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Construction crews prepare home plots in Summerlin on Thursday, April 13, 2017 (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Democratic Sen. Julia Ratti is amending one of her bills related to affordable housing that would allow local governments in Nevada to implement rent control policies or require developments contain a minimum number of affordable residential dwellings.

The bill, SB103, was heard Monday in the Senate Government Affairs committee, and would allow local governments to waive or reduce certain impact fees charged to new developments, as long as the government entity first holds a public hearing on the economic vitality of its general fund budget and determine that the reduction in revenue won’t impair bond reimbursement.

But during the hearing on the bill, Ratti offered an amendment that would allow local governments to implement either inclusionary zoning, where developers are required to ensure that a certain percentage of constructed residential homes are certified as affordable, or to allow local governments to implement rent control policies.

During the hearing and in talks with reporters afterward, Ratti stressed that the changes in the bill were optional for local governments and not a state-driven mandate. She said the bill and a companion piece of legislation on reporting to a low-income housing database, SB104, were the first of a slew of bills designed to tackle the state’s ongoing shortage of affordable housing.

“The focus today was what are the tools that we can get to local governments so they can be part of the solution,” she said.

The concept of both bills originated in an interim legislative committee studying affordable housing prior to the legislative session. Ratti said the committee had primarily discussed adding inclusionary zoning — which she called an “incredibly powerful tool — to the list of affordable housing policies available to local governments, but that she included the concept of rent control after several discussions with her constituents.

“Really, this is only about making sure that if those kind of decisions are going to be made they're made at the local level where the market conditions are unique,” she said.

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