“Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight. Ohhhh, back to school. Back to school. Back to school. Well, here goes nothing.”
– Billy Madison
As we write this month’s newsletter, Carson City is being blanketed in snow while legislators, lobbyists, and press all converge in Northern Nevada. Indeed, when it’s quiet, you can almost hear the local children practicing “Home Means Nevada” one last time before it’s showtime on the floor of the State Senate and Assembly chambers. Yet, despite the pomp and circumstance, reality has set in that although we are hurtling toward the constitutionally-mandated beginning of the biennial legislative session with a brand new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller and Treasurer, as well as many, many freshman legislators, there are strikingly few bills to review, which makes predicting the direction this legislature intends to move our small state incredibly difficult.
Nonetheless, the 80th Legislative Session will gavel-in on February 4, 2019 whether there’s a plan or not, so kicking off the NAIOP monthly updates with a bit of positivity seemed most appropriate. And what better way to do that than to talk about workforce development, apprenticeships, proposed grant funding and a possible appropriation for federal lands?
Lack of skilled labor is a national issue with profound adverse economic repercussions in smaller states. Workforce development has always been a priority for NAIOP and something the organization consistently supported in recent years at the legislature. Two pre-filed bills are intended to bolster the state’s workforce development programs. Assembly Bill 32 offers an expansion of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s current workforce recruitment and assessment programs to include programs for non-profit organizations, as well as existing employees of a participating employer. Should this bill pass, the expanded training and recruitment opportunities for participating employers will allow businesses to grow organically from the inside and provide better workplace opportunities for their employees. In addition, Assembly Bill 68 aligns Nevada’s apprenticeship programs with federal law and moves all of the state’s apprenticeship programs under the Office of Workforce Innovation. The bill is intended to move Nevada into a position where it may benefit from federal programs which were previously unreachable due to structural issues created by antiquated or ill-written state statutes. In increasing opportunities for apprenticeships, AB 68 takes aim at increasing workforce development in the state.
Senate Bill 96 seeks to enhance Nevada’s ability to maintain and develop its public lands by creating a state-level grant program aimed at awarding municipalities funds they need to evidence matching funds, which will qualify the municipalities for federal grants. As we continue to work toward a funding source for the infrastructure bank created by AB 399 in the 2017 Legislative Session, these grants could prove to be an important step toward enhancement of federal lands throughout the state.
As we move through the session, bills such as the three mentioned here can provide a lot of positivity in what can be an otherwise tough 120 days. In a world of partisanship, political fist fights, and substantial unknowns, the ability to support legislation which benefits all stakeholders and the state itself increases the pie, raises all boats, is a win-win, and a dozen other clichés for good things. But importantly, they ultimately benefit the commercial real estate industry; a good omen indeed for NAIOP and its members.
ODDS & ENDS
Mark Twain, though commonly thought of as a Nevadan, only lived in Nevada from 1861-1864. However, the brief time Twain spent in Nevada is often referred to as among the most impactful on his life and works. To that end, and in the spirit of the beginning of the 80th Session of the Nevada Legislature, the following quote seems appropriate: