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Lawmakers pass school funding formula overhaul to end session

(KOLO)
Published: Jun. 2, 2019 at 4:46 PM PDT
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The Latest on the final day of the

session (all times local):

12:20 a.m.

A bill that aims to overhaul how Nevada allocates its education funds has passed the Legislature and is headed to Gov. Steve Sisolak's desk.

Lawmakers in the state Assembly passed the measure in a 34-7 vote near the end of the legislative session and the Senate quickly gave a final approval with a voice vote. All Assembly Democrats voted in support of the measure, along with some Republicans.

The bill aims to provide extra funds for students who need more education support, including pupils who receive free or reduced meals or are learning English.

(

Statement from Washoe County Schools Superintendent Traci Davis:

On behalf of our 64,000 students, their families, and our more than 8,000 employees, I want to thank Gov. Steve Sisolak and our state lawmakers for supporting our educational mission.

We are profoundly grateful for the hard work and dedication of Gov. Sisolak, our state representatives, LCB fiscal staff, the Nevada Department of Education, and Finance Office staff members whose efforts have resulted in increased support and resources for our students and schools.

We look forward to working together in the future as we prepare our students for the world and workplaces of the 21st century.)

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12:10 a.m.

Nevada lawmakers approved a campaign finance measure after an amendment stripped a major provision that created a new reporting requirement.

An amendment to the bill brought by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro cuts a major provision that would have required organizations that donate more than $10,000 annually to report the contributions.

The repealed provision would have applied to corporations, partnerships and labor unions. It was unclear Monday why lawmakers included the last-minute change.

The bill still clarifies the rules about personal use of campaign funds and bans candidates from paying themselves a salary with contributions.

The state Senate gave final approval in a voice vote minutes before they ended the legislative session. The approval came quickly after the Assembly approved the measure.

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9:55 p.m.

The Clark County Schools District says it will be able to provide pay raises for teachers after legislation from state lawmakers.

A statement from the district, one of the largest in the nation, says they will be able to provide a 3% cost of living pay raise and an average 2% "seniority increase" to employees.

The pay raises were outlined in a proposed budget from Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Attention to education funding this session has at times centered on whether the Legislature can find enough money to fund the raises. Senate Democrats say a bill approved Monday will provide $53 million to teacher pay raises in Clark County over the biennium.

District Superintendent Jesu Jara issued a statement saying "we stand with Governor Sisolak and the Legislature in support of our educators."

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9:20 p.m.

Nevada lawmakers approved a proposal to amend the state Constitution to bar discrimination based on sex, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and other traits.

The measure must still be approved by the Legislature again in their next session in 2021 and then approved by Nevada voters on the ballot before the constitution is amended.

The bill was introduced on Thursday and several lawmakers acknowledged they had some concerns the measure wasn't receiving a full debate with so few days to be heard. But they voted to advance the bill regardless, noting that they have more than two years to vet the idea.

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9:10 p.m.

Nevada lawmakers passed a bill extending a payroll tax set to expire this summer in order to pay for some school safety initiatives and teacher pay raises.

The legislation, which became a source of contention between Democrats and Republicans in the final days of the session, now heads to Gov. Steve Sisolak's desk.

Democrats say extending the tax will put $72 million to teacher pay raises, a priority of Sisolak's, and add nearly $17 million to school safety funding.

Republicans opposed extending the tax, arguing that the state had other money to put toward the efforts.

GOP lawmakers also argued that that Democrats needed two-thirds of lawmakers to vote in favor to extend the tax because state law requires a two-thirds vote to impose a tax.

Legislative lawyers disagreed and Democrats passed the bill on a majority vote.

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8:50 p.m.

Legislators have approved a bill allowing counties to impose a .25% sales tax to pay for education, homeless and affordable housing.

The bill sponsored by Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson received final approval Monday night.

It now heads to Gov. Steve Sisolak's desk.

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8:40 p.m.

A sprawling criminal justice bill that reduces certain jail penalties passed the state Senate in the session's final hours.

The legislation aims to curb the state's expanding inmate population by changing criminal penalties, such as raising the monetary threshold for filing a felony theft charge to $1,200.

Lawmakers approved the bill in a 19-2 vote on Monday.

The measure now must clear a voice vote in the Assembly to advance in the legislative process.

Democratic Sen. James Ohrenschall says the bill is based on data and years of research on what works to curb recidivism.

He says "we need to shift resources from incarceration to policies and practices which make our communities safer."

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6:35 p.m.

A late-introduced campaign finance measure has cleared the state Senate.

The bill from Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro creates a new reporting requirement and aims to clarify the rules about personal use of campaign funds.

It requires groups to report donations of more than $10,000 annually. The measure now must pass the Assembly in the session's final hours to advance.

Senators passed the legislation unanimously on Monday. It comes months after Cannizzaro's predecessor, former Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, resigned in scandal and announced he had misused campaign funds.

He later plead guilty in federal court.

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5:25 p.m.

Nevada lawmakers have passed five key budget bills they needed to approve before adjourning Monday night.

Lawmakers approved the five core spending bills Monday afternoon, clearing their constitutional requirements to fund the government. The bills now go to Gov. Steve Sisolak's desk.

The spending bills include more $327 million to reduce K-12 class sizes and $63 million for a school reading program.

There's also $76 million to give state workers at 3% pay raise, $8 million to renovate the Grant Sawyer State Office Building in Las Vegas, $56 million for a new academic building at Nevada State College and $71 million for a health and sciences building at the College of Southern Nevada.

A sixth spending bill to set aside about $62 million for school safety and $72 million for teacher pay raises promised by Sisolak was awaiting final approval Monday evening in the Assembly.

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3:50 p.m.

Senate Republicans are blasting a move from Democrats to try and cut a school choice program from state law.

An amendment tied to a Democrat-backed bill extending a payroll tax removes the Education Savings Account, the state's school voucher program, from statute.

Republican Sen. Scott Hammond says the amendment came after Republicans did not support the bill extending the payroll tax.

He says he "can't think of a more petty thing I've ever seen in my life."

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro told reporters Monday the program is not funded and "we feel that it's important to ensure that public money is going to public schools."

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2:15 p.m.

Senate Democrats have passed a bill extending a payroll tax by removing a requirement that mandates a two-thirds vote to pass.

The measure has shaped up to be one of the largest political fights in the last day of the 2019 legislative session. Republicans issued strong objections to extending the payroll tax, which Democrats say will put $72 million toward teacher pay raises and an extra $16.7 million to school safety efforts.

Republicans say they agree with supporting education, but argued the state has a surplus of money to fund the efforts.

The Senate Democrats passed the measure with a simple majority vote and did not sway any Republicans.

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12:30 p.m.

A measure that would have extended a payroll tax has failed to clear the state Senate after not receiving a two-thirds majority.

The Senate Democratic caucus argues the funds from the bill would go toward teacher pay raises and funds for school safety efforts. Democrats threw their support around the measure, but the legislation failed to pass with a two-thirds majority due to Republican opposition.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro argued lawmakers can choose between corporate tax breaks or funding education.

Republicans argue there is a surplus in the state budget to fund the efforts - an idea Cannizzaro pushed back on.

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9:55 a.m.

Nevada lawmakers entered their final day Monday of a legislative session in which Democrats enjoying expanded political power pushed through an array of liberal initiatives.

Before lawmakers adjourn at or before midnight, they must give final approval to a two-year state budget expected to total about $25.7 billion. They're also expected to consider sprawling changes to the state's criminal justice laws and a revamp of the way Nevada allocates education funding.

The tasks cap a session in which the Democrat-controlled Legislature, emboldened by an expanded majority and the state's first Democratic governor in two decades, expanded voting rights, toughened gun laws and allowed state workers to collectively bargain.

The 2019 Legislature was also the nation's first with an overall female majority who ushered in a bill to rewrite abortion rules.

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Nevada lawmakers are wrapping up their

by midnight Monday. The country's first female-majority Democratic Legislature repealed abortion restrictions, expanded gun background checks and made it easier to prosecute some sexual assault cases.

Lawmakers have passed more than 400 bills and will whip through dozens more before they adjourn.

Here's a look at where some key bills lawmakers took on this year:

ABORTION

While conservative states this year have been passing more restrictive abortion laws, Nevada moved in the opposite direction. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law a measure that repeals a requirement that a woman be asked about her marital status before an abortion and a requirement that physicians tell a woman about the "emotional implications" of the procedure.

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COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

A bill to allow state workers to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions is headed to Sisolak's desk. The bill, which Sisolak called for in his State of the State address, would cover workers like prison guards, janitors and secretaries. It would not cover teachers and workers would not be permitted to strike.

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TOBACCO AGE

A bill to raise the age from 18 to 21 to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes was introduced the day before lawmakers were set to adjourn. The bill, from Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, creates an exception for members of the military. The bill, which would not take effect until 2021, was approved by the Assembly on Sunday.

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SAME-DAY VOTER REGISTRATION

Nevadans may be able to register to vote on Election Day under a bill headed to Sisolak. The measure, from Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, would also permit 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they would be 18 by a general election. About a dozen states have similar laws.

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NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE

Sisolak vetoed a measure to change the way the state's Electoral College votes are cast. The bill would have added Nevada to the National Popular Vote compact, meaning the state would pledge to give its Electoral College votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote - even if another candidate got more votes in Nevada.

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GUNS

In their first session since the 2017 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, lawmakers passed stricter gun control measures. One bill bans bump stock devices, which mimic the firing of a fully automatic weapon. A so-called "red flag" law allows guns to be removed from people seen as a threat to themselves or others. In February, Sisolak signed a bill expanding background checks to private gun sales and transfers.

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BANNING BROTHELS

A proposal by Republican Sen. Joe Hardy to ban legal brothels never received a hearing and failed to clear a key deadline to advance. Hardy argued that brothels, which are only allowed in some counties and mostly operate in rural areas, trap women in an abusive industry. Brothel supporters argued the ban would harm the economies of rural communities and force sex workers into more dangerous, illegal prostitution.

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DEATH PENALTY

Lawmakers introduced two bills that would have banned the death penalty, but they failed to pass legislative deadlines. The bills came after a death-row inmate killed himself in January amid a legal battle with drug makers who objected to their products being used in a lethal injection.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)