Economic Forum to decide revenue needed by state

CARSON CITY — Legislators who start the 13th week of the 2009 session on Monday will have to wait until Friday for the biggest development, a Nevada Economic Forum meeting to determine how much revenue lawmakers have for the state budget.

The forum’s findings on revenue estimates for the coming two fiscal years must be followed by the legislators as they conclude work on the state budget and figure out what they need in the way of new taxes or reduced spending to ensure the budget is balanced.

There have been many bleak reports on monthly casino winnings, sales taxes and other economic indicators in advance of Friday’s forum session, fueling speculation that tax increases approved this session could approach or even exceed the record $833 million tax increase approved by lawmakers in 2003.

The week opens on Monday with the Assembly Ways and Means Committee reviewing AB64 and AB65.

They would raise fees for filing court documents to help pay for nine new district judgeships in Clark County, bringing the total there to 52, and one new judgeship in Washoe County, raising its total to 15.

The Ways and Means Committee also will review AB148, to reduce on-the-job deaths by mandating more safety training and to ensure there’s proper oversight by government agencies. The bill was written following the deaths of 12 workers at Las Vegas Strip construction sites over an 18-month period.

The Senate Finance Committee will consider SB382, which attempts to fix hospital funding problems by changing the way funds are distributed to hospitals that care for a “disproportionate share” of people who can’t pay for their care. At stake are tens of millions of dollars, distributed through a complicated funding formula involving county dollars and federal matching funds.

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will review AB151, requiring mortgage brokers to include a disclosure document listing the lender’s license number, and would require financial institutions to include a document that states the value of the home and terms of the loan in “language that is easy to understand.”

Also Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will review AB105, which would erase the need for a court order before a DNA sample can be collected from someone under arrest for a felony.

On Tuesday, the Assembly Corrections, Parole and Probation Committee takes up SB238, a Senate-approved bill that would expedite the restoration of civil rights to felons released from prison under certain circumstances.

The Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee considers AB442, which started out as a plan to bar government agencies from hiring paid lobbyists and wound up as a requirement that the agencies that employ lobbyists submit quarterly reports explaining terms of their contracts.

The Assembly Elections, Procedures, Ethics and Constitutional Amendments Committee reviews SB162, which would move the date of Nevada’s mid-August primary elections to early June.

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee reviews SB177, which requires the state to create an Internet database of all tax rates in Nevada.

The finance panel also will review SB412, which would change the salary structure in the state Agency for Nuclear Projects, which has led the fight against federal plans for a radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain, so that staffers’ pay would be set by lawmakers.

The Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee debates SB331, which would grant property and sales tax breaks to home and business owners who install enough solar panels; and SB358, a Gibbons administration bill aimed at reducing energy use in state buildings.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee takes up AB116, which would make changes in Nevada laws that can result in the state denying benefits to domestic violence and sexual assault victims involved in “contributory conduct.”

The Senate Taxation Committee reviews AB307, to let officials in Nevada publish an annual list of property taxpayers and their property values on an Internet Web site rather than in newspapers. If the measure wins final approval, it will cost newspapers a lucrative revenue source.

Also Thursday, the Assembly Elections, Procedures, Ethics and Constitutional Amendments Committee debates SJR2, a proposed constitutional amendment that would turn the elective regents who oversee Nevada’s higher education system into appointees of the governor.

Besides the Economic Forum on Friday, a Senate-Assembly budget subcommittee plans a work session on the budget for the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Also Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee takes up AB46, which would step up state record-keeping to help keep guns away from the mentally ill.

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