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Behind the Bar

Behind the Bar: How the mining tax compromise deal came to be

The final deal was sealed up in a Sunday morning meeting in the state Capitol — all four legislative leaders, budget committee chairs and top Republicans on those committees (Sen. Ben Kieckhefer and Assemblywoman Jill Tolles) met with Gov. Steve Sisolak and his staff, agreeing to the rough contours of the “deal” to pass the mining tax with enough Republican votes in tow.

Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Steve Yeager prepares to present Assembly Bill 3

State collects $25 million from 2020 tax amnesty program

The payments, according to a preliminary report produced by the state Department of Taxation, will distribute about $10 million from the state’s general fund, $7.25 million to school districts and the K-12 budget account, and about $7.31 million to local governments. Those payments also resulted in the waiver of about $4.3 million in penalties and $8.1 million in interest, for a total of about $12.46 million.

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Innovation Zones study still sees issues raised by Storey County, others

During its hearing in the Assembly Committee of Revenue on Tuesday, comments from lobbyist Mary Walker in neutral testimony, representing Carson, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties sparked a conversation about tax revenue and future growth concerns in Storey County — the likely location of any Innovation Zone, as the concept backers Blockchains Inc. owns about 67,000 acres of land and spearheaded efforts in favor of the concept earlier this year. Blockchains did not testify in the committee hearing.

unlv campus

Lawmakers clarify price tag for expanding undocumented student access to Silver State Opportunity Grant

While AB213 does not include a fiscal note, bill sponsor Assemblyman Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas) and Andrew Clinger, chief financial officer for the Nevada System of Higher Education, clarified that in order to create an alternative form and process for undocumented students to apply for the grant, the Nevada System of Higher Education will draw up to 5 percent of the Silver State Opportunity Grant program funds, which total $5 million a year allocated from the state general fund.

Lawmakers consider proposal to suspend business licenses over unpaid debt

The bill to do that, AB482, was heard in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday and would require the secretary of state’s office to not renew a business licenses if they are informed by the state controller’s office that the business in question has an outstanding debt owed to a state agency that is currently in collections with the controller’s office.

Lawmakers considering bill to ensure rural counties appoint public defenders independently from the judiciary

Across the state, there have long been issues with the legal defense provided to indigent defendants — people with low incomes who are unable to obtain qualified, competent legal counsel on their own without substantial hardship. The state has been sued in the past over its sparse public defender system in its rural counties and has dealt with disparities in indigent defense from county to county.

Amended bill would give Esports oversight powers to Gaming Control Board

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) introduced an amendment to his bill, SB165, during a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on Monday that would create an Esports Technical Advisory Committee with members appointed by the board. The previous version of the bill would have created an independent Esports commission with oversight powers within the Department of Business and Industry.

Legislature dismisses final 2020 election contest against Democratic assemblywoman

Three Assembly members — Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas), Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas) and Tom Roberts (R-Las Vegas) — met as a somewhat rare election contest committee last week to hear and recommend dismissal of an official challenge by former Assembly Republican candidate Cherlyn Arrington, who lost her bid to Democrat Elaine Marzola by nearly 1,200 votes in the 2020 election.

A group of recently graduated police officer sits on stage.

Despite changes, Las Vegas police argue traffic stop data collection bill would cost millions

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) at first indicated that the bill would cost the agency an estimated $22.6 million for the biennium to implement, but Harris said the agency informally, through emails, had submitted an updated fiscal note that would bring down that amount to about $7 million after the bill was amended to only include traffic stops, not all kinds of stops. All other police agencies that had submitted fiscal notes on the bill withdrew them after the amendment was adopted.

Money protections for UNR’s Extension may clear the way in land-grant debate

With the last-minute addition of an amendment gutting several provisions that could have affected funding to UNR’s Cooperative Extension, the Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to approve SB287, a measure that would formally recognize UNLV and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) as land-grant institutions alongside UNR.

New amendment proposes making changes to Medicaid portion of public option bill in effort to reduce fiscal impact

While Cannizzaro’s proposal to establish a state-managed public health insurance option has garnered significant attention, a lesser-noticed portion of the bill, SB420, proposes expanding certain Medicaid services in the state, including increasing eligibility of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level for coverage for pregnant women, adding coverage for doulas (trained professionals who often assist in childbirth) and community health workers and requiring payment parity between advanced nurse practitioners and physicians.

Nevada lawmaker calls into question the history of Native American massacres, causing backlash from advocates

But Hansen pushed back on the historical accuracy of the massacres described in Spilsbury’s testimony and by Steele in a letter of support for the bill. During the hearing, Hansen argued that there were anomalies between the testimony and the historical record, including indications that U.S. Cavalry divisions were involved in the 1897 massacre while saying there was no cavalry in the region at that time.

Nevada’s drug transparency program could get two years of funding as lawmakers consider expanding its scope

Members of the Senate Finance Committee this week considered a $780,000 fiscal note from the Department of Health and Human Services on the latest drug transparency bill, SB380, which would allow state health officials to transfer the existing drug transparency database to the state’s Enterprise Information Technology Services Division, where it would live and be maintained moving forward. It also would allow the state to hire a pharmacist to manage the drug transparency program and a management analyst to assist with the program’s facilitation.

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