By Bryan Wachter
One hundred and twenty days. That’s how many days the legislature has in each odd numbered year to solve every problem that occurs to them during the 610 days between sessions. The unfortunate situation that presents as we begin the arduous process of reading through the tens of thousands of pages of legislation is to find and stop the bills that will harm. In just a few short weeks of the 81st Legislative Session, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of proposals, and a general movement behind them, that will create laws and regulations that will substantially raise the cost of doing business in Nevada.
In just the first few weeks of the session, we’ve already seen bills that would rework unemployment insurance, the only part of DETR that actually worked during the pandemic to help Nevadans who are out of work, and an effort to double the length of time an employee can file a claim for wrongful termination. These are just the tip of the iceberg among hundreds of bill draft requests that don’t even have their bill text public yet.
These bills don’t, usually, come out of malice; instead, they come from legislators trying to fix the problems they see without understanding the context. Term limits ensure that each year we have a large number of freshmen legislators, combined with a growing population of public employees, none of whom understand what you are going through day-to-day as well as during a pandemic.
It is our task to educate legislators on what they don’t know about business, but COVID has presented a unique challenge; our facetime with legislators is severely limited. Legislators are working in a void without the support, and sometimes opposition, of the lobbyists who have traditionally roamed the hallways, and this is letting some of these “bad bills” that will raise costs on employers move through the process.
Now more than ever, this legislature needs to hear directly from you how their bills will increase your costs of doing business. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be asking you to join us in contacting legislators and telling your stories about surviving the pandemic, keeping your employees safe and on payroll, and the challenges of keeping your doors open when new laws make it harder to make ends meet.
This legislature is a unique situation, but it is part of a growing trend to look to businesses to fill budget holes and solve public policy challenges, at your expense. The Legislature meets for 120 days every two years, and this is a cycle that will continue. Be ready to stand up for your business and be warned that until the legislature adjourns sine die on May 31, 2021 we must stand together against this trend of making businesses responsible for the costs of their legislative agendas.