2-Minute Preview: Monday brings community colleges' NSHE breakup, the fight against opioid abuse, gift cards that last forever

With bill introduction deadlines in the rear-view mirror, Nevada lawmakers are now focusing on getting the 1,000 plus bills and resolutions approved by committees with only two weeks before the first committee deadline.

Legislators will have their hands full this week, with wide-ranging hearings scheduled on everything from energy policy to curbing drug abuse to making sure gift cards never expire.

Here’s what to watch for on Monday:

Breaking up is hard to do

A handful of former community college presidents and Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen are pushing a break from the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Outlined in AB331 is more than 270 pages proposing the creation of a new community college system independent of the existing higher education structure. While many of the provisions copy over existing NSHE rules and structures, proponents say the measure would give community colleges a better chance at receiving funding and more attention from legislators.

Opponents include NSHE Board of Regents chairman Rick Trachok and presidents of Truckee Meadows Community College and Great Basin Community College, who all claim the measure would lead to an unneeded duplication of services and create unnecessary friction between community colleges and universities.

Watch the hearing on the bill at 3:15 p.m. in the Assembly Committee on Education.

Here comes the sun (bills)

Several high-profile measures related to energy could clear their first legislative hurdle on Monday.

The Assembly Commerce and Labor Subcommittee on Energy is scheduled to review and possibly refer seven energy-related bills to the full committee, including:

  • AB206, which sets a mandated 50 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2030
  • AB270, which would restore more favorable net metering rates for rooftop solar customers
  • AB405, which creates a renewable energy “bill of rights”
  • AJR10, which expresses the Legislature’s opposition to development of a nuclear fuel storage site at the Yucca Mountain facility

The measures, which are likely to be approved, are also scheduled for hearings on Wednesday in the full Commerce and Labor committee. Watch the Monday hearing on these bills at approximately 4 p.m.

Expiring gift cards? No more!

A measures sought by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson would effectively make gift cards never expire.

Under existing law, businesses are prohibited from putting an expiration date on a gift card or certificate unless the date itself is clearly printed on the card or a toll-free telephone number is provided where customers can learn the value of the card. Under AB287, those exceptions would be removed, and placing an expiration date on a gift card would be considered a deceptive trade practice.

Watch the hearing on the bill at 8:30 a.m. in the Assembly Committee on Judiciary.

An omnibus controlled substances bill

The Legislature made a number of changes to meliorate the state’s prescription drug problem during the 2015 session by bolstering the state’s prescription drug monitoring system and expanding access to a lifesaving opioid overdose antidote as part of an omnibus substance abuse bill, SB459.

Now, the governor is back with a second omnibus controlled substance bill to make another set of specific but wide-ranging changes to continue to tackle the state’s opioid problem. AB474 will ensure all doctors are registered for the prescription drug monitoring system, change when prescribers are required to access the database, give teeth to licensing boards to act on information from the database, put caps on how much controlled substances prescribers can administer, and more. For more background, read The Nevada Independent’s story on the opioid crisis on Nevada, which includes further details about the bill.

Watch the hearing on the bill at in the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services after the adjournment of Assembly floor.

Feature photo: A student walks at the College of Southern Nevada Charleston Campus on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Photo by Jeff Scheid.