LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A proposal to let cities in Clark County form their own school districts squeaked in under the wire Monday as the Nevada Legislature hit a deadline for introducing bills.
Senate Bill 383 (SB383) was one of about 130 bills that came in as lawmakers scrambled to beat the deadline, filing important legislation on school choice, property taxes, changes to police funding and tax breaks.
Republican Senator Carrie Buck, who represents a large section of Henderson in District 5, took the lead on SB383. The bill allows the establishment of municipal school districts in Clark County, and would provide funding based on per-pupil formulas. The bill also sets up elections for a municipal school district.
A ballot initiative to break up the Clark County School District failed in late December when signatures did not meet requirements, but organizers vowed to continue to push to get control of their schools. Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo has expressed support for school changes, referring to “dysfunctional bureaucracy.”
But no Democrats are listed as bill sponsors. The Legislature is controlled by Democrats in the majority, putting into question whether changes like this have a chance in Carson City.
You’ve probably heard a lot about the additional $2 billion in funding for education in Nevada. SB394 is the pricetag, and comes from a recommendation by the Commission on School Funding, created in 2019 to guide improvements in education funding.
A tax hike of 10 cents for every $100 dollars in assessed property value is proposed to fund a massive increase in education funding. Market value of homes is not part of the equation — it is tied to assessed value. A homeowner with a house assessed at $250,000 would see their annual property tax go up by $250.
SB394 is part of an effort to rely on dependable sources of funding for schools. It will require a two-thirds majority passage in the Assembly and the Senate.
The bill is sponsored by the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development, chaired by Las Vegas Democrat Dina Neal. Gov. Joe Lombardo has expressed his support for increased funding for education, and this appears to be the only choice that will make it to his desk this session.
Gov. Joe Lombardo’s school choice bill was introduced Friday night, representing a sweeping change to Nevada’s approach to education by expanding funding to private schools.
Assembly Bill 400 (AB400) creates the Nevada Office of School Choice and expands eligibility for Opportunity Scholarships, which could provide a major infusion of money for schools outside the public school system.
AB400 also provides funds for transportation — school buses, for example — for charter schools.
The bill also creates incentives for teachers to get advanced degrees with a scholarship program, and restores a law that would require students to be held back if they can’t read in 3rd grade.
Political barriers may be too high for AB400 to make it to Lombardo’s desk this session, with Democratic Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro standing in the way. Yeager has said public money is for public schools. The bill’s sponsor is the Assembly Committee on Education, chaired by Las Vegas Democrat Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod.
SB405 seeks changes to election laws in Nevada, taking steps toward restrictions on voting that Democrats are likely to oppose.
Gov. Joe Lombardo has asked for “common sense” changes like requiring voters to show their ID at the polls and putting a deadline on mail ballots that will eliminate current rules that delay final vote counts far beyond Election Day.
The bill would end the practice of automatically sending mail ballots to every active voter, instead going back to allowing any voter to request a mail ballot. The bill also would outlaw the practice of letting someone else deliver a mail ballot on behalf of the voter.
A second bill — SB443 — takes on the ID rules surrounding voter registration. This bill puts more of a burden on the Department of Motor Vehicles to allow easier access for people to get an ID card. SB443 would prohibit the DMV from requiring appointments to obtain a driver’s license or ID card during certain periods of time — setting up weekend hours and/or later hours on weekdays in the two weeks leading up to a primary or general election.
Property tax changes/exemptions
SB400 would make a tax passed 25 years ago permanent, eliminating a sunset date and carving up allocations from the tax to create funding for homeless services. The 1997 tax set up a 20-cent per $100 of assessed property value to fund the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. SB400 would take 3 cents of that for Clark County to provide homeless services beginning in 2026, leaving 17 cents for Metro police. The bill is sponsored by Senator Dina Neal (D-Las Vegas).
AB416 would eliminate property taxes when landlords rent homes or apartments to people who receive housing vouchers — often referred to as Section 8 housing. The bill is sponsored by Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D-Las Vegas).
Rent control bill
SB426 would create the first rent control provisions in Nevada, setting stricter rules on rent increases and allowing tenants relief from cost-of-living increases. Among the rules, Landlords are prohibited from raising the rent during:
- the first year of a tenancy
- any 12-month period by an amount that exceeds the cost-of-living increase published by the Housing Division of the Department of Business and Industry
Rent increases would be capped at 5%. Landlords are given opportunities for exemptions under certain circumstances, but strict requirements for notifications of increases are set up.
Tenants, on the other hand, are given the right to withhold rent without incurring interest charges if landlords violate terms of the rent control law.
The bill is sponsored by Democratic Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) and Assemblywoman Sarah Peters (D-Reno).
Opioid settlement audit
SB377 requires the Legislative Auditor to conduct an audit of the costs and expenses that the Nevada has reimbursed to lawyers in connection with opioid litigation. Las Vegas Attorney Robert Eglet has handled litigation in the matter. Senator Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Washoe County) leads 11 Republicans in seeking the audit.