Minimum Wage Remains Hot Topic in Nevada Legislature
Senate Bill 106 would increase the minimum wage from $8.25 to $12 over five years, going up 75 cents each year.
Two bills were introduced earlier in the 79th Legislative session which would increase Nevada's minimum wage.
While Assembly Bill 175 would have boosted the minimum wage to $15 per hour, that bill was changed. That amount is no longer on the table, but the bill could still affect what the minimum wage would be in cases where the employer provides benefits. Senate Bill 106 would increase the minimum wage from $8.25 to $12 over five years, going up 75 cents each year.
"We think that a person who works 40 hours a week shouldn't be living in poverty, and so we are determined to find a way to effectuate an increase in the minimum wage," Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas said.
Both bills are part of the Democrats "Nevada Blueprint", but neither has been brought to the floor for a vote yet. That is partly because discussions are ongoing, with lawmakers hoping the bill will be adequate for both employers and employees.
"We understand that business community will help us implement something like this and we wanted to figure out if there's a way to a compromise," Ford said.
If the bill passes, it will likely happen on along party lines. Republicans are opposed to the measure, saying it will result in increased costs and slow down job creation.
"I'm against a mandated minimum wage increase," Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno said. "It inflates wages upward for all groups. It has a negative impact on job creation, and it's just not a good solution for our economy, right now."
Kieckhefer says a minimum wage increase would raise costs for everyone, and could have a negative impact on families with low wages.
"Those who receive the greatest benefit also receive the greatest harm because of the increased cost and things that are more traditionally consumed by those who have less income," Kieckhefer said.
While committees continue to hammer out legislation, Governor Brian Sandoval says he would like lawmakers to pick up the pace. As of Tuesday, only 11 bills have made it to his desk.
"I would like to see more bills hit my desk, in terms of having bipartisan support," Sandoval said. "Last session was much more than that, but obviously, there's a different constellation and they're different priorities and different people but in terms of communication, it couldn't be better."
While the legislature has not passed many bills, so far, that is expected to change quickly, with 34 days left in the session.
"It's been a little slow, in terms of getting bills out," Kieckhefer said. "We've been chugging along on the budget. It's really time to start making some of those hard decisions. We're gonna have to start doing that soon."
"The pace is perfectly fine," Ford said. "We are a deliberative body. We don't rush. We don't determine whether we've been successful by how many bills we've sent to the governor's desk. What we want to do is look at the quality of these bills."
Governor Brian Sandoval also signed Assembly Bill 19, a measure voted out unanimously by both houses and originally introduced by the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. The bill becomes effective July 1, 2017.
“Understanding how we’re reaching our veterans and measuring outcomes based on that data is an important resource for the State to have in serving those who have served our country,” said Governor Brian Sandoval. “By assessing outcomes related to veteran employment, healthcare, and education we can anticipate the needs of our veteran communities and better align our state services with my mission of ensuring Nevada is the most military and veteran-friendly state in the nation.”
The session wraps up June 5. The only bills that are required to pass are the budget bills.