Breastfeeding Debate, Money-Management Issues Coming Up Before Legislature
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers will tackle higher stacks of bills and a faster pace in the fourth week of the session.
The full Senate will move toward a vote on the Equal Rights Amendment, but more lively debate could be found in the Assembly this week.
Here are a few issues on which members of the lower legislative chamber will ask for public opinion this week:
BREAST PUMPS AT THE OFFICE
One provision of the Affordable Care Act that Democrats hope to enshrine in state law this year will be considered on Monday when lawmakers present the case for workplace lactation accommodations.
Under President Barack Obama's health care law, all public and private employers with a staff of 50 or more must provide a private place and "reasonable break time" for workers who are nursing to extract breast milk. Employers are not required to pay women for time spent pumping or breastfeeding at work.
Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, D-Henderson, has proposed Nevada copy that rule into state law as Republicans in Congress continue to deliberate eliminating portions of the ACA and replacing others.
Healthcare providers and government officials have long promoted breastfeeding for the health of both infants and mothers.
Working women — the majority of new mothers — are less likely to initiate breastfeeding and breastfeed for a shorter duration than unemployed women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Returning to work after pregnancy, women face a lack of time, employer approval, accommodations and milk supply to continue pumping milk.
Nevada is one of 29 states that exempt breastfeeding from indecent exposure laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Assembly Bill 113 will be heard in the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee.
Nevada Democrats have also proposed codifying ACA sections for health insurance companies to cover contraception and screenings for cancer and autism.
NEW OVERSIGHT OF STATE COFFERS
A longshot proposal from Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, D-Las Vegas, would abolish the offices of two statewide elected officials who oversee Nevada's finances.
Billions of dollars pass through the offices of the state treasurer and controller every year. Breaking apart and passing on their responsibilities as Anderson seeks to do would be a massive undertaking that would have to be approved by Nevada voters.
Anderson says they're dispensable positions, "ministerial and technical in nature, generally lacking the discretionary responsibilities customarily exercised by elected officials."
For those reasons, he wants to see their duties absorbed by other members of the executive branch and leave it to future Nevada lawmakers to decide exactly how to dole out the responsibilities.
State Treasurer Dan Schwartz has repeatedly butted heads with legislators who believe Schwartz abuses his discretion every time he promotes the state's more conservative programs instead of simply administering them.
Lawmakers will discuss Assembly Joint Resolution 6 on Tuesday.
OIL AND GAS PAPERWORK
In a less-prominent proposal, Nevada tax officials want to give people who own land where ores, oil and gas are extracted a break from state paperwork.
Assembly Bill 82, being heard on Tuesday, would have the state work more directly with mine and drill operators to track what's unearthed and what taxes are due on private lands. Royalty recipients would be cut out of an annual process of reporting yields and calculating taxes due on their cuts.
The proposed method was in effect in Nevada from 2008-2015, but lawmakers and state tax officials accidentally let it expire, according to information provided by tax department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein.
The procedure is used in other Western states that rely heavily on natural resource development, including Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Nevada officials say it streamlines paperwork, produces cleaner data and results in fewer garnishments, but some property owners want to be included in the process.