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Medical bills, marijuana, labor reform on Carson City agenda

Bills dealing with surprise medical billing, criminal justice reform and labor laws in Nevada are just some of what’s on tap for lawmakers as they gear up for the second half of the 2019 session.

Friday marks the first major deadline for bills to either pass out of committee or die. But with just five days left before that deadline, lawmakers are in for a week full of lengthy bill hearings and committee votes as they try to move as many bills as possible forward.

Lawmakers will hear at least two bills looking to address issues relating to surprise medical billing, as well as several other priority bills for legislative Democrats on labor and criminal justice reform.

But not every bill will make it out alive.

That includes Assembly Bill 389, which would have banned beekeeping in urban and suburban areas in Nevada.

Opponents to the backyard bee ban raised objections in a hearing Thursday. And by Friday morning, the bill’s original sponsor — state Sen. Keith Pickard, R-Henderson — had abandoned the legislation altogether. The bill is not expected to be voted on by the natural resources committee by Friday.

Controlling big bills

So what key bills are coming up this week?

Lawmakers will take up two bills dealing with the hot topic of surprise billing from insurance companies before Friday’s deadline.

Assembly Bill 372, up for a hearing Monday in the Assembly Health and Human Services committee, would ban insurance companies from billing for out-of-network costs to patients who did not think they could make it to an in-network facility in an emergency.

On Wednesday, that same committee will hear Assembly Bill 469, which goes slightly further in essentially prohibiting insurance companies from billing for out-of-network procedures.

In the criminal justice reform domain, Senate Bill 434, which deals will various aspects of marijuana, will get a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning.

First, SB434 would allow people previously convicted of possessing one ounce of marijuana — which has been legal in the state since Jan. 1, 2017, to have those convictions vacated and sealed.

The bill would also give district attorneys in the state the ability to petition a court on behalf of those people, clearing the way for prosecutors in Nevada follow their peers in other marijuana-legal states in wiping out past marijuana convictions all at once.

Prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles have recently announced plans for such mass-record expungements for prior marijuana-related charges, which would clear nearly 60,000 convictions between the two counties.

Marijuana on the job

SB434 would also prevent employers from not hiring someone based solely on a failed pre-employment drug test that detected marijuana, and would bar employers from requiring a marijuana drug screening for current employees unless they have probable cause to believe the worker is under the influence.

And Assembly Bill 478 would require police officers in the state to take 12 hours of classes annually that address racial profiling, mental health, officer well-being, implicit bias, de-escalation, human trafficking and firearms.

On labor, Senate Bill 231 would roll back the state’s four-year-old prevailing wage laws, undoing the changes made by the 2015 Republican-controlled Legislature. The bill would lower the threshold for projects covered by the law from $250,000 to $100,000 and remove the exemption for charter schools. It’s similar to Assembly Bill 136, which is sponsored by all 29 Assembly Democrats. That bill will be heard Monday in the Senate Government Affairs Committee.

And the Assembly Bill 333, which would create speciality license plates to commemorate and memorialize the victims of the Oct. 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting, will be heard in the Assembly Growth and Infrastructure Committee Tuesday afternoon. The funds generated by those plates would go to the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, which provides resources to those affected by the shooting.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochehad at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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