Government Affairs Report – June 2017

“You must understand, my dear: On the stroke of twelve, the spell will be broken, and everything will be as it was before.”

Fairy Godmother

And so it goes in Carson City. The 79th Nevada Legislative Session will adjourn at midnight on June 6th, and although only time will tell how the 2017 Session is ultimately judged, the sheer lack of “groundbreaking” legislation indicates this Session is destined for an unimpressive moniker. Whether we call it a “3 and out”, or a “1-2-3 inning”, the stark reality is the 79th Legislative Session will, in all likelihood, not be known for moving the needle on significant business issues – whether those issues are pro-business or business-adverse. Rather, 2017 appears to be headed toward a “tie” – lots of exciting plays, but nothing gets settled at the end of the game except a hefty bar tab.

Heading into sine die, the bills NAIOP was tracking have whittled down to a handful of active legislation. Highlights include:

SJR 14

The Resolution seeking to amend the Nevada Constitution continues to make its way through the Legislature, and had its final committee hearing before the Assembly Committee on Taxation on May 30, 2017. The Resolution was voted out of Committee on party lines, with all Republican members voting against. Notably all Republican Senators, save Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, voted against this Resolution as well. Despite the fact this Resolution does not raise taxes in any way, shape, or form, there apparently remains antagonism to even discussing “reset on sale” as an alternative solution to Nevada’s real property tax caps. That said, sufficient support exists to pass this Resolution, and such is our expectation.

AB 399 / SB 517

The companion transportation / utility infrastructure bills both remain active, though SB 517 has considerably more momentum. SB 517 had its final committee hearing on May 31, 2017 before the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs, and will hopefully be voted out of Committee hastily. These two bills, despite their respective popularity and bi-partisan support, continue to cause confusion among legislators who believe these measures are economic development incentives (i.e., state money spent), as opposed to economic development programs, which do not receive state funds, but are set up to receive federal dollars should such become available. A priority of the Southern Nevada Forum, we expect the Legislature will pass SB 517.

SB 149

SB 149 authorizes the RTC to enter into transit-oriented development agreements with mixed use residential and commercial developments designed to promote public transit, and with local governments on high capacity transit projects. Although this bill cruised through the Senate, it was held in the Assembly due to consternation over competitive and prevailing wage issues. NAIOP worked with the City of Las Vegas, the RTC and the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce to dislodge the bill. The Assembly voted 37-4 to pass the bill, and it is headed to Gov. Sandoval.

Prevailing Wage Legislation

In previous updates, we mentioned three prevailing wage bills NAIOP is monitoring due to the bills’ attempt to apply prevailing wage to charter school projects – projects funded with purely private dollars. NAIOP opposed these bills, not because of any philosophical opposition to prevailing wage, but rather, because the application of prevailing wage to charter school projects creates a precedent to the application of prevailing wage to other projects financed by private funds. The present status of the bills is:

AB 154

Assemblyman Chris Brooks worked with NAIOP to remove references to charter schools from his bill. In return, NAIOP moved its position to neutral on his bill. AB 154 passed from the Senate, and was sent to Gov. Sandoval, who vetoed it.

AB 406

NAIOP strongly opposed this bill. Accordingly, Assemblyman Skip Daly removed references to charter schools, and made substantial other amendments to the bill. However, AB 406 is currently entombed in Assembly Ways & Means, and is likely to die there.

SB 173

NAIOP worked with Senator Yvanna Cancela to remove language applying prevailing wage to privately-financed projects in Achievement Schools. Prior to a formal amendment, and at NAIOP’s request, Legislative Counsel confirmed on the record SB 173 will not apply prevailing wage to such projects. Based on this interpretation, NAIOP moved its position to neutral. Sen. Cancela’s bill then passed out of the Assembly and was sent to Gov. Sandoval, who vetoed it.

Odds & Ends

Abandoning an animal is a criminal act in Nevada. However, feral cats reproduce at an alarming rate, and many carry diseases which can be a danger to each other, other animals and humans. SB 411 creates an exemption to existing criminal law, to allow for the capture, vaccination, sterilization, and release of feral cats. This bill passed out of the Senate unanimously, and passed on a party-line vote in the Assembly. The bill is now awaiting signature by Gov. Sandoval, who is certainly ready for this Legislative Session to end…right MEOW.

We’ll see you all in a week!

Jon & Kerrie

 

Jonathan P. Leleu, Shareholder
Kerrie Kramer, Assistant Director

Greenberg Traurig, LLP | Suite 400 North
3773 Howard Hughes Parkway | Las Vegas, Nevada 89169
Tel 702.599.8070 | Fax 702.925.2316 | Cell 702.541.1500
leleuj@gtlaw.com | www.gtlaw.com