Lawmakers have a busy day on tap Wednesday, from a vote to ratify the highly symbolic but stalled Equal Rights Amendment to a measure that gives child victims of sexual assault more time to sue the perpetrators.
They’ll also take up one of the state’s biggest budget items — public education, including the basic per-pupil funding account and the funds that back Gov. Brian Sandoval’s ambitious education reforms from 2015.
Here are some of the highlights:
Equal Rights Amendment vote
Wednesday is the first day of Women’s History Month, and Democrats in the Nevada Senate predict it will bring victory for SJR2, which would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
The Senate vote comes 35 years after the congressionally approved ratification deadline in 1982. The proposed constitutional amendment fell three states short of the 38 needed to win ratification.
A hearing for the resolution in February drew a huge crowd. Many supporters see passing the bill as a symbolic gesture showing Nevada’s support for gender equality. But others are hopeful that the ERA could actually be resurrected by Congress, pointing to a U.S. Supreme Court decision indicating that Congress has the authority to determine an amendment is valid if ratifications are made within a reasonable period of time, even after the deadline.
Opponents, many who cut their teeth in politics by opposing ratification in the 1970s, raised concerns that it would allow access to abortion without limits and subject women to the draft and military combat.
Tune in to the Senate floor session around 11 a.m.
Plan to increase school funding
State funding for education takes center stage at an 8 a.m. budget committee hearing, where lawmakers will review the main fund that pays for public schools — the Distributive School Account. School funding is supported by both state and local tax revenue, but the state guarantees at least $5,774 in per-pupil funding this school year.
Sandoval’s budget would raise basic per-pupil funding up to $5,900 in the upcoming school year and $5,967 the years after that.
Lawmakers will also go over the portions of the budget that fund Sandoval’s main education initiatives from 2015, including Read by 3, Gifted and Talented Education and the Social Workers in Schools program. Sandoval’s budget calls for continuing or increasing funds for those programs — an independent evaluation recommended keeping money flowing to those initiatives while acknowledging it’s too early to get solid data on exactly how they’re affecting student achievement.
Extending child sexual assault statute of limitations
Lawmakers are reaching across the aisle to support a bill helping people who were victims of sexual assault or child pornography but might take years to come to terms with what happened to them.
Under AB145, the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit in child sex assault cases would jump from 10 years to 20 years after a child turns 18. The statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit in a child pornography case would extend from three to 20 years after a child turns 18 or after a verdict is entered in a case.
The bill is backed by Republican Lisa Krasner and Democrat Irene Bustamante Adams, the latter of whom sponsored a measure last session to extend the statute of limitations on sexual assault. That drew testimony from a woman who said she was a victim of Bill Cosby but took years to finally report the alleged abuse to the police.
A celebrity guest will be in Carson City for the hearing — high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who’s represented notable clients ranging from the family of Nicole Brown Simpson to Bill Cosby accusers.
Watch the meeting at 8 a.m. in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Bringing energy efficiency upgrades to poorer households
At least 5 percent of the money a utility allocates to energy efficiency measures would go to low-income households under a bill, AB223, backed by Democratic Assemblyman William McCurdy.
Ratepayers are already supporting energy efficiency measures, such as weatherizing windows and insulating homes to keep the heat out in the summer, through a surcharge on their electrical bills.
Electrical costs can chew up a large chunk of low-income Nevadans’ budgets, but they often live in the oldest homes that are the least energy efficient. McCurdy says it’s only fair that they get in on the improvements.
Efficiency projects can also create more jobs for construction workers and tradesmen.
Watch the hearing around mid-afternoon.