As the 2019 state legislative session inches closer, more and more bills are being pre-filed. Over the past several weeks, nearly 180 bills have been submitted — 88 in Assembly and 89 in Senate — largely from executive departments, legislative committees and municipalities.
These bills run the gamut from granular administrative changes to multi-bill efforts targeting wide policy areas such as education and gaming. However, this batch is still just a fraction of the expected total; the full number of bills often exceeds 1,000 per session.
Below is a short list of some of the new bills that lawmakers could be considering come the start of the legislative session in February.
Banning lobbyist gifts: Proposed by the outgoing lieutenant governor’s office, AB40 would extend a prohibition on gifts from lobbyists to all members of the executive branch. During the 2015 legislative session, the Legislature amended the Nevada Lobbying Disclosure Act to ban gifts from lobbyists to legislators, their immediate families or their staffs, barring certain exemptions, but that ban stopped short of affecting members of the executive branch.
The prohibition would begin in January 2020, and any violation of the act would qualify as a misdemeanor, similar to the provisions in the legislative gift ban.
Changing school board elections: Proposed by the outgoing lieutenant governor’s office, AB57 would eliminate election districts for School Trustees in Clark and Washoe counties. Instead, it would require three trustees in each county to be elected to at-large seats subject to a vote by the entire county rather than a small geographic chunk of said county.
In Clark County, remaining trustees would be appointed by county commission and the governing bodies of Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas, while in Washoe, remaining trustees would be appointed by the governor, county commission, and the city councils of both Reno and Sparks.
Creating a “Threat Analysis Center”: Submitted on behalf of the Department of Investigations at the Department of Public Safety, AB45 would create a Nevada Threat Analysis Center charged with collecting data on threats to public safety, including potential criminal activity or terrorism, with the aim of detecting, preventing or investigating such activity.
Any information gathered by the center would be confidential unless purposefully released by Center, such as when it would share its information with a law enforcement agency or a local government. Breaking that confidentiality would result in either a gross misdemeanor or a category C felony, depending on the intent of the person who revealed that information.
An education omnibus: Submitted by the Department of Education, SB89 includes a number of proposed changes to the state’s education system. Among them are changes to school accountability reports, changes to improvement plans made by principals, the addition of a new committee on school safety and a requirement for a unified plan for schools in the event of a “crisis, emergency or suicide.”
The proposed measure also includes new requirements for a state framework for student support, requirements to develop nonbinding teacher-to-student ratios in K-12 schools, a designation of school police officers as “category I peace officers,” putting them in line with police officers from Metro or university police, and a change in the guidelines for disciplining students.
Current discipline standards are “progressive,” meaning discipline that slowly ramps up from verbal warnings to suspensions. These new proposed guidelines would emphasize “restorative” discipline, which would aim at emphasizing accountability over outright punishment.
Finally, the bill would allow private schools to contract with school district trustees to provide school police officers to that private school, mirroring a similar agreement already in place for charter schools.
If passed, the bill would take effect in July 2019.
Automating traffic enforcement: Proposed by the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, SB43 would allow local governments to establish automatic traffic violation systems, such as red light or speed cameras. The bill also includes provisions for not paying automatically-served traffic fines, as well as a process to contest these violations.
Current state law only allows the use of cameras for traffic enforcement if it’s a handheld device or if it’s affixed to a law enforcement vehicle or building. If passed, the measure would make Nevada the 24th state in the U.S. to adopt such a system, according to a database from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Putting school blueprints under wraps: Proposed by the attorney general’s office, SB57 would make blueprints or diagrams of schools confidential except under certain circumstances, as well as provide for certain governmental agencies — especially police and fire departments — to have easy access to those school layouts and blueprints.
These provisions were part of a number of recommendations made by outgoing Attorney General Adam Laxalt after a school safety summit he held in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida earlier this year, though the blueprint-specific recommendations were not among the most publicized proposed changes.
More cybersecurity statutes: Sponsored by the Division of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management, SB69 would allow the governor to call upon the Nevada national guard in the event of a “significant cybersecurity incident,” placing cybersecurity in the realm of invasions, disasters and riots.
Among other provisions, it would also require schools, cities, counties and resorts to have emergency response plans in the event of such an incident, as well as making October “Cybersecurity Awareness Month.”
Rural diesel taxes: Submitted on behalf of the Nevada Association of Counties, an association representing county officials and staff, SB48 would allow rural counties (i.e. that aren’t Clark or Washoe) to increase taxes on diesel fuel. Such a tax can’t be more than 5 cents per gallon and must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the county commission or a majority vote by the registered voters in that county.
In the run-up to the 2018 election, some officials in rural counties worried that the bill — which was being drafted at the time — would conflict with a 2018 ballot question in Fernley that aimed to do the same. That measure eventually failed by a margin of 23 votes.
From the Editor