2-Minute Preview: Election changes, affordable housing on deck for lawmakers

Nevada News

After a slow and snowy first week, Nevada lawmakers are revving up the second week of the 120-day legislative session with scheduled hearings on affordable housing and major changes to elections.

On Monday, legislative committees have scheduled hearings on at least 18 bills, as legislators begin assessing, discussing and debating the first of hundreds of bills to be introduced throughout the session.

But major drama is expected to come Tuesday; state legislators have scheduled a joint Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Feb. 12 to discuss a yet-to-be released bill addressing a stalled 2016 voter initiative requiring background checks on most private-party gun sales or transfers.

Legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, have suggested a measure addressing the issue could coincide with the anniversary of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Several pro-gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association have rung the alarm on the scheduled hearing and complained about the alleged rushed process.

Budget committees will also continue their business, with the Assembly Ways and Means Committee hearing from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation and the Senate Finance Committee reviewing the governor and lieutenant governor’s offices.

And two of Nevada’s statewide elected officials — Attorney General Aaron Ford and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske — will brief separate committees on Monday, as part of presentations on their respective offices.

For more information on the status of bills working their way through the Legislature, check out The Nevada Independent’s bill tracker. And for the bills in committee today, check out the Legislature’s website for committee times and links to watch live committee meetings and floor sessions.

Here’s what’s on deck for state lawmakers on Monday:

Affordable Housing

Lawmakers on the Senate Committee on Government Affairs are scheduled to hear two proposals recommended by an interim legislative panel aimed at helping spur more affordable housing development.

The first, SB103, was initially recommended by the city of Reno and would allow local governments to discount or subsidize normal “impact” building fees without having to reimburse the “lost” revenue. The bill would require local governments to first determine that waiving or decreasing fees wouldn’t affect fiscal obligations or bond payments, and would also require them to hold a public hearing concerning the “economic viability of the general fund of the city or county.”

The other affordable housing bill up for discussion on Monday is SB104, which would put in place better reporting requirements for a statewide low-income housing database.

County-formed nonprofits

Requested by the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and set for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, SB13 would allow a board of county commissioners to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation to aid counties “during an emergency or a time of need in providing to residents and visitors emergency assistance or any other governmental service.” These emergency county-formed public benefit nonprofits would have all the regular powers and abilities of normal nonprofit corporations other than the ability to borrow money or levy dues, assessments or other fees.

According to a NACO summary, the bill stems from the aftermath of the 2017 mass shooting in Clark County, in which Clark County “realized” that it needed the ability to form nonprofit accounts to accept and dispense donations, which is not allowed under state law.

Election changes

Members of the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee are scheduled to hear three bills — all sponsored by Republican state senators — that would make major changes to election procedure and the ability of people to run for public office.

Sponsored by Republican Sen. James Settelmeyer, SB122 would make it more difficult for people to make last-minute party affiliation changes and then run for public office. It would require people to have declared their party affiliation prior to Dec. 31 of the year preceding the election, for nominees of both major and minor parties.

Another Settelmeyer-sponsored bill, SB118, would make the appointed position of Registrar of Voters in Clark and Washoe counties an elected office. If signed into law, the bill would allow current registrars to serve until the election in 2020, and lays out procedures for setting a salary, hiring subordinates and filling vacancies.

The committee will also hold a hearing on SB107, sponsored by Republican Sen. Pete Goicoechea and Settelmeyer, which would require the majority of prospective candidates — other than those serving on special boards like general improvement districts or irrigation districts that are already allowed to run for another office — to resign their seat if they file paperwork to run for another position, unless their current term expires within the next 12 months.

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