Legislature in Final Month Flush With Funds

Date: May 09, 2017

Will minimum-wage increase be on 2020 ballot?

NFIB/Nevada State Director Randi Thompson reports from Carson City on the small-business agenda with a month left in the legislative session.

With only four weeks to go before the end of the session, lawmakers are in the thick of the second round of committee hearings while the Legislature’s money committees sort through bills with a possible financial impact. Yet with less than a month to go before the end of Nevada’s 120-day legislative session, you can still count the number of bills signed into law by the Gov. Brian Sandoval on two hands. The pace of this session is slow!

The Economic Forum met May 1 and informed legislators that they will have $95.7 million more than initially expected to spend on the state’s two-year budget — and an extra $44 million for the current fiscal year. The state will have a total of $7.89 billion to spend for 2017-18, after subtracting hundreds of millions of dollars the state forgoes through tax breaks aimed at sweetening the pot to attract businesses to Nevada. The updated revenue figures are a 1.2 percent bump in tax revenue over the December forecast.

Minimum Wage

Senate Joint Resolution 6 is coming up for a hearing May 10 in the Senate Commerce Committee. This is the Democrats backup plan in case the governor vetoes Senate Bill 106. A joint resolution can’t be vetoed, but it will have to come back next session and pass, and then go to the voters in 2020 for approval.

SJR 6 proposes to amend the Constitution to increase the minimum wage:

  • If voters approve the ballot measure in November 2020, the minimum wage would be increased to $9 an hour in January 2021. Thereafter, and on an annual basis, the minimum wage must be increased by 75 cents each year until the paid minimum wage reaches $12 an hour.
  • However, if the federal minimum wage is greater than the one calculated under this resolution, the minimum wage in Nevada must equal the federal minimum wage. 
  • This amendment also allows the Legislature to raise the minimum wage, something the current constitutional amendment doesn’t allow. 
  • It would also ban the tip credit for tipped employees. It does exempt employees under age 18, people employed who work summers or after school for a non-profit, or for trainees up to 90 days. 

Plugging Budget Shortfalls

The extra $44 million that the Economic Forum gave lawmakers now has them reviewing several bills that will give more than $19 million in one-shot appropriations needed to cover shortfalls for this fiscal year. These include:

  • $22 million for the Distributive School Account, a result of an unanticipated increase in K-12 student enrollment
  • $16,391,696 to the Division of Health Care to cover larger-than-expected Medicaid caseloads in the current biennium
  • $1,327,561 to the Department of Corrections to cover an anticipated shortfall in the prison medical care budget
  • $70,387 to the Division of Emergency Management to cover the costs of setting up a joint field office with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to floods this year
  • $598,200 to the secretary of state’s office to cover credit card processing fees, and another $847,022 to the DMV to cover credit card processing fees
  • $34,000 for the shortfall in protective services for the Highway Patrol for visiting dignitaries.

Education Funding

The unexpected funding increase that the Legislature was given from the Economic Forum has many in the Legislature looking seriously at changing the 50-year-old school funding formula. They passed a bill last session that called for transitioning to a weighted funding formula by the 2021-2022 school year, which would apply more money to students who have greater needs — such as English-language learners, students in poverty, those with disabilities and gifted students.

So, expect to see much of that extra $95 million going to education.Nevada Assembly Minority Floor Leader Paul Anderson said he and his caucus will vote against the state budget if it does not include funding for education savings accounts. The governor has requested $60 million for ESA’s. So, we’ll likely see that as the bargaining chip for whatever the Democrats want. NFIB is hoping it isn’t a minimum wage increase.

Nevada Assembly Minority Floor Leader Paul Anderson said he and his caucus will vote against the state budget if it does not include funding for education savings accounts. The governor has requested $60 million for ESA’s. So, we’ll likely see that as the bargaining chip for whatever the Democrats want. NFIB is hoping it isn’t a minimum wage increase.

Bills NFIB is Tracking

The following bills are opposed by NFIB.

SB106 – Would raise the minimum wage by 75 cents a year until the hourly pay reaches $11. Over the six years of the proposed increase, and taking into consideration the additional payroll expenses employers will incur, the gross compounded impact of this wage increase is a whopping 58 percent.

AB 175 – An employer must offer prospective 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 an hour for their compensation. Current law basically says you can offer them any insurance policy you want, and if they don’t accept it, the employer has the option to pay $7.25 an hour since they rejected the insurance coverage.

For those companies that do not offer any health insurance plans to employees, this will mean an immediate $1 an hour increase to any employees pay of $7.25 an hour, unless they are part of a collective bargaining unit. The implementation date is upon passage, which could be as early as June 5, 2017.

SB 196 – Originally the bill was going to require businesses to offer employees paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. The bill has now been amended so that businesses, with 50 or more employees that have operated in the state for one year, would be required to give workers at least 24 hours, the equivalent to three work days, of paid sick leave a year. Additionally, an employer may limit the accrual of sick leave to a maximum of six days.This paid sick leave can be used for a variety of purposes

This paid sick leave can be used for a variety of purposes including employee sickness, care for a family member, or attend court hearings if the employee is a victim of domestic violence. What’s troubling is that this bill allows employees to take this leave in hourly increments, with a minimum of two hours. So, employers may now have to track and report paid sick leave on an hourly basis.

SB 361 – Requires that an employer allow any employee who’s a victim domestic violence and to any employee who has a family member who was subject to domestic violence. This bill allows up to 30 days of leave during a 12-month period, with seven of the 30 days of leave to be paid days of leave earned at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked. This provision kicks in on the 60th calendar day of employment. This paid leave would be in addition to the paid sick leave require in SB196.

AB 211 — This bill authorizes a court to award treble damages to an employee who prevails in an action or proceeding to recover unpaid wages. Applies to all employers, no matter how many employees. This would only be applied if the employer was found to have “willfully” or “intentionally” underpaid an employee.

SJR 10 – This bill would rescind the call for an Article V convention of states to pass a balanced budget amendment. NFIB strongly supports a balanced budget amendment as the only way to control the excessive spending that has occurred for the past 30 years by Congress.

Bills that NFIB supports, as it sees them helping small businesses grow and create jobs:

AB94 – This bill would repeal 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.

AB281 – This bill would allow a business whose Nevada gross revenue is $4 million or less annually to file its tax form at the same time as they renew their State Business License. This will streamline the state registration process for more than 100,000 small businesses.

SB160 – This bill would require agencies to post on their web site three working days before the hearing a new or revised regulation that will be considered at the hearing. Requires an agency to provide at least three working days’ notice of its intended action before holding a second or subsequent hearing on a regulation.

SB354 –This bill would allow certain qualified professionals from other states to apply for and receive a license by endorsement to practice their respective professions in Nevada. This will make it easier for people to start a business in Nevada.

Related Content: News | Labor | Minimum Wage | Nevada | Paid Leave | State Budget

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