Assembly amendments Lombardo education bill

CARSON CITY —The Nevada Assembly unanimously passed Gov. Joe Lombardo’s big education bill Sunday night, a sign that an accord may have been reached with the Democrat-controlled Legislature on the penultimate day of the 2023 Legislature.

Assembly Bill 400 is a sweeping education bill that authorizes a city or county to sponsor a charter school in certain circumstances and creates the Early Childhood Literacy and Readiness Account as well as the Teach Nevada Scholarship Program. The bill was amended Sunday night to provide funding for transportation for charter school students.

Lombardo and Democratic lawmakers have been in a standoff since Thursday, when Lombardo vetoed a big budget bill, complaining that his education agenda had been ignored. Lawmakers reintroduced the spending plan on Saturday as Senate Bill 511.

The Assembly also passed Assembly Bill 528 — a bill sponsored by Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, to provide $100 million in matching funds for the construction of a facility for people experiencing homelessness — on a vote of 41-1. Assemblyman Richard DeLong, R-Reno, voted against it.

And Assembly Bill 286, which would require city and county jail administrators to ensure that inmates are allowed to register to vote and cast ballots, was approved by the Senate Finance Committee and now heads to the Senate floor.

LGBTQ bills vetoed

Gov. Joe Lombardo also vetoed an LGBTQ-related bill, bringing his total to 30 vetoes thus far in the 2023 session.

Senate Bill 302 would have prohibited a health care licensing board from disciplining health care providers for providing gender-affirming health care services. It would have also prohibited the governor from issuing an arrest warrant for a person who was charged in another state where it’s illegal to provide gender-affirming care.

Those services would have included hormone therapy, surgery and counseling, said Sen. James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, during an Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor on May 17.

There are 17 states where legislatures have passed statutes in which providing or receiving gender affirming services could lead to legal consequences, Ohrenschall said.

“This not only denies these individuals access to essential health care but also subjects health care providers to the risk of losing their professional licenses, damaging their reputation and potentially facing legal sanctions” said Ohrenschall.

In his veto message, signed Saturday, Lombardo said the bill inhibits the executive branch’s ability “to be certain that all gender-affirming care related to minors” aligns with state law. He also said it eroded the executive branch’s ability to ensure child safety standards for Nevadans.

“As such, I cannot support it,” he wrote.

In addition, Senate Bill 163, Las Vegas Democrat Sen. Melanie Scheible’s bill that would require certain health insurances like Medicaid to cover the costs of treatment for gender dysphoria, passed the Assembly on Sunday night, and now heads to Lombardo’s desk.

The purpose of the bill is to “ensure that for anybody who is covered by a health insurance plan, that the health insurance plan is prohibited from discriminating against them based on their gender identity or expression,” Scheible said during a hearing Saturday.

Whatever procedures, treatments or surgeries insurance companies cover for non-transgender people must also cover those services for people who are transgender, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming, Scheible said.

Lombardo signed on Wednesday Senate Bill 153 that will require the Nevada Department of Corrections to adopt standards for providing medical and mental health treatment for offenders who are transgender, gender non-conforming, gender non-binary and intersex, as well as the rules for their supervision, custody and care.

Other vetoes:

Lombardo also vetoed Senate Bill 429 on Saturday, which would have required certain new businesses to provide paid family and medical leave to employees in order to qualify for a partial abatement of certain taxes in Nevada.

Lombardo said that the bill unfairly applies to a group of businesses that are pursuing Nevada performance-based tax abatements that have more than 50 employees. He said the bill does not detail how the requirements would be regulated and does not give details on how it would apply to businesses that merge, are acquired or go bankrupt. He also argued that the bill would reduce Nevada’s competitiveness with other states in attracting talented job candidates.

“In times of economic uncertainty, strictly codified regulatory restrictions which remove options and add various preconditions create a situation where Nevada becomes less competitive without an opportunity to adapt quickly,” Lombardo wrote.

The governor blocked Senate Bill 433, a measure requiring the state Labor Commissioner to adopt regulations to determine whether prevailing wages are required to be paid on a project. In his veto message, Lombardo said the bill gave the commissioner “a disproportionate amount of authority” and that the decisions should be left up to local governments.

Lombardo also vetoed Senate Bill 251, a bill related to the transfer and reassignment of school district support staff. The bill would “significantly” restrict principals from hiring qualified individuals, according to the governor’s veto message.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Jessica Hill at [email protected]. follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter. Contact Taylor R. Avery at [email protected]. follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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