Past NFIB Nevada Legislative Victories

Date: August 10, 2015

From the 2017 session

Won Regulatory Reform Victory
Signed into law by Governor Sandoval, Senate Bill 160 now requires state agencies to be more forthcoming with new regulations by posting a draft, or any revisions of a regulation online, three working days before a regulatory hearing. NFIB worked with the bill’s sponsor before the session on crafting that language needed to help small businesses receive more notice about regulations that impact them.

Made Permanent Business Resource Centers
Also earning the governor’s signature was Assembly Bill 94, which makes the NV Grow Program permanent and provides funding to the Small Business Development Centers in Clark and Washoe county. The timeliness of this measure came at the right time, as the latest Optimism Index put out by NFIB shows finding qualified workers back to being a major concern of small business owners.

Enhanced Small Business Financing
Assembly Bill 436 is another law winning the governor’s nod. It requires the secretary of state, the Office of Economic Development, and the Regional Business Development Advisory Council for Clark County to provide small and disadvantaged businesses with information concerning public and private programs to obtain financing for small businesses.

Saved Construction-Defect Law
Although a victory from the previous session, Assembly Bill 462 would have rolled back the reforms that passed the last session on construction defects. NFIB, along with lobbyist from the chambers, insurance and construction, all opposed the bill. The unity within the business community was a death knell for this attempt to weaken the construction defect law.

Refined Nursing Mothers Bill
Seeing its inevitable passage and signing into law by the governor, NFIB worked with the sponsor of Assembly Bill 113 that requires employers 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 private, clean room that is not a bathroom. NFIB met with Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, the bill’s main sponsor, and explained the burden this would have on small businesses with limited space. She agreed to amend the bill to apply to employers with 50 more employees, which is consistent with federal law, and to allow some flexibility related to the private space.

Adjusted Restroom Legislation
Assembly Bill 241 now requires local governments to include in their building codes a rule that buildings that contain a public restroom and is constructed after October 1, 2017, be equipped with baby changing tables in the men’s and women’s restrooms. NFIB opposed the original bill that was going to require all existing businesses with public bathrooms to add changing stations. After meeting with the business community, the bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Justin Watkins and Speaker Jason Frierson, agreed to amend it to apply only to future construction.

Modified Equal Pay Survey
Assembly Bill 423 and Senate Bill 343 originally called for mandatory businesses participation in a survey on equal pay. After meeting with NFIB, the measures’ key sponsors, Assemblywomen Brittney Miller and Maggie Carlton and Senators Patricia Farley and Becky Harris agreed to make the survey voluntary. The survey will be conducted by the secretary of state.

Altered Pregnancy Accommodation Proposal
Senate Bill 253 establishes the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act and requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to female employees and applicants who are pregnant. NFIB worked with Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro, the bill’s lead sponsor, to limit the burden to employers, including reducing possible violations to ensure that employers would not be subject to more lawsuits.

Defeated Minimum-Wage Bill
Thanks to the strong lobbying efforts from NFIB members, the governor vetoed Senate Bill 106, which would have raised the minimum wage by 75 cents a year until the hourly pay reached $12. The minimum wage is an entry level wage earned mostly by teens and young adults

Stopped Paid Leave Measure
Also vetoed was Senate Bill 196, which would have required that any business with 25 or more employees give workers at least 24 hours of paid leave a year. The good news is that the vast majority of businesses already offer paid or unpaid time off, and for any reason the employee chooses: sickness, care for a family member, parental duties, personal or family member victim of domestic violence, etc. (see infographic here). Also, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act “provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. The rigid nature of state mandates only interferes with the agreements employees and employers have come to that is beneficial for both.

Killed Health Insurance Mandate
Assembly Bill 175 was also vetoed. It would have required employers who pay minimum wage to offer health insurance plans roughly equivalent to a “bronze” level plan under the Affordable Care Act.

For 30 consecutive years, the cost of health care has been a small-business owner’s No. 1 worry—out of 75 concerns measured by NFIB. The lion’s share of the credit for the problem goes to Washington D.C., but states do their part to exacerbate the crisis by passing more and more mandates on insurers who pass the cost along to small businesses in the former of higher premiums—at least to those who can still afford to provide their employees with health care. NFIB/Nevada will continue its battle to make health care affordable to a broader base of consumers by opposing state mandates that only drives insurance farther out of reach for Main Street enterprises.

Halted Lawsuit-Boosting Equal Pay Bill
Small business is also grateful for Governor Sandoval’s veto of Senate Bill 397, which would have imposed new penalties for “equal pay” complaints and exposed employers to more lawsuits.

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 proposed in states are 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. 

Beat Back Triple-Damages Bill
NFIB worked to kill many bills before they could get to the governor’s desk, including Assembly Bill 211, which would have allowed an employee to be paid triple damages if they were successful in winning a case against their employer related to wage violations. NFIB also helped kill Assembly Bill 178, which would have made small-business employers more vulnerable to employment lawsuits.

From the 2015 session

Stopped a minimum wage increase
Senate Bill 93 started out as a way to fix Nevada’s antiquated overtime bill, but it was amended to increase Nevada’s minimum wage by 75 cents. Several NFIB members provided testimony and letters showing that increasing minimum wage leads to an increase for all wages, not just those being paid minimum wage, and that increasing it actually hurts part-time and young workers disproportionally. The overtime portion of the bill was watered down during the session, and NFIB, along with other business groups, fought to kill the bill that would have hurt all businesses in Nevada.  
 
Exempted small businesses from the new Commerce Tax
Reducing taxes on entrepreneurs is a critical for NFIB, and we fought hard against the commerce tax that was created in the 2015 Legislature. While we opposed the tax, we fought to ensure that small business would not be hurt by it and supported exempting the first $4 million of a business’ revenue from the tax. We also supported eliminating the payroll tax on the first $200,000 of a business’s payroll.  
 
Improved Nevada’s Construction Defect Law
Nevada had the worst home construction defect law in the nation, and it has affected not just companies that build homes, but the many businesses that support that industry, such as landscapers, electricians, window installers, realtors, and even insurance providers. This bad law has increased the price of homes and forced dozens of businesses around the state to close. NFIB supported Assembly Bill125 that stopped the practice of allowing attorneys to automatically collect fees and extort money from contractors and subcontractors by threatening them with writing a check or going to court — whether or not they had anything to do with the defect. The bill also changed the definition of a “defect” and reduced the ability for class action suits that had historically benefitted attorneys and not homeowners. NFIB members have already reported a reduction in their insurance rates with the passage of this bill. 
 
Pushed for business liability reform
Nevada’s civil litigation system has discouraged businesses from moving here, as well as hurt businesses based in Nevada. Excessive liability damage and punitive awards are counter-productive to Nevada’s economy. NFIB supported many tort reform bills in the 2015 session, including Senate Bill134, which placed limits on surety bonds for small business, and Senate Bill160, which changed the trespass liability laws to better protect business owners. 
 
Protected independent contractors and the businesses that hire them
Protecting a person’s ability to be self-employed is a key issue for the NFIB. NFIB was a strong supporter of AB224, a bill that better defines who is an independent contractor. The bill will help protect businesses and individuals who chose to work together on a contractual rather than an employment basis by providing a clear definition for “independent contractor.”
 
From the 2013 session
 
Eliminated Payroll Tax for Small Businesses
In 2009, the Legislature eliminated the tax on the first $250,000 of a business’ payroll.  In the 2013 session that exemption was raised to $340,000. Reducing taxes on entrepreneurs is a top priority for NFIB, and extending this tax reduction is one way to help small-business owners during tough economic times. 
 
Killed Tax Increases on Small-Business Owners
NFIB worked to stop several proposed taxes, including:
  • an increase on the mining tax
  • a 4.5 percent tax on any business with an income over $500,000
  • a sales and property tax increase in Washoe County
  • an entertainment and admissions tax
  • a tax on snack foods     
Stopped Bills Aimed at Punishing Contractors and Businesses That Hire Them
Two bills would have made it essentially illegal to be self-employed, by substantially narrowing the definition of whom an independent contractor could be and what an independent contractor could do. The bills would have also punish companies who hire independent contractors.
 
Blocked Health-Care Mandates 
Nevada already has more than 50 requirements on health plans, while neighboring Idaho has only 15. NFIB defeated additional proposals such as mandating acupuncture treatments. We will continue to oppose all new health-care mandates and fight to hold down the costs of health insurance.
 
From the 2011 session
 
Helped cut the size of government
NFIB lobbied for the successful passage of Senate Bill 251 out of that chamber. As of this writing it is also expected to pass the House, but even if it should falter, Gov. Brian Sandoval has promised to implement the important parts of it by executive order. The bill would create a Sunset Commission to evaluate government and services with an eye toward opportunities to eliminate redundant rules and agencies and consolidate the tasks of others. The Commission is one of the top recommendations of the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE).

Killed three bills aimed at punishing independent contractors
NFIB made defeat of Senate Bills 147, 148, and 242 its top priority of the 2011 session. All three would have made it effectively illegal to be self-employed by substantially narrowing the definition of who an independent contractor could be and what an independent contractor could do. During this recession many people are frustrated at not finding a job, so some are starting their own small business, but these bills would have made that virtually impossible. Additionally, the measures aimed to limit a company’s ability to use independent contractors at a time when many businesses can not afford to hire full-time staff and rely on contractors for needed extra help.

Blocked attempts to increase health-insurance premiums
Every time lawmakers come up with a new medical procedure to saddle health insurers before they allow them to sell policies, the immediate effect is to drive up insurance premiums and push medical coverage farther and farther out of the financial reach of small business owners. Assembly Bill 89, adding acupuncture treatment, was another such mandate that NFIB worked to defeat, and succeeded.  NFIB also continued its push to allow insurers the ability to tailor health-care plans to fit their customers’ needs rather than the edicts of state government. This is the only way to broaden coverage to the uninsured.

Defeated a proposed gas tax increase
NFIB opposed a proposal to raise the state’s tax on a gallon of gas.  Supporters floated a trial balloon for boosting the gas tax, Assembly Bill 507, by two cents to a total of 19.65 cents. NFIB help popped that balloon.

Killed measures to apply the state sales tax to bottled water and snack foods
Assembly Bill 218 would have applied the state sales tax to include bottled water, which is currently exempt as it considered a food item. Assembly Bill 399 would add a five-cent tax onto snack foods. NFIB helped persuade legislators that taxing snack foods, often called sin taxes, would not bring enough revenue to recoup the cost to the state of keeping records on this income, and that taxing bottled water was an unfair levy on people who need it as much as food.

From the 2009 session

Defeated healthcare mandates for eating disorders and acupuncture
NFIB/Nevada succeeded in stopping two healthcare mandates on eating disorders and acupuncture from passage. Mandates, which are orders by state government to add more and more conditions to basic healthcare plans, drive up the cost of medical coverage and put farther out of affordability range for small business owners.

Stopped anti-employer workers’ compensation bills
Working with other business association, NFIB/Nevada was successful in defeating a number of bills that would have driven up the cost of workers’ compensation rates.  One bill would have required an employer, not an employee, to bear the burden of proof in showing an injury occurred at work. Another measure would have created a new cause-of-action lawsuit.  Senate Bill 195, a compromise measure, did eventually pass and was signed into law by Gov. Jim Gibbons. Although it includes some provisions NFIB/Nevada testified against, including one that prevents injury awards from reflecting the most recent cost saving medical advances and treatments, SB 195 was far better than what was being pushed by the labor lobby and should not result in significant changes in how the workers’ compensation system is administered in Nevada.

Prevented passage of medical malpractice bill that would have increased premiums
NFIB/Nevada helped defeat Assembly Bill 495, which would have removed the $350,000 cap for noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, had it passed. Proponents argued that the removal would only have been for cases of gross negligence on the doctor’s part.  But upon closer inspection, it also would have provided incentives to file lawsuits on many alleged cases of gross negligence. Although it passed the Assembly, NFIB helped kill it in the Senate. Had it become law, the cost of insurance premiums would have shot up.

Killed unfair trade practices proposal that would have boosted costs on small business owners
Assembly Bill 22 narrowly escaped becoming law. In spite of NFIB’s opposition, it managed to pass both houses of the legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Jim Gibbons. The legislature later tried, but failed, to override the Governor’s veto. Had it become law, AB 22 would have opened up businesses accused of deceptive trade practices to expensive litigation, including class-action lawsuits, rather than have such accusations adjudicated, as they are now in the less expensive administrative/governmental process. 

Prior years’ legislative victories

Defeated business profits tax
NFIB was instrumental in defeating the proposed 4 percent business net profits tax. This would have taxed small-business owners an additional 4 percent on any net profits.

Defeated gross receipts tax
NFIB led the fight to defeat this legislation that would have levied a 1 percent tax on gross sales to business. Businesses that fund 100 percent of health insurance premiums for their employees would have been exempted from this tax. An undue burden would be placed on small business.

Successfully defended the right to work law, ensuring that employers retain hiring and firing authority
By defending the state’s ‘right to work’ status, NFIB continues to ensure that Nevada employers can make the hiring and firing decisions for their own businesses.

Stopped frivolous lawsuits, helping keep legal and insurance costs down
NFIB/Nevada joined forces with business interests across nearly all industries to defeat Question 4 on the November 2004 ballot, which would have placed virtually no limits on trial lawyers’ ability to file frivolous lawsuits.

Defended Nevada’s right-to-work status
Under the guise of a “fair share agreement” various labor groups launched a direct attack on Nevada’s right-to-work law by attempting to apply a court decision from a public employee case to all workplaces.

Strengthened small-business impact statements
Worked to clarify and strengthen how business impact statements of local ordinances and regulations are developed and produced by local governments.

Defeated immediate and indexing minimum wage increase
Unions attempted to impose an immediate increase in the minimum wage as well as benchmarking it to the federal minimum wage and creating an automatic annual increase based on the CPI.

Lowered the business payroll tax rate
The Modified Business Payroll Tax for businesses (except financial institutions) was lowered to .63 percent (down from .65 percent) for the 2005-2007 biennium. The reduction expires on June 30, 2007, unless extended by a future legislature.

Supported replenishing the Rainy Day fund
Nevada’s Rainy Day fund was drawn down significantly in the 2003-2004 budget. This year’s revenue increases were, in part, placed back into the fund to hopefully lessen the need for increased taxes in future years.

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