Electrification to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
This session there has been an evident push to move toward cleaner energy initiatives. With Governor Sisolak promising to move Nevada towards a future with fewer greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner energy, legislators are taking action. Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen has brought forth AB380 which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 95% by 2050. The way she is proposing this, however, is problematic for many energy companies in Nevada including those dubbed as “cleaner energy.” Natural gas is an important form of energy for the state, particularly in rural regions, and eliminating it entirely has dangerous and expensive consequences for businesses and residents alike. Under the proposal, all natural gas would be phased out of service in Nevada by 2050. The first hearing was this past Tuesday in Assembly Growth and Infrastructure and was met with strong opposition from the Chamber, as well as other very important stakeholders. The next step is a work session currently scheduled for Friday, April 9. The bill is eligible for exemption, which means the Assembly could provide an exemption from all future deadlines.
Last week in Senate Commerce and Labor, there was a hearing on SB293, a bill brought by Majority Leader Cannizzaro that would ban employers from requesting past salary information. This bill was brought forward in an attempt to close the wage gap between men and women, as well as to protect people of color against discrimination. Unfortunately, as currently written, the Chamber had to oppose the language on technicalities. Should there be a proposed amendment, the Chamber’s Legislative Committee will reevaluate whether that position could change.
This Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor heard SB386, another bill brought by Majority Leader Cannizzaro. SB386 was brought in large part by the Culinary Union in an attempt to secure jobs for workers laid off during the pandemic. The bill would require an employer to give written notice of a layoff, as well as provide the opportunity for those workers to return to their previous or “similar” jobs when the position is made available. The Chamber, gaming, airlines, and hotels all opposed this bill as it would put a large burden on the employer to employ more workers than they are capable of in a time where the economy is still struggling.
SB374 would impose a tax on certain digital products electronically transferred to a purchaser. In the times of the pandemic, revenues in Nevada are lower than anyone could have anticipated. Tax bills were expected to be brought forth and all bills implementing new taxes or fees require a 2/3 majority vote to pass; SB374 falls into that category. There has not been a hearing scheduled for this bill yet.
Senator Neal has introduced SB346, a bill that would impose a tax on the retail sale of certain digital products electronically transferred to a purchaser. While this tax exists in a number of states already, it does not appear to be popular with Nevada stakeholders as there was wide opposition at the hearing. The Chamber is opposed to the tax proposition. Just like with AB374, this bill would require a 2/3 majority to pass.
This Tuesday, there was a short preliminary hearing on SB367, a bill that proposes to eliminate some exemptions from the live entertainment tax. The bill does not have very narrowly defined language and that was pointed out in the hearing by multiple legislators. The Chamber is also opposed to this tax bill, particularly due to the broad language. This bill also requires a 2/3 majority vote to pass because it would impose the live entertainment tax on some entities who were previously exempt.
As of this writing, there is an April 9 deadline requiring bills to pass through their respective committees or no further action of the legislation will be allowed. While that date has not shifted, deadlines have moved in previous sessions, and it would not be impossible to move again. In fact, this Wednesday, the Senate suspended the rules that prohibit bills to be heard and passed out of committee on the same day. It is expected that the Assembly will follow suit. With the deadlines shifting so swiftly and irregularly, we will continue to update you once we have more information.
While the session has been completely virtual to the public up until this point, rumors about the building opening are all over the place, from as soon as next week, to April 19 to even later than that date.
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.
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Nevada OSHA adopts COVID-19 Emphasis Program Targeting High-hazard Industries
Beginning last week, Nevada OSHA began implementing provisions of a national program focusing on enforcement related to COVID-19 on violations that put the largest number of workers at risk, and to enforce OSHA’s anti-retaliation mandates. These efforts fall under the Biden Administration’s recently issued Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. The program will guide the agency’s COVID-19 enforcement actions within identified industries and permit it to realign inspection resources while continuing to respond to workplace complaints. Industries identified include: healthcare, construction, food and agriculture, energy, transportation and logistics, manufacturing and gaming.
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.
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