With only a few days remaining to sign or veto bills, NFIB takes inventory of the successes and disappointments
NFIB/Nevada State Director Randi Thompson reports from Carson City on the small-business agenda as of June 13
Gov. Brian Sandoval still has a few days to decide the fate of about 30 or so bills, but to date, small business is happy to report that he has vetoed some bad proposals that passed the Legislature and signed into law a very good one.
After much discussion about the possibility of a trade-off between raising the minimum wage in return for funding of the governor’s Education Savings Accounts, ESA’s were taken off the bargaining table during the last days of the legislative session, freeing the governor to be more aggressive in vetoing many bills that passed along party lines. So far, he has vetoed 35 bills. It remains to be seen if he passes Jim Gibbon’s 2009 record of 43.
Of all the issues NFIB tended to during the 2017 legislative session, Senate Bill 160 was the most important and received the most intense lobbying effort. Working with the author, NFIB helped craft language that now requires state agencies to post on their website, three working days in advance, a new or revised regulation that will be considered at the hearing. Further, it requires an agency to provide — again, three working days in advance — notice of its intended action before holding a second or subsequent hearing on a regulation.
The cost and time of complying with regulations shot to second place out of 75 issues of worry to Main Street enterprises in the latest Small Business Problem & Priorities report published by NFIB every four years. Although the federal government is the biggest regulatory headache for small businesses, states add their fair share. SB 160 gives Nevada small businesses a badly needed heads-up at what’s coming down the pike, and NFIB is grateful to Governor Sandoval for signing it into law and happy that the law’s effective date begin in just a few day, July 1.
Although ESA’s didn’t get funded, the Legislature did pass Senate Bill 555, which provides $20 million over two years to the state’s Opportunity Scholarship program that is meant to help more low- and middle-income students attend private schools on scholarship. Businesses can make a donation to a state-authorized opportunity scholarship program and get a dollar-for-dollar write-off from their Modified Business Tax.
Also getting the governor’s approval was Assembly Bill 94 which repeals the prospective expiration of the NV Grow Program. This will allow for continued support of the Small Business Development Centers at UNR and UNLV, organizations that provide great resources to entrepreneurs and start-up companies.
The Legislature passed Senate Joint Resolution 6, which proposes to amend the state Constitution to increase the minimum-wage rate to $9.40 an hour starting in 2021, then annually every year after by $1.15 cents until it reaches $14 an hour. The resolution also contains a provision that an employee who prevails in any legal action that shows the employer failed to pay minimum wage, the employee is awarded triple damages. Joint resolutions do not require action by the governor. However, SJR 6 must pass the Legislature again in 2019 before it goes to the voters on the 2020 ballot.
Governor Sandoval did veto Senate Bill 106 which would have raised the minimum wage by 75 cents a year until the hourly pay reaches $12.00.
Also getting his veto stamp was Senate Bill 196 which would have required that any business with 25 or more employees that have operated in the state for one year be required to give workers at least 24 hours, the equivalent to three work days, of paid leave a year. Additionally, an employer may limit the accrual of sick leave to a maximum of six days.
Senate Bill 397 would have imposed new penalties for “equal pay” complaints and opened up employers to more lawsuits. The governor vetoed the measure.
NFIB strongly supports equal employment opportunity and appropriate enforcement of the federal Equal Pay Act, which protects all employees, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Federal and state law already prohibit gender discrimination, including workplace compensation and benefits, but so-called “equal pay” legislation is typically little more than increased penalties for behavior that is already against the law. While increasing penalties may enrich a few attorneys who file questionable lawsuits against numerous small-business owners who don’t have the resources to fight frivolous cases in court, they will do little or nothing to improve wages for women.
Governor Sandoval, however, did sign Assembly Bill 423 into law, which requires the secretary of state to conduct a survey of certain businesses to collect data and information related to issues of gender equality in the workplace. Responding to the survey is optional, and it will be available when you renew your business license.
Assembly Bill 175 would have required an employer to offer hourly minimum-wage employees, at the minimum, a bronze-level insurance plan, in order for that employer to qualify for using the lowest minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for their compensation. Current law basically says you can offer employees any insurance policy you want, and if they don’t accept it, the employer has the option to pay $7.25 an hour if an employee rejects insurance coverage. The governor vetoed AB 175.
Senate Bill 253 essentially codifies into state law the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It requires employers with 15 or more employees to treat pregnant employees and applicants for employment as other employees and applicants who have similar abilities or limitations. The Act covers all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promoting and providing benefits and protects against discrimination of a person who is pregnant. SB 253 was signed into law by the governor.
Also earning Governor Sandoval’s approval was Assembly Bill 113 that requires an employer with 50 more employees to make reasonable accommodations to allow a nursing mother to express breast milk. This includes providing break time, be it paid or unpaid, and a clean room that is not a bathroom.
Nevada’s chief executive also put his pen on Assembly Bill 241 requiring counties and cities to include in their building codes a requirement that every building that contains a public restroom and is constructed on or after October 1, 2017, be equipped with one or more baby changing tables accessible to men and women.
One bill NFIB hoped would pass but it didn’t was Assembly Bill 281 which would have allowed a business whose Nevada gross revenue is $4 million or less annually to file its tax form at the same time as it renews its state business license. This would have streamlined the state registration process for more than 100,000 small businesses.
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