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The Nevada state seal inside the Legislature on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 during the sixth day of the 32nd Special Session in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

With the new year, a new set of laws is once again taking effect.

Of the hundreds of bills the Legislature passed in 2019, nine finally became effective either in whole or in part on Friday with the start of the new year and as the next legislative session is set to begin in February.

They include a new law requiring more family court judges in Clark, Washoe and Elko counties, a mandate that prescriptions for controlled substances be issued electronically and a measure that establishes a program allowing car rental companies to register their fleets of thousands of cars all at once rather than individually.

The new laws also put in place electronic information security protocols, establish new tracking requirements for sexual assault forensic evidence kits and establish a technical advisory program for historical buildings.

Here’s a rundown of the new laws:

AB43: More family court judges in Clark, Washoe and Elko counties

A new law increasing the number of judges in three of Nevada’s judicial districts takes effect on Monday, though Nevadans already voted in November to fill those new seats. 

In 2019, the Legislature approved raising the number of family court judges in the Second Judicial District from six to seven, in the Fourth Judicial District from two to three, and in the Eight Judicial District from 20 to 26.

The Second Judicial District serves Washoe County, the Fourth serves Elko County and the Eighth serves Clark County.

AB112 + AB176: Statewide sexual assault forensic evidence kit tracking

The final provisions of AB176, which established a Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, officially kick into effect on Friday. They require the state to establish a program to track sexual assault forensic kits, or SAFE kits, and mandate that survivors of sexual assault be able to use that program to track and receive updates on the status of their kits by phone or over the internet.

The law also directs the Advisory Committee on the Rights of Survivors of Sexual Assault to determine the effectiveness of the new SAFE kit tracking program, as needed.

One portion of a separate bill, AB112, also takes effect on Friday, requiring the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice to evaluate and review issues related to the submittal, storage and testing of SAFE kits.

AB177: Easier registrations for car rental companies

This new law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to establish a vehicle registration program that allows a short-term car rental company to register and renew registrations for a fleet of vehicles. Under the program, the DMV is now allowed to issue a permanent certificate of registration and permanent decal for the license plates of each vehicle in the fleet, to remain valid for as long as the company continues to renew the registrations and maintain each vehicle.

The bill was introduced in order to make it easier for car rental companies, such as Enterprise, to register and renew registrations for their fleets of tens of thousands of vehicles, eliminating the need to track down thousands of cars across dozens of locations in the state to apply new tags.

While the bill was effective May 14, 2019 for the purposes of starting to implement the new program, it officially takes effect on Friday.

AB229: Technical advisory program for historical buildings

The Administrator of the Office of Historic Preservation of the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is now required to administer a new program to provide technical assistance and grants to protect and preserve historical buildings, determined as those that are at least 50 years old.

The new law requires the administrator to curate a list of technical advisers, who must have experience in the field of architecture, historical architecture, architectural history or any other relevant field but do not have to be residents of the state of Nevada, and to publish that list of advisers online.

People or entities who own historical buildings then can apply for grants from the state to obtain assistance, including advice, site visits, research and communication, from one of those technical advisers. The grants may only be used to pay the technical adviser for work and travel, but not food or lodging.

The new program is allowed to accept gifts, grants, donations or contributions to assist in carrying out its mission.

While the new law took effect on July 1, 2019 for purposes of establishing a list of technical advisers and preparing the new program, it fully takes effect today. The state allocated $30,000 toward the program over the last two fiscal years.

AB310: Electronic prescriptions for controlled substances

This new law requires prescriptions for controlled substances to be electronically transmitted to pharmacies, except in specific circumstances. 

Those circumstances include prescriptions issued by a veterinarian, certain situations where electronic prescriptions are not practical, feasible or are prohibited by federal law and prescriptions not issued to a specific person. The Board of Pharmacy can also grant a waiver under exceptional circumstances.

The board can exempt practitioners from the new requirements for no more than one year if it is determined that electronic transmission of prescriptions is not possible because of economic hardship, technological limitations or other exceptional circumstances.

In response to any violations of the new law, the board is allowed to serve a cease and desist order, issue a citation, assess a fine of not more than $5,000, or any combination thereof. Practitioners will not, however, be subject to any criminal penalties.

SB119: Training requirements for workers at exhibitions, conventions and trade shows

A final provision of this new law putting in place health and safety training requirements for workers and supervisors at exhibitions, conventions and trade shows kicks into effect on Friday.

The provision removes the option for workers to complete an alternate OSHA course provided by their employer in lieu of an approved OSHA course. When the law was first enacted, requiring workers to undergo certain training within 15 days of being hired, new employees were allowed to complete an alternate course to satisfy the new training requirements, but they now must complete an approved course.

Any employee who previously took an alternate course was also required to take an approved course no later than the first of this year.

SB302: Electronic information security

In an effort to protect the state from cyber attacks, this new law requires any government agency that collects data to follow the most recent standards published by the Center for Internet Security, Inc. or the National Institute of Standards and Technology for collecting, distributing and maintaining records containing personal information.

Under the law, the state Office of Information Security is required to make available to the public a list of controls and standards that the state has put in place to follow those standards and comply with federal law.

The new law also authorizes government agencies to require people to submit documents containing personal information by electronic means, though government agencies can also create a waiver exempting people from that requirement.

It also requires all courts, the Legislative Counsel Bureau, certain state agencies, each school district and the Nevada System of Higher Education to remove all data from electronic waste before disposing of it.

SB481: Purchasing a health plan outside of where you live

The final part of this new, wide-ranging health insurance law — allowing certain consumers to purchase individual health insurance plans outside the rating area where they reside — takes effect on Friday. 

What that means, in simple terms, is that someone who doesn’t live in Clark County but primarily receives their health care there could purchase a Clark County plan, thereby possibly making their insurance more affordable.

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