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Nevada Legislature Passes Ride-Share Rules In Final Hour

Scott Sonner / AP

Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval talks to reporters before signing a series of budget bills while flanked by legislative leaders Monday, June 5, 2017, in the Old Assembly Chambers at the state Capitol in Carson City, Nev.

Scott Sonner / AP

(AP) - The 79th Session of the Nevada Legislature adjourned late Monday after lawmakers approved most of what few bills remained in the legislative process and passed new rules on ride-sharing companies in their final hours.

Here’s a look at what came out of Monday’s final session.

Ride-Sharing

New oversight would be put on drivers for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft under a bill the legislature is sending to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The proposal was believed to have died when it failed to make its way out of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Saturday. But Democratic Sen. Kelvin Johnson of Las Vegas introduced an amended version that cleared the Senate Sunday on a 16-5 vote.

The Assembly passed it in the session's final hour on a 32-10 vote.

Senate Bill 554 would make drivers prove they have obtained a $200 state business license within three months of joining a transportation network company.

It also would require those companies to review drivers' driving records annually, and do new criminal background checks every three years.

Marijuana Advertising and Taxes

The legislature approved a bill designed to help keep marijuana out of the hands of children.

The measure would outlaw the packaging or labeling of marijuana in a way that would appeal to children.

Senate Bill 344 prohibits the use of cartoon characters, mascots or action figures to market marijuana. It also prohibits the use of animals or fruits in the labeling, and specifically requires the products not appear to be candy, lollipops or ice cream.

The legislation requires the labels to state "this is a marijuana product" and "keep out of the reach of children." It also requires disclosure of the potency of the product and a warning that the intoxicating effects may be delayed two hours after consumption.

The Legislature also gave final approval Monday to a bill that will put the state Department of Taxation in charge of regulating all marijuana sales and taxes. Currently, state health officials oversee medical marijuana in Nevada.

Additionally, Assembly Bill 422 would outlaw marijuana vending machines.

Also approved was a regulatory structure to tax the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana that became legal statewide at the beginning of this year.

The Assembly sent Senate Bill 487 to Gov. Brian Sandoval Monday on a vote of 32-9 with Republicans casting all of the "no" votes.

The Senate approved the measure late Sunday night and the Republican governor is expected to sign it into law.

Altogether, it's projected to raise $120 million in state tax revenue over two years. All that money would go toward education, with the exception of a small portion that will be used to cover local government costs of licensing the operations.

 The legislation levies a 10 percent tax on retail sales and 15 percent tax on marijuana growers. It would apply to pot grown and sold for medical as well as recreational use. Medical marijuana currently is taxed at 2 percent.

The Nevada Department of Taxation is currently working on special regulations that would allow some recreational sales to begin at existing medical dispensaries as soon as July 1. The permanent statewide structure has to be in place by Jan. 1, 2018.

This story clarifies that Senate Bill 487 is projected to raise a total of $120 million over the next two years. One of the taxes proposed in the bill, the excise tax on recreational pot, would raise about $70 million.

Education Spending

Lawmakers agreed to boost state education programs by nearly $200 million with several bipartisan bills and a final budget agreement that will close out the 2017 session.

After four months of political negotiations that culminated Sunday, lawmakers will walk away from the biennial legislative session having prioritized K-12 funding in what is consistently one of the lowest-performing states in student achievement.

Democrats in control of the Legislature scrapped a broad school voucher initiative last week but are authorizing an additional $20 million in tax credits to similarly send what would be public funds to private schooling.

Members of the Assembly voted 34-8 on Monday to send that portion of the deal to Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Among other funding increases, low-income, English-learning and special-needs students would see an additional $100 million under bills expected to be sent to Sandoval Monday.

New UNLV Medical School

The legislature gave final approval Monday night to a bill that includes $25 million in state money to build the UNLV School of Medicine.

It's been a priority for Gov. Sandoval, who announced earlier Monday he'd received $25 million in matching funds from an anonymous private donor to launch construction.

The deal was contingent on the matching funds. Sandoval believes it's the single largest philanthropic contribution in state history.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 553 unanimously. Nine Republicans opposed it in the Assembly, where it passed 33-9.

Lawmakers also gave final approval to a capital improvements package that includes $43 million for a new engineering building at the University of Nevada, Reno. Sandoval says he'll sign both bills.

Budget

Gov. Sandoval signed the bulk of the state's two-year spending plan of over $8 billion early in the day, and implemented the final critical components through the evening.

One of four major bills the governor signed Monday afternoon implements a base budget of $2.37 billion for public schools through the 2019 school year.

Another component will give state employees a 2 percent pay raise each of the next two years.

Gov. Sandoval will also decide whether, under Assembly Bill 206, Nevada will mandate that 40 percent of the state's electricity production come from clean energy sources by 2030. The state is currently working toward 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Lawmakers also passed Senate Bill 550, one portion of final a final budget deal, to send an additional $17 million to Reno and Las Vegas-area schools. The funds will be used in part to backfill an unintended funding loss of $6.6 million in Washoe County, though it will not cover the district's budget woes.

The final action legislators took in both chambers was to amend their Joint Standing Rules in a way that Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford says intends to make it easier for people to file harassment complaints.

In an earlier Monday floor session, Ford admonished Sen. Mark Manendo, who is at the center of an ongoing sexual harassment investigation.

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