It’s already Day 23 at the Nevada Legislature, and lawmakers, staffers, lobbyists and reporters are doing their best to keep up with the flurry of bills, hearings and floor votes.
Here’s a sampling of what to keep your eye on today:
Money committees take up NSHE’s budget
If you care about the Nevada System of Higher Education, you’ll want to stop by or tune in to the 8 a.m. meeting of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Subcommittees on K-12/Higher Education. They’ll be taking up NSHE’s budget, which is roughly $1.9 billion over the biennium.
Some of the system’s so-called “base budget” or “maintenance” items include raises, enrollment growth and funding for UNLV’s new medical school.
The system is asking for $6.9 million for cost of living adjustments and merit increases to recruit and retain faculty. They’ll also be asking for $57.2 million to deal with “caseload growth,” which basically means changes in the number credits completed by students. An additional $13 million will go toward building the UNLV School of Medicine.
The system wants another $10 million over the biennium to double the funding for the Silver State Opportunity Grant, a need-based financial aid program created in 2015. NSHE is also requesting that funding for the grant become a permanent part of the system’s budget.
Treasurer’s and controller's offices no more?
A proposed constitutional amendment to abolish the offices of the treasurer and controller is up for its first hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
The measure, AJR6, would transfer those officers’ responsibilities to others within the executive branch. The offices would continue to exist until the duties are transferred and until the officials currently serving in those posts finish out their terms.
Language in the amendment, proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, suggests that the functions performed by the controller and treasurer are similar to those by the Department of Administration and the Office of Finance in the governor’s office and that eliminating the positions will “improve the efficiency of the fiscal management of the State, reduce costs to taxpayers and reduce the overall size of State Government.”
No guns in libraries?
While the always-controversial campus carry proposal has yet to surface this legislative session, lawmakers and legislative observers will get a taste of some of the most bitter battles of the 2015 session with the first hearing of SB115, which is set for 1:30 p.m.
The bill, which is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mo Denis and Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, would add libraries to the list of public buildings where carrying a concealed firearm is prohibited.
Concealed weapon permit holders would be able to petition the board of a public library for written permission to carry there, similar to current law on carrying concealed firearms on Nevada public college campuses.
The issue came to light last year when a Las Vegas woman was handcuffed and eventually banned from a public library after open-carrying a gun into the building.
Expanding access to computer science classes
All high school students attending public or charter schools in Nevada will have the opportunity to take computer science classes if a bill put forward by Senate Democrats becomes law.
The Senate Education Committee will hear a bill, SB200, at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday that would require all public high schools and charter schools to offer at least one state board-approved computer science class. The legislation, part of Democrats’ so-called “Nevada Blueprint,” would also require districts to make efforts to increase enrollment in those courses among female students and those students who belong to ethnic and racial groups traditionally underrepresented in the computer science field.
Students would be able to apply one unit of credit of their computer science coursework toward the total number of credits in math or science required to graduate high school. The legislation would also require kids to learn some computer and technology skills before they enter sixth grade.