The Nevada State Legislature 80th session had many wins for the residents of Nevada.
The session began on February 4 and closed at the stroke of midnight on June 3, 2019. This session was different than previous sessions due to a Democratic majority in both the State Assembly and Senate. And for the first time in the history of Nevada, most of the legislators are women.
The Nevada State Legislature is comprised of 21 State Senators and 42 Assemblymembers. Nevada’s Legislature meets in odd-numbered years for only 120 days. In this session, the elected representatives in both houses introduced a total of 1102 bills. All but three of the bills passed were signed into law by Governor Steve Sisolak.
Of those bills, the IBEW 1245 Retirees Clubs and Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans members supported 42 pieces of legislation that focused on the important senior issues of medical and prescription costs, guardianships and estates, food security and affordable housing. Twenty-three of these bills were passed and signed into law.
During the session, I was privileged to be a lobbyist representing seniors and our retirees. I attended many hearings and testified on several bills. Many of those passed with little to no opposition.
Some of the bills we supported that passed and became law include:
- SB70, which will provide for a new tax on the transfer of real property to provide funding for affordable housing for the homeless.
- SB178, which creates the “Food for People not Landfills” program in Nevada.
- SB443, which increases funding for senior meals programs.
- SB447, which exempts durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment and mobility enhancing equipment from state sales tax.
During the 80th session, I also attended weekly lobbyist meetings held by the Nevada State AFL-CIO. There were lobbyists from many other unions representing workers in various jobs. These lobbyists worked many long hours and were successful in getting several bills passed to help all the workers in Nevada.
Some of the highlights are as follows:
- Prevailing wage in Nevada has been restored to 100%, after it was cut in the 2015 legislative session with the passage of three bills, AB136, AB190 & SB243.
- For the first time in Nevada, certain state employees will have collective bargaining rights. SB135 was passed and signed into law effective June 12, 2019.
- The biggest win for Nevada workers was the passage & signing of AB456. This will result in an increase in the minimum wage in Nevada from $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour by 2024.
IBEW Local 1245 supported two bills, SB329 and SB547, which both passed. SB547 modifies Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) chapter 704B to change the rate structure so that when companies exit the grid it will not affect other customer classes negatively. SB 329 is the Wildfire bill which requires a plan for the maintenance of power lines to help prevent wildfires like California experienced in the past several years.
I was very privileged to be asked to attend the signing of SB329 by Governor Sisolak on May 20, 2019. It is an important bill for the safety of all the residents of Nevada, and requires our trained electrical workers and tree trimmers to do the work.
–Rita Weisshaar, IBEW 1245 Organizing Steward and Retirees Club member