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Democrats Eye Minimum Wage Backup, Legislative Reviews

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers head into the final stretch of the session with a pledge to raise the minimum wage and two legislative reviews hanging in the balance.

Here’s a look at what’s happening at the statehouse:

MINIMUM WAGE

Nevada’s minimum wage would reach $12 an hour in 2025 — six years later than Democratic lawmakers initially proposed this session — under a measure they took up for the first time last week.

Facing a Republican governor who said as recently as Friday that he does not support an increase in the minimum wage, Democrats are conceding they may need to go to the ballot box to raise the wage floor.

If lawmakers approve the ballot proposal this year and again in 2019, Nevada voters would decide in 2020 whether to replace the state constitution’s minimum wage equation with an incremental pay increase.

“Of course, we’d be disappointed if we weren’t able to start raising the minimum wage next year, but that’s why we’ve left open the option of pursuing a constitutional amendment,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford said in a statement Friday. “If Nevada Republicans won’t consider giving working families a raise, then Nevada voters will.”

Nevada currently mandates most workers receive a minimum $7.25 an hour with health insurance or $8.25 an hour without that benefit.

Senate Joint Resolution 6 would create one minimum wage and set it at $9 an hour in 2020, $9.75 in 2022, $10.50 in 2023, $11.25 in 2024 and $12 in 2025.

It would also delete the equation tying the state minimum wage to the cost of living and federal rate, which intends to automatically raise wages in time. The minimum has not been raised in seven years.

Assembly Bill 175 would have raised the minimum to $12 an hour by 2019 and $15 an hour by 2022.
Assembly Democrats gutted the bill in April and it now would raise employer-provided insurance standards, but not the minimum wage.

Senate Bill 106 is the Democrats’ remaining proposal to raise wages with haste. It has not moved since mid-February. It would raise the minimums this year to $8 or $9 an hour depending on insurance, and increase them 75 cents a year until they reach $11 or $12 in 2021.

DEMOCRATS HOLD COURT

Democratic lawmakers are expected to schedule a hearing this week to ask questions of Attorney General Adam Laxalt about corruption allegations that federal authorities have already dismissed .

Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said he asked the FBI in spring 2016 to review information he worried might constitute a pay-to-play scheme involving casino representatives.

The FBI told Burnett that Laxalt committed no criminal violations, Burnett said.

Laxalt is considered a front-runner for governor in 2018, though he has not declared his candidacy.

Laxalt denies wrongdoing, saying in written statements that his actions were part of the job of attorney general and Democrats calling for the hearing are engaging in a political stunt.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT REVIEW

An ongoing investigation into a claim of sexual harassment against a longtime state lawmaker continues into this week. Republican state senators pressed the Democratic majority to take swift action against Sen. Mark Manendo, a Las Vegas Democrat, who denies wrongdoing through an attorney.

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