced a bill, SB262, that would expand her diabetes drug transparency bill to also apply to asthma drugs. It does not, however, apply to drugs to treat cancer, heart disease, or any other conditions.
Ban bump stocks, silencers and assault rifles
In a memorable primary campaign commercial, Sisolak said “When I’m governor, we’re going to ban assault rifles, bump stocks, silencers.” The governor proposed banning bump stocks in his State of the State address, but has not addressed bans on silencers or assault weapons. A bill by Democratic Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, AB291, would ban firearm modifications such as bump stocks, but doesn’t address silencers or assault weapons.
Sisolak said during his State of the State address that he was committed to raising the state’s minimum wage, and later said he believed it should be raised gradually to $12 an hour. A bill by Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, AB456, would raise the wage to a bifurcated $12 or $11 minimum — depending on if an employer offers health insurance — by 2023.
End cash bail
During a gubernatorial primary debate, Sisolak said he would support ending the policy of cash bail for pretrial release. He reiterated those comments during an IndyTalks forum in January 2019 that cash bail is a “big problem for people.” A bill by Democratic Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo, AB325, that would overhaul the state’s pretrial release system and make bail the last option available for judges, has been given a waiver from legislative deadlines.
State worker collective bargaining
Sisolak said during the campaign and in his State of the State address that he believes state workers should be able to collectively bargain “in the years ahead.” A bill allowing for state workers to collectively bargain, SB135, is making its way through the Legislature.
Streamlining for small businesses
On the campaign trail, Sisolak promised to make things easier for small businesses by “streamlining complicated processes, eliminating red tape and needless regulations, and putting a Small Business Advocate in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.” A bill creating an Office of Small Business Advocate has been introduced (SB495) and is making its way through the Legislature.
Expand affordable housing
In an interview, Sisolak promised to “assemble an affordable housing task force” and look into incentives to spur developers to pursue affordable housing projects. His budget called for creating $10 million in transferable tax credits for affordable housing development, and a bill creating the tax credits, SB448, has been introduced and is making its way through the Legislature.
Expand voting access
Sisolak said in his State of the State address that he would work with legislators to “expand early voting and to implement same-day voter registration.” Several bills have been introduced that address both concepts, including SB123, which is sponsored by the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson’s AB345.
Payday lending database
During a candidate forum hosted by Nevadans for the Common Good, Sisolak said that the state needs to have “a tracking system” for high-interest, short-term loans. Democratic Sen. Yvanna Cancela introduced SB201 on Feb. 18, which would require the state to create a database of payday loans.
During the campaign, Sisolak promised to establish a “Patient Protection Commission” tasked with “providing recommendations to the state legislature in the key areas of: price reduction; increased access to care; and harnessing innovation to improve Nevadans’ quality of care” within the first 100 days of his administration.
Wednesday marks the 100th day of Sisolak’s term in office, and no bill creating the commission has yet been introduced in the state Legislature (a bill draft request to create the entity was submitted on Feb. 22). Helen Kalla, a spokeswoman for the governor, said the office had recently received the draft language of the bill and planned to introduce it publicly soon.
Several other campaign pledges have failed to make much headway throughout the legislative session, including:
No campaign payments to family members
During the primary election, Sisolak announced a series of “transparency and ethics reforms” that included prohibitions on candidates paying family members or their businesses for political work. No bill addressing campaign payments to family members has been introduced.
Constitutional amendment on campaign finance
Another of Sisolak’s announced “transparency and ethics reforms” included supporting a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C. which “opened the door for dark money to flood into our elections without accountability. “
A proposed application to Congress calling for a special Article V constitutional convention to address the Court’s decision Citizens United v. F.E.C (AJR5) was proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Steve Yeager, but died without ever receiving a hearing.
‘Baby Box’ program
As part of his campaign’s health care policy, Sisolak said Nevada should create a “baby box” program to “provide low-cost items and educational materials to new parents, an approach that has been shown to reduce infant mortality.” The program was not mentioned during his State of the State address and no corresponding bill has been introduced.
Modernize education funding formula
One of Sisolak’s top education-related promises was to “modernize the 50-year-old funding formula so that it addresses the needs of students, educators, and parents.” Sisolak has said he will work with legislative leadership to ensure education tax dollars follow the student, but hasn’t proposed or endorsed a specific plan for doing so. Lawmakers, mainly Democratic Sen. Mo Denis, are expected to release a funding formula plan but haven’t done so yet.