Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed another executive order prohibiting many kinds of wage garnishment or writs of execution, including for federal stimulus checks, as a way to ensure financial stability for Nevadans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sisolak announced the executive order on Friday, which indefinitely blocks court-ordered writs of wage garnishment or writs of execution: procedural legal actions to claim money or property stemming from a legal case. The order will not affect alimony, child support payments or monies owed to victims of crime, but does include federal stimulus checks.
“During this period of economic uncertainty and hardship, this is not the time to create additional financial stress on Nevadans who are struggling to make ends meet,” Sisolak said in a statement. “This measure ensures that federal stimulus money intended to help Nevada’s families and individuals actually stays in their pockets.”
Several states, including California, have taken steps to prohibit federal stimulus checks from being seized to pay for debts owed or through wage garnishment. The federal CARES Act, which implemented the stimulus payment program, included a protection against individuals having to pay back their stimulus dollars toward debts owed to state or federal governments but did not specifically address garnishment or other debts
Sisolak’s order was issued on the same day that a temporary suspension on writs of execution issued by the Las Vegas Justice Court was set to expire. That order would have allowed courts to start issuing new writs of execution on Friday.
Nevada law typically requires a court order for wage garnishment, except for things like unpaid taxes, defaulted student loans and child support. It also limits the amount that can be garnished (taken from a regular paycheck) to 25 percent of weekly disposable earnings or the amount by which weekly earnings exceed 50 times the federal hourly minimum wage, whichever is lower.
The emergency directive itself also orders any funds or property garnished or claimed after the date of the order to be “immediately returned” to the debtor. It also exempts the federal stimulus payments from any right of set-off — which allows lenders to seize assets belonging to the borrower if they default or are otherwise unable to pay back money owed.
It also orders an indefinite stay of any wage garnishment cases being adjudicated in a court until after the state’s emergency order related to COVID-19 expires.
The directive also encourages borrowers and lenders to negotiate payment plans and other agreements within 30 days after the directive and state of emergency is lifted.
Sisolak’s office previously ordered a temporary moratorium on rent and mortgage payments in late March. The governor suggested during a press conference on Thursday that those protections might be lifted on a county-by-county basis in line with the state’s reopening plan.
As of April 17, more than 892,000 people in Nevada have received their federal stimulus check.