Live updates: Nevada Legislature’s first committee passage deadline
It’s the biggest culling of the 120-day legislative session — first committee passage.
Friday, April 14, the 68th day of the session, marks the deadline for bills to be voted out of their first committee or fall by the wayside, unless a measure has been granted an exemption from legislative deadlines.
Over the past five sessions, the deadline has seen around 250 to 280 bills left behind at the first committee passage deadline — more than at any other deadline — while last session’s deadline saw 116 bills passed out of committee in a single day.
That means Friday will likely see marathon work sessions, in which committees consider amendments to bills and vote measures out to advance next to the Assembly or Senate floor, where they will be voted on by the entire body.
But even with hundreds of bills on the chopping block, Friday’s deadline does not mean the end for every bill out of committee. Lawmakers have granted exemptions and waivers to dozens of bills carrying hefty fiscal notes, including measures that would grant Clark County $44 million for rental assistance and appropriate about $36 million for college nursing programs, as well as a slew of major policy bills, including all five measures from Gov. Joe Lombardo.
With late night meetings and other crammed agendas spread throughout the week, lawmakers have already voted about 500 measures out of committee through April 13. Some measures already advanced through committee include bills granting a pair of $500 bonuses to state workers and seeking to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday.
More bills are also likely to be left behind in another 11 days, when April 25 marks the deadline for first house passage. To view the status of all legislative measures, check out The Nevada Independent’s bill tracker.
Here’s a look at which bills passed (and failed) ahead of Friday’s deadline. The Nevada Independent will update this story as additional bills are passed out of committee on Friday.
Deadline day concludes with wide-ranging Senate Government Affairs meeting (5:18 p.m.)
Friday’s final meeting saw members of the Senate Government Affairs Committee voted out roughly three dozen bills, wrapping up a flurry of committee votes before the deadline struck.
Some of the measures passed by the committee include:
- Office of Small Business Advocacy — SB24, a bill from the lieutenant governor’s office, removes a July 2023 expiration date and makes the recently formed agency focused on helping small businesses permanent.
- Sidewalk vendors — SB92, sponsored by Sen. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas), seeks to regulate street food vendors in Clark and Washoe counties, in a bid to legitimize such vendors and prevent the criminalization of vending by local governments. The measure was passed unanimously out of committee, with an amendment including new public health regulations.
- Tenant background checks — SB143, sponsored by Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas), would generally prohibit landlords from making inquiries or performing background checks to determine a prospective tenant’s conviction or criminal record, with exceptions for violent or sexual crimes. If passed, the bill would also consider it an unlawful discriminatory process to refuse to rent or lease a dwelling to an applicant because of any criminal conviction or arrest record. The bill passed unanimously with a minor amendment, including a carve-out for single-family residences.
- Homeless bill gutted, replaced with diversionary program — SB155, sponsored by Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas), originally sought to prevent local governments from banning homeless people from sleeping outdoors or accepting food. But under a new amendment, the bill was gutted and replaced with provisions that would allow someone charged with a misdemeanor homelessness offense to be placed in diversionary court programs and not be subject to certain fines. It passed unanimously out of committee.
- North Las Vegas Charter — SB184, sponsored by Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas), would bump the number of wards in North Las Vegas from four to six — a bill sharply criticized by North Las Vegas city leaders. The bill was approved in a 4-1 vote, with Sen. Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka) opposed.
- State-backed retirement plan for private sector workers — SB305, sponsored by Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas), would establish a state-managed savings trust that automatically enrolls private sector employees to provide them with retirement savings accounts similar to 401(k) plans or other benefits. An employee could opt out of the system, and it would not apply for workplaces already offering state-recognized retirement plans.
- Sewer surcharge to fund services for homeless — SB318, sponsored by Sen. Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas) passed out of committee. The measure would authorize cities to establish an annual sewer surcharge to raise funding dedicated to supporting homeless services. A similar bill came before the Legislature in past sessions but failed to pass.
- Who has the authority to implement rent control? — SB371, sponsored by the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, seeks to clarify state law surrounding which jurisdictions have the authority to implement rent control. The bill was approved unanimously, though Sen. Lisa Krasner (R-Reno) said she reserves the right to change her vote on the Senate floor.
- Banning sundown sirens — SB391, sponsored by Harris, would prohibit use of any sundown sirens statewide, only leaving exceptions for the use of such sirens for emergencies, testing every six months and celebrating legal holidays. Similar sirens have been criticized for their historical use to alert people of color to leave town by a certain time. Goicoechea was the lone vote against the bill, saying it would affect dozens of rural communities across the state.
— Jacob Solis, Sean Golonka, Tabitha Mueller
Senate Judiciary passes prison reform measure (4:24 p.m.)
Criminal justice reform advocates celebrated when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-1 to pass SB416, a wide-ranging prison financial reform measure aimed at addressing the costs of incarceration.
Though the bill had no amendments, lawmakers and advocates note that the language will shift and change depending on the financial support available for the measure.
As written, the bill would:
- Cap markups of goods sold by prisons to inmates at 5 percent. Those goods include food items, clothing and religious items. As of Tuesday, the Nevada Department of Corrections said it has removed all markups on hygiene items.
- Eliminate medical co-pays and emergency medical fees known as man-down fees for injuries, sickness and incidents of self-harm.
- Remove room and board charges and debt upon release, such as medical and institutional debt accrued while in prison.
- Mandate that incarcerated individuals receive at least $100 upon release, available aseither a check or debit card, an increase from the $25 received upon release..
- Require the Department of Corrections to create a standard for loved ones collecting remains of people who died while incarcerated and reduce or eliminate fees for those services based on financial need.
The bill stems from advocacy efforts surrounding the cost of incarceration that began in 2020 when prisons levied an 80 percent deduction on every deposit made into an incarcerated person’s trust account.
Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Henderson) was the only committee member to vote against the bill. He did not explain why he opposed it during the committee vote.
— Tabitha Mueller
Polarizing bill covering daily hotel room cleanings moves forward without a recommendation (3:29 p.m.)
Legislation removing pandemic-imposed cleaning requirements for the gaming industry was moved out of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services without a recommendation at the request of the chairman.
SB441, which includes eliminating a requirement that all hotel rooms be cleaned on a daily basis, was the subject of heated debate during a hearing Tuesday. Nevada’s major hotel-casino operators said daily room cleaning is a burden and should no longer be required. However, leadership and members of Culinary Workers Local 226 believe keeping the practice was still a good policy.
Committee Chairman Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas) said he had concerns with the bill and because of Friday’s deadline, he decided SB441 should move forward to the full Senate for further consideration but without a recommendation from the committee.
“I think the hearing that we had opened a lot of questions that still remain unanswered on portions of the bill,” Doñate said. “Given the nature of how this bill is running, and because we are close to a deadline, I would ask my committee members to make a motion to move this bill out without a recommendation.”
The vote passed unanimously.
— Howard Stutz
Contentious health care bills amended, pass out of committee (2:35 p.m.)
Sponsored by Assemblywoman Venicia Considine (D-Las Vegas), the measure would ensure the state piggybacks off the Inflation Reduction Act, stipulating that any future Medicare-negotiated prescription drug prices would also apply to all those drugs sold in Nevada, regardless of insurance.
If passed, the measure would go into effect in 2026, aligning with the timeline of the federal law and giving the state and businesses enough time to adjust to the new pricing of drugs. An amendment to the bill made clarifying changes to the legislation.
Opponents cited concerns about premature passage given that the federal act is still being implemented. Assemblywoman Bea Duran (D-Las Vegas) joined Republicans in opposition.
Committee members with the exception of Assemblywomen Heidi Kasama (R-Las Vegas), Duran and Melissa Hardy (R-Henderson) also voted to pass AB198, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman David Orentlicher (D-Las Vegas). As amended, the measure now clarifies within state law that Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) have the ability to prescribe and administer anesthetic agents and controlled substances such as morphine, based on their scope of practice.
A third measure that would raise the student-to-teacher ratio from eight to 12 for nursing schools, AB401, passed out of the committee with unanimous support. An amendment on the bill clarifies that a professional nursing school establishes the ratio as a maximum ratio, not a mandated one.
— Tabitha Mueller
Gaming Control Board bills combined (2:31 p.m.)
Changes to various gaming regulations were unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which sent SB14 to the full Senate. The bill, which is backed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, included an amendment with several items from SB7.
The bill’s primary change would allow the control board chairman to administratively appoint the spouse or next of kin of a deceased or incapacitated gaming license holder to assume those operations for a limited time, until that person can be fully licensed. Under the law, the spouse or next of kin has to be fully licensed by the Nevada Gaming Commission before assuming that role.
Among the items added to the bill from SB7 include language that defines a gaming employee, an amendment regarding race and sportsbook operations and an amendment to regulations concerning the Gaming Commission and interactive gaming providers.
— Howard Stutz
Assembly kills one bill to remove medical malpractice cap, but keeps another alive (2:13 p.m.)
In brief remarks following the Assembly’s Friday floor session, Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Brittney Miller announced that AB209 would not receive a work session before the deadline, effectively killing the measure.
AB209, sponsored by Assemblywoman Cecelia Gonzalez (D-Las Vegas), would have wholly removed a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages from medical malpractice lawsuits, a limit that has existed since a 2004 referendum. Proponents, including the state’s trial lawyers, argued the cap unfairly limits pain and suffering damages for patients who suffered from devastating medical mistakes.
Doctors and insurers, however, have argued removing the caps may worsen the state’s physician shortage, in part by skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums. Miller cautioned that the idea behind AB209 still lived through a deadline waiver granted Friday for AB404. More limited in scope than its counterpart, AB404 would instead substantially raise the damages cap to $2.5 million, with additional provisions increasing that cap based on inflation. That measure, sponsored by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, has not yet received a committee hearing.
— Jacob Solis
Education bills draw partisan splits (1:35 p.m.)
SB292, a bill sponsored by Sen. Julie Pazina (D-Las Vegas) that would make it significantly easier for school districts to fire underperforming principals by making them at-will employees advanced through the Senate Education Committee — but not without concerns from Sen. Carrie Buck (R-Henderson), who voted against passage while reserving her right to change her vote on the floor.
Though she backed the bill in broad terms, she criticized a provision that would make principals at schools that lost a star rating at-will employees even after their probationary period had ended — a policy she argued would disincentivize good principals from working at underperforming schools.
Republicans also more uniformly opposed SB344, a sweeping K-12 measure from Sen. Dina Neal that, as amended, would, in part, create a requirement for an associate’s degree for substitute teachers and requirements for academic policy, program and education law for district superintendent candidates. Language that would have prohibited local or county funding for charter schools was also stripped back, with local grants allowed, but formal funding mechanisms prohibited (barring a few grandfathered exceptions).
That charter provision was sharply criticized by Buck, a years-long member of the state’s Charter School Association, who called it an “attack on charter schools.” Buck was joined by Sen. Robin Titus (R-Wellington) and Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) in opposition, though the committee still advanced the bill.
A 350-page higher education bill was also drastically reduced under a new amendment proposed Friday. In its original form, SB347 would have radically reshaped the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), breaking up the system and placing the universities under the elected Board of Regents, while creating new individual boards of trustees for each of the state’s four community colleges and one state college.
Under a heavily revised version of the bill presented this week, that breakup was scaled back into a study commission — though still maintained the creation of community college boards. Touted as a means to reform the system after years of internal turmoil, the measure was nonetheless panned by NSHE and faculty groups, who criticized the lack of clarity over implementation or just how far the legal authority created by the boards might go.
Reduced even further under the latest amendment, SB347 would instead create a Commission on Higher Education Funding — an apparent outgrowth of efforts by lawmakers and Gov. Joe Lombardo to revise the now-decade old higher education funding formula. The bill is now likely to be sent back to the Senate Finance Committee.
— Jacob Solis
Summary eviction changes (1:14 p.m.)
A measure seeking to revise the state’s unique summary eviction process passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote with Republicans in opposition.
SB335, sponsored by Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas), is similar to another summary eviction overhaul making its way through the Assembly. The Senate proposal would require a landlord to make the first filing in a summary eviction and change when and how a sheriff or constable can act on an eviction notice. The bill also sets forth guidelines for a tenant to contest an eviction and for a mediation process to take place.
The measure originally stipulated that a court would dismiss an eviction if rental assistance was granted during the eviction process. As amended, however, a tenant who received rental assistance but did not pay the full amount of rent owed could still be evicted.
— Tabitha Mueller
Increased penalties for fentanyl trafficking (1:04 p.m.)
Lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a pair of high-profile bills that would increase penalties for fentanyl trafficking and are aimed at cracking down on a crisis of opioid overdose deaths.
SB35, from Attorney General Aaron Ford, and SB343, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, would work in tandem to establish a tiered system of increasing felony penalties for low-, mid- and high-level fentanyl trafficking — but the bills do not go as far as proposals from Senate Republicans (SB128 and SB197), which both appeared set to fail at Friday’s deadline. Another measure from Gov. Joe Lombardo (SB412), which is exempt from the deadline, seeks to increase penalties for possession of the drug in any amount.
Two senators who voted in favor of the bills, Sens. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas) and James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas), said they were reserving their right to vote no on the measures on the Senate floor.
— Sean Golonka
More legislative oversight of tax abatements (12:32 p.m.)
An amended version of SB394 from Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) would prohibit the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) from approving any tax abatement valued at more than $500,000, granting lawmakers greater power over large scale tax abatements such as those granted to Tesla earlier this year.
“Any additional ask that exceeded this amount, they would then have to get legislative approval from us,” Neal said during a Senate Revenue and Economic Development meeting. “For anything that’s $2 million, $5 million, they would then, GOED would then have to each time bring a [bill draft request] to the Legislature for anything above that amount.”
Neal has been an outspoken critic of a deal that granted Tesla $330 million in tax abatements earlier this year, saying the state should not be giving large tax breaks to billionaires.
“Economic diversification is still something that I support; however, I want the Legislature to be back in the seat of determining what [is] an appropriate amount of abated taxes that should go to a corporation,” she said.
The bill passed out of committee along party lines, with Republican lawmakers opposed. Sen. Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) said the existing structure allowing the GOED board to approve abatements was intended to expedite the process of economic development and to allow Nevada to compete with other states for large projects, and she does not want to slow down the process by putting decision making in the hands of a Legislature that meets every other year.
Those on the committee also noted the potential implications of another bill, SB181, that would grant the director of GOED authority to approve tax abatements up to $500,000 — an increase from the existing maximum of $250,000.
— Sean Golonka
Election bills clear Senate committee (11:50 a.m.)
A pair of Democrat-backed election bills advanced through the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee — with split Republican support.
The first measure, SB404, was amended to remove provisions granting the governor emergency powers over elections but preserving a provision that would allow counties to begin counting early vote ballots and mail ballots as soon as the first day of early voting (rather than Election Day).
Senate Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) voted against the measure, citing concerns over language in the bill governing what constituted proper identification in the case of challenged ballots.
The second, SB443, would require the DMV to maintain extended hours around early voting, essentially allowing voters attempting to same day register but without proper photo ID to more easily obtain such an ID. Under an amendment, it would also allow such voters to use out-of-state IDs or certain identifying documents, such as utility bills or paycheck stubs.
That measure saw Seevers Gansert and Sen. Lisa Krasner (R-Reno) in opposition, with Seevers Gansert again raising concerns that use of such documents were insufficient for voter registration purposes.
— Jacob Solis
As the clock winds down, Legislature slowly reviews bills (10:30 a.m.)
After a slow start to the day, committees voted to pass roughly a dozen bills during a set of early morning meetings.
- Cannabis at events — AB253, sponsored by Assemblyman Cameron “C.H.” Miller (D-North Las Vegas), would allow the licensing of cannabis sales and use at certain events, though the specifics are likely to change. The bill was amended before being passed 11-4 out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and at least two committee Democrats who voted in favor are requesting more as-of-yet unspecified amendments down the line.
- Doula services — A measure set to increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for doula services passed out of the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee. Under the bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D-Las Vegas), AB283, Medicaid’s fee-for-service program participants would be eligible for reimbursement up to $1,200 for doula services during pregnancy. An amendment to the measure clarifies doula services and adds coding for Medicaid reimbursements.
- IDs to buy cannabis — Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously passed AB342. As amended, the measure sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Hibbetts (R-Las Vegas) would revise the identification requirements for purchasing cannabis to align with the requirements for purchasing tobacco.
— Tabitha Mueller, Jacob Solis and Sean Golonka
Restricting firearm access
A pair of bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas) heralded by gun violence prevention advocates passed out of committee on party-line votes. Republican lawmakers voting against the bills had criticized them as infringing on Second Amendment rights. The bills include AB355, which would raise the legal age to purchase semi-automatic rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21 years old, and AB354, which, as amended Thursday, would prohibit firearms within 100 feet of election sites.
Restorative justice rollbacks
Two measures that would largely strip back a Democrat-backed law from 2019 to limit expulsions and suspensions at K-12 schools advanced past the Assembly Education Committee. That includes AB330 — a measure from the governor’s office that was scaled back under a new amendment — and AB285, a similar bill from Assemblywoman Angie Taylor (D-Reno). Indy education reporter Rocio Hernandez broke down the meeting — where there was just one “no” vote — here.
Capping rent increases
A measure seeking to implement statewide rent caps, SB426, passed out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on a party-line vote. The bill sponsored by Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) passed with an amendment clarifying certain terms, preventing landlords from increasing rent by more than 5 percent for each additional occupant and stipulating that increase in rent for capital improvements on a dwelling unit not exceed 70 percent of the actual costs of the unit.
Republicans on the committee opposed the measure, though Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) said he may change his mind in the future.
“I may not be completely, fully there yet, but I think I could, with a little bit more time,” he said.
Medicaid for undocumented immigrants
Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2, with Republicans in opposition, to move SB419 out of committee. Originally aimed at expanding Medicaid coverage to Nevada’s undocumented population, the bill as amended removes that full coverage. Instead, it would establish a state-funded coverage program similar to Medicaid for people ages 26 or younger who are ineligible for Medicaid because of their immigration status, establish state-funded coverage for postpartum services for women and expand Medicaid coverage “to the extent permissible” for all individuals residing in Nevada who qualify for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Republicans opposed the measure, citing a fear of limiting access to health care and the costs the bill may incur. However, bill sponsor Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas) pushed back against the criticism, saying undocumented people in the state are taxpayers who deserve access to quality health care.
“My family members, those who are undocumented, have lived here longer than I've been alive,” he said. “They are Nevadans. They call this place home.”
Repealing a ban on lotteries
AJR5, which passed out of the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to repeal the state's 159-year-old constitutional ban on lotteries. Sponsor Assemblyman Cameron “C.H.” Miller (D-North Las Vegas) hopes to use funds from a state lottery to fund youth mental health programs. But the measure, which is supported by the Culinary Union, has drawn strong opposition from the state’s powerful gaming industry, which has argued it would hurt business and jobs for the industry.
Election administration changes
Lawmakers voted out a slew of election-related measures, including:
- AB242, passed out on party lines, would prohibit the use of paper ballots for in-person voting, instead requiring that such voting be conducted on mechanical voting machines. It comes in response to efforts from rural counties to eliminate the use of voting machines amid conspiracy theories about the security of such machines.
- AB246, sponsored by Assemblywoman Selena Torres (D-Las Vegas), would expand voting access to thousands of limited-English proficiency Chinese voters in Clark County by requiring election materials be provided in the language of a given minority group if there are at least 5,000 “voting age citizens” in the county who are members of that minority group and are of “limited-English proficiency.”
- AB286, a bill passed unanimously and sponsored by Assemblywoman Brittney Miller (D-Las Vegas), is intended to ensure eligible voters held in local jails awaiting trial still have the ability to vote by expanding access to ballots in jails.
- SB406, a bill from Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, would increase penalties for harassment and intimidation of election workers. Aguilar’s proposal comes amid a rise in threats against poll workers and election administrators in recent years.
- AJR6 proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to adopt the National Popular Vote Compact. It would have to pass in two consecutive legislative sessions and be approved by a majority of voters in a general election to take effect.
- Separately, a Senate committee voted 3-1 to approve SB162, sponsored by Sen. Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas). It would seek to codify and regulate voting in jails, in large part through an amendment requiring jails and detention centers to tell the secretary of state’s office what their voting policies — many of which are already in place — actually look like. The committee’s two Republicans split on the measure, with Sen. Lisa Krasner (R-Reno) voting no and Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) voting yes.
Paid family leave for state workers
A bill aimed at giving state employees eight weeks of paid family leave (AB376) passed out of the Assembly Government Affairs Committee. An amendment to the bill ensures it would cover all state employees, not just those in the classified service of the state.
Like many other states, Nevada does not offer paid family leave to state employees. The bill would be available to employees after the birth or adoption of a child, to recover from a serious illness or care for a family member with a serious illness, or to address needs after a family member’s military deployment. Employees would be paid 50 percent of their normal wages during their leave.
Exempting diapers from the sales tax
Members of the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee voted to approve SB428, a bill that would create a 2024 ballot question exempting the sale of diapers (for children or adults) from the state’s sales tax.
Magic mushrooms bill watered down to study
Sen. Rochelle Nguyen’s (D-Las Vegas) bill decriminalizing MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, and psilocybin — hallucinogenic fungi also known as “magic mushrooms” — has been turned into a study.
The bill, SB242, passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee after Nguyen presented an amendment removing sections dealing with drug possession decriminalization, and instead directing the state health department to establish a “Psychedelic Medicines Working Group” aimed at studying possible therapeutic uses of psilocybin and other similar “therapeutic entheogens and compounds.”
— Sean Golonka, Tabitha Mueller, Jacob Solis and Riley Snyder