Medicaid expansions, prison reforms among more than 80 laws taking effect Jan. 1
More than 80 laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year will go into effect Jan. 1, including measures that restrict the use of solitary confinement in Nevada prisons and expand Medicaid coverage for postpartum care and adults with autism.
The group of the roughly 540 bills signed by Gov. Joe Lombardo after this year’s 120-day legislative session also include measures implementing higher penalties for selling tobacco products to people younger than 21 and expanding voting access for people in Nevada jails.
Here’s a look at some of the new bills going into effect:
AB169: Labeling feminine hygiene products
Beginning Jan. 1, manufacturers of feminine hygiene products sold in Nevada must list all of the product’s ingredients.
Groups that lobbied for the legislation — including the Nevada Women’s Lobby and the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence — said listing all ingredients is important for consumers so that they are aware of any potential allergens or toxins.
Any violation of the law is a gross misdemeanor.
SB132: Prohibiting discrimination against living donors
Insurance companies will soon be prohibited from discriminating against a person based on their status as a living donor — defined as a person who has donated an organ or portion of an organ to someone whose organ is no longer functioning.
Under the law, living donors cannot be denied health insurance because of their donor status, and their premiums cannot increase because of their decision to donate an organ.
SB161: Paying for menstrual products, contraceptive access
Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women Infants and Children (WIC) initiatives will now be able to use those benefits to pay for menstrual products, as long as there are sufficient federal funds available.
The legislation sponsored by Sen. Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas) also included a complex 60-page amendment that loosens certain regulations regarding the dispensing of a 12-month supply of contraceptives.
Under the amendment, which was adopted in the final hours of the Legislature's final day, if someone trying out a new type of birth control decides to change it within the first three months, they would be allowed to receive the remaining supply for the plan year of a different type of contraceptive. Previously, people who changed their birth control method within the first three months would not be entitled to a year’s worth of contraception of another type.
However, if someone has already received a year’s supply of contraception and they don't want to continue using that type of birth control, they are required to pay for the new type of contraceptive.
The amendment also allows someone who changes insurance to continue receiving their preferred contraception and receive a full year’s supply without a trial period. Nevada law previously required those changing insurance to restart their birth control supply and receive a trial three-month supply before being dispensed the full 12-month supply.
The bill also states that pharmacists can be paid the same as an OB-GYN while providing certain contraceptive services typically performed by an OB-GYN. During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill that allows women to receive birth control through a pharmacist, bypassing a doctor’s visit.
SB191: Expanding Medicaid eligibility for autism care
Nevada Medicaid will now cover autism care for adults who are up to 27 years old, an eligibility expansion expected to help nearly 130 Nevadans.
The covered care — applied behavior analysis — helps people with social interaction and communication skills, as well as reducing repetitive actions. Nevada Medicaid previously only covered this type of care for people with autism who are 21 and younger.
Supporters of the legislation said it is crucial because adults with autism also need support with learning how to maintain a job and living independently. Advocates have called it a positive step, but are pushing for lifelong insurance coverage of autism care.
Under SB232, Nevada Medicaid is expanding postpartum care to one year after the end of a pregnancy.
Previously, Medicaid only covered health care services through 60 days after the end of a pregnancy, which is required under federal law. This expansion aligns postpartum Medicaid coverage with newborns, who already received a year’s worth of Medicaid coverage.
The bill was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas), who gave birth during the 2023 legislative session.
Parts of SB280, another law relating to postpartum care, are also going into effect Jan. 1. The law requires hospitals to provide for the insertion or injection of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) — which includes intrauterine devices (IUDs) or arm implants that prevent pregnancy for a certain number of years after a patient gives birth.
Hospitals have been required to provide those contraceptives since October. Beginning in January, insurers are prohibited from refusing to cover LARC injections after giving birth.
AB286: Expanding access to voting in jails
Eligible voters held in local jails on misdemeanor charges or awaiting trial will now be granted greater access to vote by requiring jails to develop policies for allowing voting to take place. Those policies must include plans to provide people in jail a reasonable amount of privacy to fill out their ballot, materials to fill out a ballot and plans to ensure the safety of election workers.
While state law bars those convicted of a felony who are serving time in prison from voting — with the right to vote automatically restored upon release from prison — people convicted of a misdemeanor who are serving time in a local jail are still legally allowed to vote.
SB216: Electronic voting for tribal members
Under this law, which was also spelled out in state regulations approved this fall, tribal members who reside on a reservation will be able to vote using the state’s Effective Absentee System for Elections (EASE), an online system typically used by overseas and military voters to cast their ballot. It’s meant to expand voting access for tribal members who have historically faced difficulties in accessing polling locations.
SB307: Regulating use of solitary confinement
After years of efforts by Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas), this law will restrict the use of solitary confinement in Nevada prisons to 15 days, unless correctional officers believe it is necessary to keep the person in confinement for their safety or the safety of others.
The bill also requires the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) to adopt regulations deeming use of solitary confinement to “only be used as a last resort, in the least restrictive manner and for the shortest period of time safely possible.”
In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada published a report based on anonymous testimonies of 281 Nevada prisoners, who detailed the physical and psychological trauma of solitary confinement.
AB452: Prison visitation rules
NDOC must now implement policies that specify why a prisoner’s visitation may be canceled, as well as procedures for notifying people of a visitation cancellation and a new process for appeals to visitation rules.
The bill passed despite opposition from all Assembly Republicans and a majority of Senate Republicans.
The law also establishes a new Office of the Ombudsperson for Offenders within the attorney general’s office, which will investigate complaints of abuse, neglect, confinement conditions and violations of state or NDOC policy. The ombudsperson is able to recommend policy changes to the Board of Prison Commissioners, which is chaired by the governor.
Advocates and families of incarcerated people pushed strongly for the bill and creation of an ombudsperson. A volunteer for Return Strong, an inmate advocacy group that helped present the bill, testified the organization has received thousands of complaints about prison conditions.
AB376: Paid family leave for state workers
State workers who take leave to care for seriously ill immediate family members or a new baby have typically not been guaranteed any pay during that time off, but starting Jan. 1, employees of the state’s executive branch will be granted eight weeks of paid family leave (at half their normal rate of pay).
Federal law already entitles state workers to 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave, but this bill, as part of an effort to retain staff, will provide paid leave to state workers if they’ve met certain qualifications including being on the job for at least 12 consecutive months and having accrued at least 40 hours of sick leave.
AB139: Expanding demographic data collection
Starting Jan. 1, state government agencies that collect demographic data will be required to include a separate category for people of Middle Eastern or North African descent. The requirement does not extend to criminal justice agencies, but allows them to include such a category. Bill supporters have said the goal of the change is to capture more accurate data about those groups, such as Arab Americans, many of whom are typically identified as white under existing categories.
AB310: New supportive housing fund
This law establishes the Nevada Supportive Housing Development Fund and seeds the account with $30 million in state dollars to develop supportive housing units for people who are at risk or experiencing homelessness. That includes a broad range of housing options, such as affordable housing for people on fixed incomes and subsidized housing. The Nevada Housing Division will award grants from that fund for supportive housing projects.
AB332: Regulating student loan servicers
Companies that handle the billing process for federal student loans and private student loan lenders will soon face more regulations.
AB332, sponsored by Assemblywoman Sarah Peters (D-Reno), adds a chapter to Nevada law that places the regulation of student loans under the jurisdiction of the state’s commissioner of financial institutions. The commissioner already regulates entities including banks and credit unions.
Under the regulations, any student loan servicer must receive a license approved by the commissioner.
SB277: Increasing THC purchase amount
SB277, also dubbed the “cannabis Christmas tree” law, includes a lengthy list of changes to Nevada’s cannabis industry.
Under the law, Nevadans can purchase up to 2 1/2 ounces of THC daily, an increase from the previous 1 ounce limit. People with felonies will also no longer be prohibited from serving on the boards of cannabis companies and from being owners in the cannabis marketplace or cannabis agent cardholders.
The bill also officially classifies medical cannabis dispensaries to be adult-use facilities and lowers licensing and renewal fees for certain establishments.
The bill passed mostly along party lines, with Democrats in support and Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) the only legislative Republican in support.
AB53: Increasing penalties for selling tobacco to minors
Under this law, establishments that illegally sell tobacco or nicotine products to people younger than 21 will face steeper penalties. A first and second violation within a two-year period will be punishable by fines of $2,500 and $5,000, rather than the past punishment of a warning. The penalty for a third violation will increase from $500 to $7,500, with even greater penalties for further violations.
AB289: Composting human remains
This bill allows for the “natural organic reduction” of human remains, a process also known as “human composting” that accelerates the transformation of remains into nutrient-rich soil through decomposing in a container with biodegradable materials. The soil can then be returned to the deceased person’s loved ones or donated for use in conservation land or restoration projects.
AB161: Identifying drivers with communications needs
Under this law, drivers will be able to voluntarily indicate to the DMV if they have special communication needs — a category that includes someone who is deaf, has a speech disorder or is neurodivergent. The DMV will be required to put a designation on the driver’s license of that person, though the law provides that any person with a communication need is not required to disclose it to the DMV.
SB222: More money for jury duty
Nevadans called on to serve in juries can expect to see some additional funds. This law increases the daily allotment from $40 to $65 for jurors who are still in attendance after the second day of jury selection.