Edited July 12, 5:36 a.m. to reflect that recreational marijuana is legal in Churchill County, however, there are no approved recreational dispensaries.
Last month, Nevada legislators passed over 550 new bills. Of those, 200 went into effect on July 1. The Democrat-dominated Nevada lawmaking body passed several progressive measures with far fewer Republican-sponsored bills making it to the governor’s desk for signature.
Some of the most notable bill failures include a bi-partisan-backed voting redistricting (R), a measure requiring proof of identity for voters (R), and legislation that would allow casinos more authority to ban firearms on casino properties (D).
While not all measures will be considered beneficial, several will directly and positively impact most Nevadans.
Minimum Wage: Topping the headlines at the close of the 2021 session was AJR-10, a proposed constitutional amendment to restructure Nevada’s minimum wage laws. The measure passed in both 2019 and 2021 and is headed for voter approval in 2022. If passed, the resolution will go into effect on July 1, 2024, and eliminate the state’s two-tier minimum wage system. AJR-10 would also set the minimum wage at $12 per hour (or greater), regardless of whether or not employers offer health insurance. On July 1, Nevada’s minimum wage increased to $8.75 for employees who receive employer-sponsored health benefits and $9.75 for those who do not. AJR-10 would also require Nevada’s minimum wage rate to correspond to any federal increases. The current Washington administration supports a national minimum wage increase to $15 per hour. The last increase was in 2009 when it increased from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour.
Guns: Governor Sisolak also signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 286, which prohibits homemade guns or ghost guns. The measure bans the home-building of firearms for all individuals, including hobbyists and gun-making enthusiasts. The bill also prohibits individuals from possessing firearms without serial numbers. As a result, it is now illegal to possess a gun manufactured after 1968, homemade or otherwise, without a serial number.
Marijuana: AB158 revised Nevada statutes for minors in possession of minimal amounts of marijuana. The new legislation, effective July 1, now imposes community service for the offense. Previously, this was punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to six months in jail.
Nevada legislators also legalized the operation of cannabis consumption lounges with the passage of AB341. Effective October 1, residents age 21 or older may consume marijuana within prescribed and state-approved cannabis lounges. It is still being determined what kind of products will be permitted for consumption. However, because local officials have resisted establishing recreational dispensaries, residents should not expect establishments of cannabis lounges within county or city limits.
Assembly Bill 400, which also passed, no longer makes operating a vehicle with trace amounts of THC in the system a per se (negligence) violation.
Tribal Nevadans: AB88 officially bans racially discriminatory language or imagery in Nevada schools and colleges. As such, any geographic feature that includes discriminative components may be changed. One example of this type of change is the recent renaming of Squaw Valley to Olympic Valley. According to the legislation, schools may use mascots in connection to Native American icons and language, provided they have the express permission of tribal leaders.
AB262 requires the UNR Board of Regents to waive registration fees, per-credit fees, or other school fees for Nevada’s Native American students who meet a specific criterion.
AB270 will allow for the preservation of Stewart Indian School, located in Carson City on the Stewart Indian Reservation.
Several other bills were passed directly impacting Nevada’s indigenous tribes, including; AB52, AB54, AB95 AB72, AB103, AB171 AB261, AB321, AJR-3, and AJR-4.
Education Funding: Long-awaited changes to Nevada’s K-12 school funding formula are finally on the horizon. The new measure not only changes how school districts and schools will be funded but it allocated an additional $502 million into Nevada’s struggling education system. An unexpected uptick in tax revenue in 2020 allowed state officials to increase its overall per-pupil allotment by about 22%.
All new legislation can be found at https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/81st2021