We saw a number of incredible pieces of legislation pass through the Legislature this session. In 120 days, the Legislature passed background checks on all gun sales, prioritized public education, passed good clean energy and conservation policy, ensured better access and security for our electoral process, made progress on economic justice, and once and for all, took positive steps to begin to reform our criminal justice system, made healthcare and prescription drugs more affordable, just to name a few. This is a very impressive list of accomplishments.
Governor Steve Sisolak delivered on his promises and we commend his leadership this session to help move Nevada forward.
We are also thankful for the leadership of Speaker of the Assembly Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro for making great progress on these issues. In particular, we are impressed with their handling of education funding this session, putting forward a very ambitious budget proposal which permanently extends the modified business tax as a revenue source. By contrast, their Republican colleagues refused to come to the table to support eliminating the sunset on a tax many of them have supported in the past, and instead opted to vote against funding public schools, school safety, and educator salaries. Choosing between funding education and giving a tax cut to corporations should not have been difficult. And yet, the Republican leadership in both Houses could not bring themselves to make the right choice.
While we celebrate the many victories we achieved this session, it’s important to recognize where some of our expectations fell short of being met. First and foremost, the Legislature backed away from repealing state preemption for gun laws that would have empowered County Commissions to enact life-saving, common sense policy in the aftermath of the October 1st mass shooting. This will be a priority that we plan to pursue the next session.
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Similarly, while we are appreciative of the first steps to expand solar access this session, the Legislature missed an opportunity to give low-income Nevadans a pathway to true, community-led energy development in the form of community solar. This program passed the Legislature in 2017 but was vetoed by the previous Governor. We will continue our work on this issue until we have a real community solar program in Nevada.
Additionally, the Governor’s veto of legislation to sign Nevada onto the National Popular Vote interstate compact was disappointing, as the bill would have been a step toward ensuring that a person’s vote for President would matter regardless of geography or party affiliation.
Finally, when it comes to funding our public schools, the Legislature regrettably left out educators and community stakeholders in crafting a new education funding formula and continued to fund Opportunity Scholarship vouchers. The result, even after an amendment, was a formula that included no new funding, an overall decrease in funding to rural schools, and less support for Zoom and Victory schools. We will continue to call for a more equitable funding formula and a complete end to the Opportunity Scholarship program.
Overall, we are pleased with the progress we have been able to make this session and we will work to advance our core issues as an organization in the interim so that we can continue to move our agenda forward in future sessions.