Government Affairs Update | April 28, 2017
April 28, 2017
Government Affairs Update | April 28, 2017
FENNEMORE CRAIG | NEVADA LEGISLATIVE REPORT
Happy Friday! Today marks the end of another week of legislative work here in Northern Nevada. As April comes to an end and we start down the final stretch, the calendar is beginning to compress considerably. There are a number of important deadlines approaching that will shape the legislative legacy of the 79th Legislative Session.
In conjunction with this newsletter, you will receive a report on all bill activity that has taken place so far, which we will update on a weekly basis throughout the session. If you have any questions about the process or how to get involved, please feel free to contact any of our team members in Carson City.
Carson City Team:
RECAP OF WEEK 11
Week 12 kicked off with another major legislative deadline. Tuesday was the last day for bills to pass off of the floor in the first house. Any bills that were heard on the floor and passed by midnight that night are dead; however, it is important to note that bills can be exempted from any deadline by leadership, or be sent to a money committee for further discussion if their adoption would have a fiscal impact. In the end, only 16 bills died as a result of the deadline but a surprising number were sent on to the money committees. Roughly 25% of the total number of bills this session have been sent to Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means, which represents a sharp uptick from previous sessions. This will create a monumental amount of work for the chairwomen of those committees- Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D) and Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton (D)- in the 38 days that remain.
The bulk of the votes taken on both Monday and Tuesday received bipartisan support and passed unanimously. No major energy bills died as a result of the deadline and several such bills have been exempted from future deadlines as well. There are several high-profile energy bills making their way through the session which we have highlighted below:
AB206 is freshman Assemblyman Chris Brooks’ (D-Las Vegas) ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) overhaul. The bill raises the mandated percentage of renewable energy to be generated for state customers to 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040, from current levels of 20 percent;
AB270 is another clean energy bill from the freshman class of Democrats. Assemblyman Justin Watkins (D-Las Vegas) proposed the bill, which reinstates favorable “net-metering” rates for rooftop solar customers. Proponents say it will resuscitate a rooftop solar industry that withered when the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada implemented a less favorable rate structure, making it less economical to install panels and sell back excess energy to the grid.
Though energy-related bills fared well this week, other legislation generated considerable opposition from Republican lawmakers as it came to the floor for a vote. On the Senate side, SB464 and SJR12 were especially contentious as they are seen by Republicans as direct rollbacks of work done in the 2015 Legislative Session when their party was in control. SB464 authorizes the LVCVA to require contractors to enter into project labor agreements (PLAs) with unions in the state. This provision undoes AB159 from 2015, which prohibited public bodies from discriminating against contractors that do not contract with unions. SJR12 is perhaps less nuanced in its contradiction with the 2015 session- it is quite literally designed to “rescind SJR1 of the 78th Session”, which stated Nevada’s opposition to federal land management. The same kind of party-line votes occurred on the Assembly side as well with less fanfare. Though Republicans are in the legislative minority this session, bills that receive no support from the party in either house will potentially receive more scrutiny from Governor Sandoval (R) and may incur the wrath of his veto pen.
In addition to the legislative work being done that will impact the energy industry, the Governor’s “Committee on Energy Choice” met for the first time this Wednesday. Chaired by Lieutenant Governor Mark Hutchison, the Committee is tasked with studying the potential impacts of a deregulated energy market in the state and will ultimately make recommendations to the Governor’s Office about how best to proceed should the voters approve the Energy Choice Ballot Initiative a second time in the 2018 election. Committee members will continue to meet over the next 12 months to discuss the monumental task ahead of them.
THE WEEK AHEAD
In light of the compressed schedule going forward, committees are going to begin ramping up speed next week. On Monday, the omnibus insurance bill (AB83) will be up in Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy. AB408, which codifies provisions of the Affordable Care Act will be up in Assembly Health and Human Services later in the day.