Front & Back of the House
Legislative Session Calls for Attention, Not Anxiety
There is always a bit of angst on the part of business people when the legislature is in session. Almost anything can happen–bills could be introduced that would change taxation, licensing or operational requirements. Add to this the new political dynamic in Nevada, with the Democrats taking control of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion (which, by the way, hasn’t been the case since 1991) and the anxiety rises even further because quite frankly, no one is really able to predict what will happen.
Weighing in on this subject is Warren B. Hardy, the contract lobbyist for the Nevada Restaurant Association and principal in the Hardy Consulting Group. He was a lobbyist for approximately eight years before serving as a Nevada State Senator from 2002 until 2009, when he returned to lobbying. Obviously, he knows the ins and outs of passing legislation in Nevada.
His take on things is that they’re not too bad. “Obviously, there is a lot of pressure on Democrats to push a very aggressive liberal agenda, but the Democrats we have in Nevada are pretty sensitive to the needs of businesses and understand the fact that businesses are the ones that create jobs for the workers. Especially after the Governor’s State of the State (SOS) Address, I’m certainly not in a panic about what will happen,” said Hardy.
However, he does feel that legislation will be introduced that will give us pause. Governor Sisolak in his SOS address, mentioned raising the minimum wage. That is of great concern to the hospitality industry, which would be disproportionately impacted by such a measure. Hardy noted that the governor didn’t mention an amount for the new minimum so there may be some negotiating room there.
Another issue facing the hospitality industry mentioned by the governor is paid sick leave. “Again he didn’t mention any specifics,” Hardy said. “In fact, he said he would work to reach a consensus on that issue. That’s the best you can hope for at this time, that kind of language, that kind of verbiage coming from the governor.” Hardy added.
Hardy is also talking to legislators about correcting the 40-hour work week issue. In most states, overtime is considered to be anything over 40 hours in one week. In Nevada, anything over eight hours in one day is considered to be overtime, even if the employee doesn’t work a full 40-hour week. Based on the people he’s talked to, both Democrats and Republicans, Hardy is hopeful that this may see a vote.
In Nevada, the law provides that in addition to legislators, entities such as municipalities, local governments, county commissions and state agencies can propose a limited number of bill drafts. Businesses, associations and individuals cannot propose bills, and even legislators are restricted to a maximum number of bills they can introduce. Committee chairs are allowed to put forward additional bill drafts reflecting the committee’s proposals in addition to their own allotment.
“Our award-winning legislative council is known for its public transparency and accessibility,” said Hardy. Thanks to this policy of openness, individuals can track bills of interest throughout the legislative session with Personalized Legislative Tracking (PLT). To access the system, visit the website of the Nevada Legislature (https://www.leg.state.nv.us) and choose this year’s session (80th 2019) in the upper left-hand corner of the page. On the next page, choose “Personalized Legislative Tracking” in the main list. Here you will be able to register, creating a user name and password. The actual link to sign up for PLT is in the upper right-hand corner of the page in gray. You can track up to ten bills for free and there is an easy-to-follow user’s manual.
As the legislature is gearing up, Hardy is optimistic. “Governor Sandoval was a very moderate and consensus-building governor who worked to make sure all sides were considered,” said Hardy. “I look for Governor Sisolak to take that same posture and I don’t anticipate major changes.”
“The conversations I’ve had with Democratic leadership is that they are very sensitive to our concerns and will take into account those concerns. I’m not looking for it to be a catastrophic session, but one that we need to be very engaged in,” Hardy concluded.