In continuation of our series regarding new laws passed by our 2021 legislature, this blog concerns new laws that our legislature enacted that affect our prisons and inmates and well as local government here in Nevada. Our legislature was very aware of the challenges facing our prison system.
Our lawmakers in Carson City passed several bills in 2021 session to help our inmates , even during the pandemic they were hard at work. Many of these laws focused on creating changes that will help inmates re-enter society by requiring prisons to provide services for exiting inmates.
Our legislature created an entire new act in Assembly Bill 88 that requires the board of trustees of the school district and the governing body of each charter school and university to adopt a policy that prohibits the use of a name , logo, mascot or song or any other identifier that is “racially discriminatory or contains discriminatory language or imagery“. Our lawmakers are determined to remove discriminatory laws from our books and prevent offensive imaging from representing our public institutions. These laws are indicative of the progressive and democratic nature of our state. The following is a summary of the new laws enacted regarding the Department of Corrections and impacting Local Government that were passed by our Nevada legislature during the 2021 session.
Inmates and corrections
Assembly Bill 358: Changes Medicaid eligibility for inmates, suspending rather than terminating eligibility and reinstating it as soon as possible after release. This bill changes eligibility for inmates in Nevada prisons. The previous law terminated their eligibility for Medicaid and allowed inmates to be reinstated when they were released. This bill suspends their Medicaid eligibility until they are released thereby forgoing the requirement to reinstate eligibility. It is basically and attempt to streamline paperwork and get benefits to people as soon as they are released from prison instead of waiting for a whole new process to begin and be concluded. This bill will help our inmates re-enter society and maintain their health by allowing them to be eligible for medical care immediately after they have served their time. This bill directs the Director of the Department of Corrections to complete the paperwork to enroll each inmate in Medicaid prior to their release.
Effective January 1, 2022.
Senate Bill 387: Requires the Public Utilities Commission to set rules, including rate caps, for inmate calling services. This Bill requires the Public Utilities Commission to set rules for rate-caps regarding costs for inmate calling services. These costs are generally born by the state. This bill requires the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUNC) to adopt regulations that govern the provisions of many calling services to include a procedure to establish recaps and limitations on ancillary service charges and certain other taxes.
Effective October 1, 2021.
Assembly Bill 63: Authorizes local governments to use local natural disaster recovery funds to mitigate the effects of a declared emergency. This bill is related to the financial administration of the use of government emergency funds. This bill relates to local financial administration and authorizes local government to use money from specific funds to assist with the adverse effects of certain emergencies. Under the existing law, the governing body of a local government can establish a fund to stabilize the operation of local government in the event of a natural disaster. This bill expands the use of the funds to include situations which are declared a state of emergency by the government. Clearly this bill is direct product of the pandemic. This bill basically adds the phrase “emergency situation“ to all of the situations which were previously reserved for “natural disasters“ in the utilization of government funds.
Effective October 1, 2021.
Assembly Bill 88: Bans use of racially discriminatory mascots or place names and so-called “sun-downer sirens.” So yes, I had to google that term as I have never in my life heard the term “sun-downer sirens” before. This is what I found “The towns of Minden, Nevada, and Gardnerville, Nevada, had an ordinance from 1917 to 1974 that required Native Americans to leave the towns by 6:30 p.m. each day. A whistle, later a siren, was sounded at 6 p.m. daily alerting Native Americans to leave by sundown.” It absolutely shocked my conscious that such laws were on the books at all much less as late as 1974 in Nevada. Assembly bill 88 bans the use of racially discriminatory logos and mascots or names and also banned the use of the old process of “sundowner sirens“. This Bill is actually an entire new act that also requires the board of trustees of the school district and the governing body of each charter school and university to adopt a policy that prohibits the use of a name , logo, mascot or song or any other identifier that is “racially discriminatory or contains discriminatory language or imagery“. This may impact some of the older schools in the valley that have had mascots and names for over 50 years that someone may find offensive. I was surprised as well when the Cleveland Indians, my favorite baseball team by family heritage, had to change their name from the Indians to the Guardians. I think it will take us fans a long time to get used to the name the Guardians. However, I never found the name Indians to be offensive but apparently it is to a group of people. This new statute in our state prohibits the use of any type of names that could be offensive to any group of people. In addition, section 2.3 of this bill prohibits a county in the state from “sounding a siren, bell or alarm anytime during which the siren, bell or alarm was previously sounded on specific days or times in association with an ordinance enacted by the county which required persons of a particular race, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin or color to leave the county or city, town or township within the county by a certain time.“ This bill is sweeping legislation which impacts all aspects of naming public entities or public places in our state.
Effective July 1, 2022.
Assembly Bill 139: Allows local governments to use normally restricted excess enterprise funds to build fire stations. Assembly bill 139 allows governments to use normally restricted access enterprise funds to build additional fire stations. Existing law allows governments to create a “enterprise fund“ exclusively for building permit fees. Under existing law, money that is in the enterprise fund must not be used for any other purpose than the actual direct and indirect cost of building permits. This bill caps local building government enterprise funds and allows the balance of unreserved working capital does that that does not exceed 50% of the annual operating cost to be used to construct fire stations in cases that the needs assessment has demonstrated a need for additional fire stations exists.
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