The Latest: UNLV School of Medicine will become reality

(courtesy MGN Online)
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - In the works for years, a new medical school is finally going to become a reality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The Nevada Legislature gave final approval Monday night to a bill that includes $25 million in state money to build the UNLV School of Medicine.

It's been a priority for Gov. Brian Sandoval, who announced earlier Monday he'd received $25 million in matching funds from an anonymous private donor to launch construction.

The deal was contingent on the matching funds. Sandoval believes it's the single largest philanthropic contribution in state history.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 553 unanimously. Nine Republicans opposed it in the Assembly, where it passed 33-9.

Lawmakers also gave final approval to a capital improvements package that includes $43 million for a new engineering building at the University of Nevada, Reno. Sandoval says he'll sign both bills.

5:35 p.m.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed the bulk of the state's two-year spending plan of over $8 billion and is promising to implement the final critical components when the Democratic-controlled Legislature transmits them.

The Nevada Legislature is constitutionally mandated to finish business by the end of the day Monday.

One of four major bills the governor signed Monday afternoon implements a base budget of $2.37 billion for public schools through the 2019 school year.

That does not including tens of millions of dollars in additional funds still wending through the legislative process.

Another component will give state employees a 2 percent pay raise each of the next two years.

5 p.m.

Nevada lawmakers have formally ended a political standoff and given approval for the state to continue levying a 17-cent property tax necessary to cover Nevada's bond obligations and finance public works projects.

The measure includes about $35 million to front the long-awaited Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks. Federal funds are expected to eventually repay the state's investment.

The bill also allows the state to bond for $42 million to build a new Department of Motor Vehicles office in Reno.

Roughly $135 million more would be designated for maintenance at mental health facilities, corrections centers, universities and other state buildings across Nevada.

Bipartisan support was necessary to re-authorize the tax.

Republicans split on the measure after pledging to vote against any budget that did not include Education Savings Accounts.

Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson voted to pass the critical budget bill, saying he's pleased with a deal in which Democrats agreed to fund a different school voucher program, Opportunity Scholarships.

He noted the state has a constitutional mandate to implement a balanced budget.

Senate Bill 546 passed the Assembly Monday on a 34-8 vote.

Senators voted 15-6 to pass it the night before.

4 p.m.

The Nevada Legislature has given final approval to a bill designed to help keep marijuana out of the hands of children.

The measure passed by the Assembly Monday would outlaw the packaging or labeling of marijuana in a way that would appeal to children.

Senate Bill 344 prohibits the use of cartoon characters, mascots or action figures to market marijuana. It also prohibits the use of animals or fruits in the labeling, and specifically requires the products not appear to be candy, lollipops or ice cream.

The legislation requires the labels to state "this is a marijuana product" and "keep out of the reach of children." It also requires disclosure of the potency of the product and a warning that the intoxicating effects may be delayed two hours after consumption.

The Legislature also gave final approval Monday to a bill that will put the state Department of Taxation in charge of regulating all marijuana sales and taxes. Currently, state health officials oversee medical marijuana in Nevada.

Additionally, Assembly Bill 422 would outlaw marijuana vending machines.

3:30 p.m.

Nevada lawmakers have given final approval to a regulatory structure to tax the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana that became legal statewide at the beginning of this year.

The Assembly sent Senate Bill 487 to Gov. Brian Sandoval Monday on a vote of 32-9 with Republicans casting all of the "no" votes.

The Senate approved the measure late Sunday night and the Republican governor is expected to sign it into law.

Altogether, it's projected to raise $120 million in state tax revenue over two years. All that money would go toward education, with the exception of a small portion that will be used to cover local government costs of licensing the operations.

The legislation levies a 10 percent tax on retail sales and 15 percent tax on marijuana growers. It would apply to pot grown and sold for medical as well as recreational use. Medical marijuana currently is taxed at 2 percent.

The Nevada Department of Taxation is currently working on special regulations that would allow some recreational sales to begin at existing medical dispensaries as soon as July 1. The permanent statewide structure has to be in place by Jan. 1, 2018.

This story clarifies that Senate Bill 487 is projected to raise a total of $120 million over the next two years. One of the taxes proposed in the bill, the excise tax on recreational pot, would raise about $70 million.

3:20 p.m.

Nevada lawmakers are agreeing to boost state education programs by more than $200 million with several bipartisan bills and a final budget agreement that will close out the 2017 session.

After four months of political negotiations that culminated Sunday, lawmakers will walk away from the biennial legislative session having prioritized K-12 funding in what is consistently one of the lowest-performing states in student achievement.

Democrats in control of the Legislature scrapped a broad school voucher initiative last week but are authorizing an additional $20 million in tax credits to similarly send what would be public funds to private schooling.

Members of the Assembly voted 34-8 on Monday to send that portion of the deal to Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Among other funding increases, low-income and English-learning public-school students would see an additional $170 million under bills expected to be sent to Sandoval Monday.

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