CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers head into Sunshine Week, an annual focus on public accessibility of government, planning to consider bills that would make state wildlife complaints confidential; mandate school nurses keep inhalers on campus; and change the public school funding formula.
Here’s more on those and other issues at the Legislature this week:
SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA
Nevada would expedite extra money to public and charter schools for each disabled, English-learning, gifted and at-risk student under Senate Bill 178.
The state superintendent of public instruction will have the discretion to give districts more money per special-needs pupil in the next few years, but Democratic Sen. Mo Denis of Las Vegas says students’ needs are urgent.
Denis, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, is proposing students with disabilities count for twice the state’s basic support guarantee beginning this year. For students who are learning English or qualify for free or reduced lunch, the base amount would be multiplied by at least 1.05 in 2017, 1.15 in 2018, 1.3 in 2019 and 1.5 in 2020 and each school year after.
He’s banking on Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval agreeing to pay for the weighted formula from recreational marijuana taxes, slated to begin in July. It was not included in Sandoval’s two-year state spending proposal.
The bill attempts to accelerate the Legislature’s 2015 promise to increase aid for schools to help special-needs students by altering the school funding formula — and leaving less discretion to the state superintendent.
The bill is a top priority for both Denis and Democratic Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson of North Las Vegas, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee. SB178 will be heard Thursday.
INHALERS AT SCHOOL
Nevada will consider requiring every public school to keep an inhaler on hand in case of respiratory distress in an effort to provide backup medication for students who carry their own inhalers.
The American Lung Association has recommended states adopt such policies for years, saying children often forget or cannot properly use their inhalers and need a nurse’s help.
Nearly 9 percent of American children have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lawmakers on Wednesday will hear Assembly Bill 156 from Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas.
Beginning in July, it would require all public and charter schools to obtain one albuterol inhaler and two spacers or other devices that aim the medication down the throat.
Nevada public and charter schools already must keep epinephrine on campus to control allergy attacks. Yeager said nonprofit health organizations have donated EpiPen supplies to school districts in the state, and he’ll seek inhaler donations should his bill become law.
GUNS FOR YOUNG SOLDIERS
A Sparks Democrat is proposing the state extend eligibility for permits to carry concealed weapons to active-duty soldiers and honorably discharged veterans ages 18 to 20.
Nevada currently limits concealed-carry permits to people age 21 or older who are not on parole or probation, have never been convicted of a violent crime and are not subject to a protective order, among other requirements.
Assemblyman Skip Daly wants to make young servicemen and women eligible, too, arguing the military has trained them to properly use guns and other weapons.
Daly’s proposal would not change current law allowing dishonorably discharged veterans to apply for the permits upon turning 21.
Assembly Bill 118 will be heard Wednesday in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Once a year, journalists and open-government organizations focus heightened attention on the accessibility of records, communications and general transparency of government.
Sunshine Week starts Sunday. Fittingly, lawmakers are hearing multiple bills this week that would affect public access to state records and agencies’ decision-making processes.
Senators on a natural resources committee will vote Tuesday on Senate Bill 75, which would require wildlife officials to publish notice online instead of in Nevada newspapers before setting hunting seasons and bag limits. The bill would also make confidential any complaint of wildlife causing a nuisance or potential danger — records that currently are public.
On Wednesday, senators on a government affairs committee will hear Senate Bill 170, which aims to require government agencies to provide some public records electronically, unless unavailable or requested in print.