Government Affairs Update | May 26, 2017

May 26, 2017

Government Affairs Update | May 26, 2017


Happy Friday! We here in Carson City have just wrapped up the second to last full week of the legislative session. With the session winding down this week, tempers got short, deals came together and fell apart, and legislation moved through the process. There appears to be the beginning of a closing deal regarding the embattled Education Savings Account (ESA) program and minimum wage to give Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and legislative Democrats respective wins. Tonight is the last day for bills which have not received a deadline exemption to pass off of the floor in the second house. All measures which have not passed this hurdle will be considered dead at midnight (though as of this writing, the Assembly started its work day at 8:37PM). Bills can be exempted from deadlines by leadership, or be sent to a money committee for further discussion if their adoption would have a fiscal impact. In conjunction with this newsletter, you will receive a report on all bill activity that has taken place so far. We will not be sending a weekly newsletter next week in this same format; rather, you will receive a complete session recap within a week of Sine Die. 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:

Harris Armstrong | 775.220.7844 |
Austin Slaughter | 775.813.8349 |


As the number of days remaining before Sine Die begin to wane, there are several nuanced vehicles for legislation to be introduced and moved through the process that we did not see utilized frequently earlier in the session.

Emergency Measures
One crucial weapon in party leadership’s arsenal is the introduction of emergency measures. These bills can be brought forward and passed at any time up until midnight on June 5th to revive legislation that has died or to introduce partisan priorities for the placation of the political base. The Majority Leader of the Senate and Speaker of the Assembly are each allocated ten emergency measures, and the Minority Leaders of the Senate and Assembly are both allocated three.

To Concur or Not to Concur?
When a bill is amended by the second house, that amendment must be agreed upon by the first house. The first house has the option to “concur” with the amendment, in which case the bill continues on to the Governor, or to “not concur”. The amending house will then have the option to “recede” or “not recede” in the event that the houses do not agree, the bill goes to a Conference Committee. Three members per house are appointed to serve on each Conference Committee, two of whom voted in favor of the bill. These legislators then discuss but are not limited to resolving the differences between the amendments. At this stage in the process, each bill under question is completely opened for the addition of new amendments. As a result, the bill that comes out of conference committee can look very different from the bill that went in.

The Power of the Pen
The ultimate up or down vote for the bulk of the legislation this session will come from the Governor’s office. As of this moment, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) has vetoed more bills than he did in the entire 2015 session. And the trend is only expected to continue. Sandoval remains in negotiation with Senate and Assembly Democrats in the hopes that his agenda will be enacted. His office has indicated that the fate of several key Democratic pieces could hinge on the success of the Republican priorities such as ESAs. 


Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Rear Their Heads
Two bills that would impact the Nevada business community cleared major legislative hurdles this week. SB196, which requires private businesses to offer paid sick leave to employees, was passed out of the Assembly on Thursday. The bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford (D) and is considered a major Democratic priority for the session. It has faced considerable opposition from those businesses that would be affected. Governor Sandoval has not issued an official statement on the policy and there is no indication of whether SB196 will face the wrath of his veto pen. The second, SB106, is another Democratic priority bill. The bill increases the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $11 an hour if an employer offers healthcare and $8.25 to $12 and hour if an employer does not. The rates would increase by $0.75 each year over a five-year period.

Hospital Liens
On Wednesday, AB183 was heard in front of the Senate Judiciary committee. The bill would place a cap on the amount that hospitals can collect from tortfeasors to cover the cost-differential of individual’s insurance coverage. This includes Medicare and Medicaid. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Ohrenschall (D), and has received support from the Nevada Justice Association (NJA). Bill Bradley and Matt Sharp of the Nevada Justice Association presented the bill and argued that this cap would allow more money to go to the injured party. Fennemore Craig’s own Jim Wadhams testified in opposition to the bill on behalf of the Nevada Hospital Association. The hospitals are primarily concerned about the inability to cover costs for medical services if a cap was placed.

Pharmaceutical Pricing
SB265, which has largely been viewed as one of the most significant bills of the session, passed out of the Assembly on Thursday and is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Senator Cancela’s (D) bill would require manufacturers of diabetes drugs to disclose information about costs and profits of their medications, specifically insulin. Notably, it passed out of the Assembly on party lines (26-14), and was largely bi-partisan on the Senate side (19-2). Concerns about targeting the wrong businesses in the industry, confidentiality, and the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) were raised by the Republicans and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R) introduced emergency legislation that would solely focus on transparency on behalf of the PBMs, SB539.

Renewable Energy
Freshman Assemblyman Chris Brooks (D) saw his ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) overhaul, AB206, come up for a hearing in the Senate this Friday. The bill raises the amount of required renewable energy generation in the state to 50% by 2050. The Nevada Resort Association came out in opposition to the measure on the basis that sweeping changes to the energy industry shouldn’t be made without knowing what the future of the energy market, should Ballot Question 3 pass a second time in November 2018. One stated point of opposition is the potential for increased costs to rate payers.

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