Government Affairs Update | May 5, 2017
May 5, 2017
Government Affairs Update | May 5, 2017
FENNEMORE CRAIG | NEVADA LEGISLATIVE REPORT
Happy Friday! Today brings the 13th Week of the 79th Legislative Session to a close. When we return to Carson City on Monday, there will be less than 30 days left in the session and both houses are starting to feel the pressure. Bills that remain are currently being heard in second house committees but must pass on to the floor by May 19th to remain viable.
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 13
Week 13 opened with a surprise announcement from the nonpartisan Economic Forum, which projects the amount of money the state will have at its disposal over the coming biennium. Forum members took the stage in the Legislative Building on Monday with a prediction that Nevada’s budget will include an unexpected additional $140 million in funds. Roughly $44 million of that amount has been provisionally allocated to agencies that experienced budget overruns from fiscal years 2016-17. The largest amount was allocated to the Division of Health Care Financing and Policy via AB494. The agency will potentially receive $16.4 million for a larger than expected Medicaid caseload. The remaining $95.7 million in unplanned revenues is ripe for the taking but Governor Sandoval has indicated that he wants to dedicate the bulk of those funds to education.
Addiction Recovery Re-Write
On Tuesday afternoon, the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on SB262. Sponsored by Senator Patricia Farley (NP), the bill changes the structure of payment of benefits for alcohol and drugs rehabilitation services for addicts. Concerns were raised by insurers regarding the timeliness of claims repayment and the additional liability placed upon insurers. Fennemore Craig’s Jim Wadhams proposed an amendment to the language that would clarify the duties of the insurer and indemnify insurers and patients in the event of provider mishaps. Senator Farley accepted the amendment as friendly and we will continue to work with her to implement those changes.
Brick and Mortar Worker’s Comp Here to Stay?
Wednesday afternoon saw a contentious hearing in Assembly Commerce and Labor over SB209. The bill is a combination of several run of the mill language clean-ups requested by the insurance industry and a proposal brought forth by Farmers Insurance. The company would like to remove the sections of Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) that require insurance providers to have a brick-and-mortar establishment in Nevada. This concept proved unpalatable to some committee members and industry insiders alike. Ultimately, those sections of the bill could not be agreed upon and the various stakeholders left the committee room with the promise to meet for further discussion. The latter sections of the bill, which feature clean-up language to the benefit of the surplus lines and cell phone insurance industries, were far less controversial and are expected to remain intact.
Pharmaceutical Pricing Under Fire
Senator Yvanna Cancela (D) proposed major changes to her pharmaceutical bill, SB265, in a Senate Health and Human Services work session this week. Section 6 of the bill was deleted in its entirety. The language as written would have created refunds for diabetes drugs used by insurance customers, but a legal challenge arose as there was a direct conflict with the commerce clause of the Constitution. Now the bulk of the bill now calls for more transparency on drug pricing within pharmaceutical companies. Notably, the Republicans on the committee indicated their support for increased transparency, and the bill passed out of committee on a vote of 4-1 with Senator Hardy dissenting.
Joint Committee Rolls Out Marijuana Regulations
On Wednesday evening, the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees met together for an update on recreational marijuana legalization. The Department of Taxation’s Dionne Contine discussed the roll-out of Question 2 regulations and answered questions from the committees. According to Contine, the program will be ready to implement at the state level by July 1st; however, local government entities indicated their intention to put a moratorium on legalization while they continue to craft their own jurisdictional regulations. The Tax Commission will be putting the state-wide regulations to a vote on Monday morning at the Nevada Gaming Control Board office in Carson City.
Convention Center Construction
The week rounded out with a hearing on SB464 in Assembly Government Affairs. The bill is an amendment to a temporary bill that came out of the 30th Special Session which established financing for the renovation and expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. SB464 allows the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority (LVCVA) to require the adoption of a project labor agreement (PLA) for the expansion. The bill’s sponsor, Senator David Parks (D), used his presentation to dispel myths about what the bill actually does that have been circulated by the opposition parties. Contrary to statements made by opponents, this legislation doesn’t alter existing NRS or discriminate against contractors in the bidding process. The bill will now be required to come up for a work session in the committee before it moves onto the Assembly Floor.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Committees will continue to meet regularly and push through legislation in order to beat the upcoming committee passage deadline on May 19th, and Week 14 will be no exception.
Upcoming Bill Spotlight
Assemblyman Skip Daly’s (D) AB403 will be presented in Senate Legislative Operations and Elections at 3:30PM on Monday. The bill allows the Legislative Commission to invalidate executive branch regulations at their sole discretion. The Commission is then given a 120-day window to provide rationale to the affected agency for why the regulations were abolished but their decision is final and not subject to any judicial oversight or review. The bill passed off of the Assembly floor 33-9 with little opposition but is expected to face more scrutiny in the Senate.