2015 Legislative Update For Week of 4/27/15
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Weekly Update


Major milestone

State's Economic Forum meets Friday

Independent group provides projected revenues for budget for next two years
This Friday marks another major deadline in the 78th Session of the Nevada Legislature: the meeting of the Economic Forum. This independent group of fiscal and economic experts is a crucial part of the legislative process as it provides a forecast of the State General Fund's revenues for the next two years — that is, the amount of money Legislators have to fund their budget.

Over the next four weeks, this five-person group's forecast will be the key to funding Governor Sandoval's $438 million in proposed education initiatives. When the group met last, it had projected $6.3 billion to fund state programs, where the Governor's proposed plan would require $7.3 billion. His plan to make up the difference lies in the passage of SB252, a Business License Fee that uses a tiered scale based on gross receipts, and another $580 million from making "sunset taxes" permanent in SB483.

The Legislative bodies will likely hold off taking any action on bills requiring funding this week until the Economic Forum releases it's projection on Friday.

By statute (NRS 353.226-229), the Economic Forum is required to meet every year (on or before Dec. 3 on even-numbered years and on or before May 1 on odd-numbered years) and provide a forecast of SGF revenue. This forecast is based on updates on actual revenue collections, projected new revenue and/or expenditures, plus other indicators such as unemployment and personal income numbers.

Once the Economic Forum provides its projections, the Legislature cannot pass a budget that is more than that amount. Not even a dollar more. If more money is needed, the Legislature will have to raise revenues to pay for whatever goes over the predicted amount.

The budgeting process is cyclical and really never has a beginning or end. The Economic Forum must report its findings to an Interim Finance Committee, a group that monitors the state's expenditures and revenues and makes sure the budgets stays in balance. And so the process of adjusting the budget is constantly in flux.

The Governor appoints all five members to the Economic Forum, a two-year position. The current members are: Marvin Leavitt, Speaker of the Assembly Appointment; Matthew Maddox, Governor Appointment; Jennifer Lewis, Senate Majority Leader Appointment; Linda Rosenthal, Governor Appointment; and Ken Wiles, Governor Appointment.

Follow up

BLF, bullying bills, ed budgets heard

  • AB112 – Clarifies policy concerning a safe and respectful learning environment for students as well as administrators, teachers, and support staff in public schools. It was heard in Senate Committee on Education with no action taken.
  • SB252 – Last Tuesday, the Senate voted 17-4 for the Governor's Business License Fee bill, the plan that replaces the current business license fee with a tiered scale based on industry type and gross receipts. It will be heard in the Assembly next where it will likely meet some stiff opposition.
  • AB351 – This bill allows 3-star charter schools to access the bonding provisions created in 2013 and says that schools only need to maintain the ratings for two preceding years instead of three. It was heard on Thursday in Senate Education Committee and no action was taken. A work session will be scheduled.
  • SB411 – An act relating to taxation, authorizing the board of trustees of a school district to adopt a resolution establishing the formation of a Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee. It passed the full Senate 21-0 on Tuesday and moves to the Assembly Committee on Taxation.
  • SB463 – This is the Nevada version of the Student Privacy Pledge that sets rules about how student data is protected. Any student over the age of 16 may see his/her own records, any student younger than 16 has to have a parent or guardian view the data. Violations of the privacy rules will result in fines. Last week it passed the Senate unanimously and moves on to Assembly Education Committee.
  • SB491 – This bill allocates $10 million a year with a private match to recruit high-quality charter schools for students below the Federal poverty line. It was first heard in Senate Finance and another meeting will be scheduled soon.
  • SB504 – Amends provisions relating to a safe and respectful learning environment for students as well as administrators, teachers, and support staff in public schools, and creates an Office of Safe and Respectful Learning Environment within the DOE. This bill was heard on Thursday with "after passage discussion."
  • DSA budgets – The joint subcommittees on K-12 funding began the process of closing out the budgets for the Distributive School Account, the main funding source for Nevada's education system that covers basic support for school districts and charter schools. The subcommittee covered several topics but did not complete its agenda and will continue discussions. The items that were discussed included Special Ed Funding, English Language Learners, At-Risk Student Populations, Full-Day Kindergarten, Harbor Master Fund, Technology Grant, and Professional Development.

Top 5 roundup

HOPE's main goals see light in Session

We're about three-quarters of the way through the 78th Nevada Legislative Session and HOPE's Top 5 Goals have all been touched on at some level. How exciting is that?! The Southern Nevada parent and community voices that have been missing for so long are now being heard — thanks to your continued support and commitment to improving PreK-12 education in Nevada.
  • SB119 and SB207Both bills were signed into law by Gov. Sandoval! We now have not one but two (!!) laws enacting the rollover bond to fund new construction and improvements at existing schools.
  • SB252 – The Business License Fee is the way the Governor proposes to pay for his Education Initiatives, that include quality pre-K for under-resourced kids, universal full-day Kindergarten, stabilization fund,  and professional development. Alternate proposals to SB252 are AB464 and SB378 that will also fund investments in education and increase overall revenue.
  • SB397 – This is the implementation of the new Nevada Plan that requires weighted funding for English Language Learners and Free and Reduced Lunch students.
  • SB424 – Creates the K-12 Public Education Stabilization Account. It reallocates 50 percent of remaining fund balance money and reverts it from the State Distributive School Account to a stabilization account for the future.
  • SB474 – Creates the Great Teaching and Leading Fund in the state budget. Funds can be used for professional development, teacher and leader recruitment and preparation, and peer assistance and review.
  • SB508 – Provides for long-term modernization of the Nevada Plan (per-pupil funding) based on a weighted funding formula for ELL, FRL, Special Ed, and GATE students.
  • SCR1 – Creates an interim study concerning professional development of teachers and administrators during the 2015-2016 Interim.

Did you know?

Deadlines shift Legislative focus to budget over policy

The second major deadline of the 78th Session hit last Tuesday — the First House Passage deadline. This deadline marked when bills must be voted out of the house they originated in or they die.

The exceptions, of course, are the bills that have been labeled exempt because they have a financial impact on the state budget. Those bills will go through a vetting process to see which ones are essential to fund with the budget money, and which ones aren't.

The big focus on bills so far in the Session is on policy, but as we get closer to the end, the focus will switch more toward budget. Upcoming deadlines are:
Friday, May 1:  Economic Forum report due
Monday, May 4:  Resolving budget differences
Friday, May 15:  Committee passage, second house
Wednesday, May 27: Budget Bills Introduced; Exempt Bills from Committee

It's easy to stay informed with the Nevada Electronic Legislative Information System (NELIS). It offers access to Bills, Budgets, and Committees, a useful Calendar, contact information for Senate and Assembly members, and link to sign up for Personalized Legislative Tracking. And, if you miss anything, archived videos are available.

Coming up this week

Tuesday, April 28
  • AB107 – Requires the State to report out subgroup data for FRL students in terms of their academic achievement, retention rates, graduation rates, dropout rates, and assessment scores. This bill will be heard in the Senate Committee on Education at 3:30.
Thursday, April 30
  • AB166 – This bill would establish a state seal to be put on a diploma for biliteracy for students who are proficient in English and another language besides English. It will be heard in the Senate Committee on Education at 3:30.
  • AB374 – Requires counselors/education personnel to meet with students after their ACT results are received, to determine a path of college and/or career readiness and if remediation is needed. It will be heard in the Senate Committee on Education at 3:30.
Friday, May 1
  • Economic ForumThe Forum begins at 9 a.m. and can be viewed in person in Room 4100 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson St., Carson City, or via videoconference to Room 4412 of the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Las Vegas.

Your two cents

Contact Legislators

Getting in touch with your legislators is easy and they really do want to hear from you. Your opinions help shape our laws. And don't forget to mention you're a member of HOPE!
  • The Share Your Opinion page offers a form for one-stop communication with minimal effort and no searching for legislator contact information.
  • Contact Senators and Assemblypeople directly. Each branch of the Legislature has all the contact information for its members listed on one page.

The spotlight
on policy change

HOPE's Top 5 Goals

What does HOPE want? We want to see change in areas that will improve the chances of a better education for our current and future students. Our platform is broad and inclusive:
  • Pre-K for under-resourced children
  • Universal full-day Kindergarten
  • Embedded and collaborative Professional Development
  • Funding Formula reform and a Stabilization Account
  • Rollover bonds for school construction and refurbishment

The voice
for our children

We all need HOPE!

HOPE is guided purely by the goal to provide the best education possible for all students in the state. Our parent advocacy group formed in 2014 to fill the void where family and community involvement was largely missing. Our membership allows us to offer a unified voice representing families and community members all over Southern Nevada. It also helps educate and inform local and state level decision-makers and legislators on specific needs of students and teachers in Clark County and beyond.

Share HOPE with your friends and ask them to sign up today to become a member — www.hopefornevada.org. With your support, we will always have HOPE for Nevada's students!

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