It’s bound to be a very long day Monday as week seven of the Nevada Legislature kicks off with one of the first major deadlines of the session. But between scores of bill introductions, legislators will also keep busy hearing measures dealing with the refinancing of student loans and formal opposition to the proposed nuclear waste storage site at Yucca Mountain.
Here’s what to watch for:
More bills on the way
Monday marks one of the first important deadlines for the 63 individual members of the Legislature — it’s last day that individual lawmakers can introduce bills. Legislators, lobbyists, staff and journalists alike are expecting a long day in Carson City, with several floor sessions likely and late-night meetings needed to get out all of the bills — possibly more than 100 in both the Assembly and Senate — before the deadline.
There are exceptions: bills requested by committees have one more week before their deadline to be introduced.
The treasurer’s budget
Treasurer Dan Schwartz will make another appearance at the Legislative Building on Monday at the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
The committee will discuss budget accounts within the treasurer’s office including the Nevada College Savings Trust, the Millennium Scholarship Administration and Unclaimed Property. Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget calls for a one-time, $20 million payment toward the popular, merit-based Millennium Scholarship fund, which is expected to keep the account solvent until mid-2019.
Several of Schwartz’s recent appearances before a legislative committee have been marked with tension, with one legislator comparing the treasurer’s behavior to spitting “in the Legislature’s face and (expecting) a warm handshake in return.”
Watch the hearing at 8 a.m. in Assembly Ways and Means.
Tissue and organ donation
Two Reno-area state senators are teaming up on a bill that could expand how many students learn about tissue and organ donation.
Democratic Sen. Julia Ratti and Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer are the two sponsors of SB112 which would require certain public and charter school health classes to contain information on organ and tissue donation, including instruction on how to register as a donor and the societal benefits of doing so.
Several individual school districts and the Department of Education filed fiscal notes with the bill over concerns about the cost of developing and implementing courses and material on organ and tissue donation. The measure passed out of the Senate Education Committee on March 9, but was referred to a budget committee for its potential financial impact.
Watch the hearing at 8 a.m. in the Senate Finance Committee.
Refinancing student loans and teaching about debt
Democratic Senate Leader Aaron Ford wants to allow residents of Nevada to refinance certain student loans. His bill, SB90, would call on Nevada’s Department of Business and Industry to create the program to do so and authorize the issuance of revenue bonds to pay for it.
It also calls on the state to provide more information about student debt to schools and consumers, including ranking lenders by their interest rates and overall favorability toward borrowers. The state would also need to tabulate how deeply in debt the students at Nevada colleges are and report back to the Legislature. Ford introduced a similar bill last session, but it didn’t pass.
Watch the hearing at 1 p.m. in the Senate Government Affairs Committee.
Fast track voting for people with disabilities
Voters with disabilities who are physically unable to wait in line to vote would get a fast track to the front under SB117. The bill — sponsored by Republican Sen. James Settelmeyer — requires a process for those voters to cast their ballots before other able-bodied voters do so.
Existing law simply requires that polling places are accessible to elderly and disabled voters, and have a special booth to serve them. Watch the hearing at 3:30 p.m. in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee.
Opposing Yucca Mountain
Last week, the White House released a summary of its 2018 fiscal budget plan, which calls for $120 million to restart licensing activities for the long-stalled nuclear waste dump in Nye County.
The Assembly Commerce and Labor’s Subcommittee on Energy will hear a resolution on Monday afternoon opposing the development of Yucca Mountain as a repository for spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste. AJR10 was introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Chris Brooks on Wednesday, hours before President Donald Trump’s budget summary was released later that night.
Nevada lawmakers’ resolution calls on U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to find Yucca Mountain unsuitable for storing nuclear waste and to explore alternative strategies for dealing with radioactive waste.
The subcommittee will meet 20 minutes after the 1:30 p.m. meeting of the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor adjourns.