weather icon Clear

New laws boost Nevada’s economic development, environment

CARSON CITY — State government will start today getting a lot more serious about attracting new businesses and creating jobs for un­employed Nevadans.

Assembly Bill 449 — called the most important bill of the session by one supporter — becomes law.

AB449 reorganizes the state’s economic development efforts into a Board of Economic Development, headed by a Cabinet-level officer appointed by the governor.

It also calls for an advisory board of legislators, the governor and other elected officials to oversee moves to attract more business.

These boards can spend as much as $10 million in grants from a governor-requested Catalyst Fund to help induce businesses to locate or expand in Nevada. Temporary tax abatements can be given to qualified businesses.

AB449 is just one of 229 bills that go into effect today .

They include laws reforming education, allowing schools to eliminate five noninstructional days per year and requiring teachers to undergo background checks when they renew their licenses.

One new law provides for the imposition of $500 in fines on officials who deliberately violate the open meeting law.

Another exempts juveniles from being convicted on child pornography charges if they engage in “sexting,” the sending of sexual images of minors on their cellphones or computers.

The most talked about bill — the ban on the use of hand-held cellphones and texting by drivers — won’t go into effect until October or be enforced until Jan. 1.

And the most controversial bill — the one amending the voter-approved Clean Indoor Air Act and allowing adults-only bars and taverns to let patrons smoke and eat meals — went into effect June 17, the day Sandoval signed it.

Jobs, jobs, jobs was the rallying cry through the legislative session, and AB449 represents the primary law to lift Nevada out of economic malaise.

Nevada Taxpayers Association President Carole Vilardo on Thursday called the new law the most important legislation to emerge out of the session.

“All I can say is my fingers are crossed that what they did will become effective,” Vilardo said. “You have to put a roof over your head and food on the table, and that takes a job.”

“The governor has a lot at stake on this bill,” added Dale Erquiaga, Sandoval’s policy director. “We are dedicated to ensuring it delivers jobs.

“Job creation remains Sandoval’s No. 1 priority,” he said.

Vilardo said the recession has shown Nevada how important it is to create a diversified economy.

Chaos occurred because the recession hit the state’s tourism-based economy so hard. With a more diversified economy, all economic sectors probably would not decline at once, she said.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, the bill’s primary sponsor, said the economic development law will streamline state efforts to attract businesses.

“We can assist new business and industry, and they will hire more workers,” he said. “I am very excited about it.”

Other laws going into effect today include:

EDUCATION REFORM: New laws change how schools decide which teachers to lay off first during economic downturns. No longer will the “last in, first out” policy of keeping senior teachers and laying off new teachers be the primary factor. Teacher performance and other factors must be considered, too. And at least 50 percent of teachers’ performance will be based on how well their students perform on tests.

Teachers also must undergo fingerprint and background checks each time they renew their licenses. Normally licenses are required every five years. Teachers already must undergo the checks when they first are hired.

But instead of serving only one probationary year before receiving what in effect is tenure status, teachers will be given as long as three years to improve their performances before being dismissed. Underperforming veteran teachers can be moved back to probationary status and be given two years to make improvements.

Schools, under another new law, also must take increased steps to stop and track incidents of bullying. They also are required to set up procedures for students to report anonymously incidents of lawbreaking on school grounds that they witness.

PROTECTING LAKES: Assembly Bill 167 established large fines and legal sanctions against boaters who introduce detrimental aquatic species into Nevada lakes. Boats must be inspected for zebra and quagga mussels and other destructive, nonnative species before they can be launched. Fees of $10 will be imposed on boaters to cover the inspection costs. Fines of $25,000 to $250,000 also can be imposed on boaters who introduce detrimental species into lakes.

AUTO INSURANCE: Senate Bill 323 changes the current law that requires motorists to pay $250 in fees to reinstate their insurance if they have let their required liability insurance lapse. Instead a tiered system will be put in place. Repeat offenders could be charged as much as $1,750 to reinstate insurance, but first-time offenders will pay $250.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Bus driver in fatal Utah crash was on first trip, officials say

The driver of a tour bus that crashed near a national park in Utah, killing four Chinese tourists and injuring dozens more, was making his first trip for a company that had only been in business for a short time, investigators said Sunday.

British tour operator Thomas Cook collapses, bookings canceled

British tour operator Thomas Cook collapsed after failing to secure rescue funding, and travel bookings for its more than 600,000 global vacationers were canceled early Monday.

Arab lawmakers in Israel endorse Gantz for prime minister

It will be up to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to decide which candidate should be given the chance to form a coalition government and serve as prime minister.