As we have talked about in previous weeks, AB110 is a bill that was introduced to manage lobbyist registration in this virtual session setting. Last week, it finally passed through the Senate and was signed by the Governor on March 18. It became effective that day. The lobbying portal is officially open to register should someone be partaking in lobbying efforts during the 2021 session. That portal can be found on the Nevada Electronic Legislative Information System (NELIS).
AB124: Gender Equality in the Workplace
A bill related to the workforce, AB124 aims to provide gender equality for employees. AB124 would prohibit assigning or directing an employee into a less favorable position or career track based on the sex of the employee, failing to provide certain information relating to promotions or advancement based on the sex of the employee, or limiting or depriving an employee of an employment opportunity that would otherwise be available if not for the sex of the employee. Current statute prohibits paying lower wages based on sex and these provisions extend protections against gender-based discrimination. The Chamber currently opposes this legislation based on various technical aspects of the bill but is working on coming to the table with an amendment.
AB184: Small Business Advocacy
The main purpose of AB184 is to create an Office of Small Business Advocacy within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. AB184 also outlines the purposes of this new office, including working with small businesses to facilitate conversations with local governments, providing a voice to small business owners during conversations with regulatory authority, and generally giving added support to small businesses. The Chamber testified in support of AB184 and looks forward to the hopeful passing of this measure.
AB222: Government Employment Practices
AB222, a bill that would make it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee that has reported the business to be in violation of codes of conduct, has good intentions but leaves businesses in a vulnerable position. The Chamber testified against AB222 on the grounds that when an employee only reports the incident to their employer, retaliation claims may become “he said, she said” situations that can be damaging to businesses that are otherwise engaging in lawful practice. While amendments were brought to soften some of the language, the amendments were still deemed harmful to business and left the Chamber in opposition again.
AB330: Vocational Training
AB330 is a bill that would provide that people who complete certain training programs for occupational, vocational, career, trade or technical education and receive certificates for the completion of such programs would be eligible to receive equivalent credit towards related professional and occupational licenses and certifications. The Chamber testified in support of AB330 at its hearing, recognizing that vocational careers increasingly offer well paying, highly skilled jobs that provide opportunities for workers and those seeking to transition their skills to a new sector of business. As the bill progresses, we will continue to update you.
SB209: Paid Leave and COVID-19
In an effort to provide protections to workers during the pandemic, SB209 requires private employers to allow any use of paid leave with the intention for employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in that time. The Chamber is opposed to the language as written due to the overreaching parameters of what would qualify for paid time off, considerations for businesses with vaccinations programs underway, as well as possible retroactive implications to businesses that could occur as a result of this bill if amended. SB209 also requires an interim study on the long-term impacts of SARS-CoV-2 on casino workers and frontline workers.
SB226: Career and Technical Education Opportunities
With similar goals to AB330, SB226 would establish policies and regulations to formulate plans for the promotion of vocational trades. SB226 would also direct the Superintendent of Public Instruction to make studies and investigations on the funding of programs of career and technical education. In order to increase technical careers in Nevada, the best practice is to offer education during high school. The Chamber is in full support of SB226.
The Chamber currently stands in opposition to SB245, which revises the definition of “wages” owed to discharged workers. This is a shift from “unpaid wages” to wages plus compensation as determined the Labor Commission to which employers could be required to pay when claimants seek remedy for unpaid wages that are owed accordingly to existing Nevada law.
Legislative Process Deadlines
Originally, the bill introduction deadline for individual legislators was scheduled for March 15. Upon that date’s arrival, the deadline was then extended an extra week, however, when the new deadline came and past, it was further extended to accommodate for the challenges that the Legislative Council Bureau has faced with the virtual session. Bill introductions continue to flow through this week. Updates will continue as other deadlines begin to pass, the next significant one being the first house committee passage, currently scheduled for April 9.
Links to all bill language, proposed amendments, scheduled meetings and legislators serving on various committees are available to the public via the State of Nevada’s NELIS website.
Chamber Advocates for Federal PPP Extension to Aid Small Business Members
The Henderson Chamber of Commerce continues to have conversations about the need to extend the popular small-business program, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is scheduled to expire on March 31. Although lawmakers recently approved the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the Chamber seeks to extend the PPP program until the end of May. The Chamber believes the extension would provide the financial support small businesses may still need over the coming months until the country’s vaccine-eligible population is vaccinated and additional restrictions on business are lifted.
PUCN approves major transmission and renewable energy initiative with help from Chamber
Earlier this week, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) approved moving forward with NV Energy’s Greenlink Nevada transmission and renewable energy initiative. The Chamber is a proponent of the project application and believes it will allow the utility company to tap into renewable energy zones throughout western and northern Nevada thereby accelerating the development of clean energy on public lands, increasing electric reliability for Nevadans, driving the creation of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
NV Energy estimates its investment at more than $2.5 billion. Greenlink Nevada is expected to generate $690 million in economic activity and support nearly 4,000 jobs, including skilled union labor. The initiative will also allow for the development of approximately 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects throughout Nevada that will contribute economic growth in the form of nearly 2,000 additional construction jobs and related tax revenue. The project will provide the infrastructure needed to support the growth of new and expanding businesses in Nevada from west Henderson to Apex in North Las Vegas to Reno. The first part of the project has an estimated completion date of December 2026.
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SBA Launches Portal to Begin Accepting Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Applications on April 8
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established through the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act to provide over $16 billion in economic relief to target industries. The SVOG application is slated to open April 8, 2021. You can sign up here to be informed when the application opens.
SBA to Increase Lending Limit for COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The Small Business Administration is increasing the maximum amount small businesses and non-profit organizations can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Starting the week of April 6, 2021, the SBA is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 EIDL program from 6-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. Questions about SBA COVID-19 EIDL and disaster loan payments can be emailed to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or directed to SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard of hearing).