Only nine bills have been signed by Governor Lombardo this legislative session–the fewest in 25 years–as his legislative priorities of education reform and election integrity measures have been largely ignored or summarily dismissed by the Democratic majority. Last week, three “gun control” bills were vetoed by the Governor prompting Democrats to accuse Lombardo of working on behalf of the “extreme” gun lobby.
On Friday, the Globe received a scoop that Democrats were gutting their own school safety bill, stripping measures from AB 285 that would have empowered teachers to remove a violent student from the classroom. Although the bill received bipartisan committee support, with many committee members noting that “something was better than nothing,”, the Governor issued his second warning to the legislative majority late Friday afternoon:
Following today’s committee passage deadline, Governor Joe Lombardo’s office reaffirmed his commitment to school safety legislation that protects students and teachers and stated that the legislation passed by the Senate Education Committee today is insufficient and would not be signed without significant changes.
“We expect school safety legislation to actually make schools safer. Governor Lombardo will not sign legislation that allows a student to commit battery against a teacher and have the only mandatory punishment be a meeting with their parents,” said Ben Kieckhefer, Chief of Staff to Governor Lombardo. “This is not good enough. We need to do better for our teachers and children.”
Despite Governor Lombardo’s Safer and Supportive Schools Act (AB 330) not advancing from committee today, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager agreed to waive all deadlines on the Governor’s bill, keeping it alive for the remainder of the legislative session and allowing further negotiations on the legislation.
AB 330 was passed out of the Nevada Assembly in April with sweeping bipartisan support. AB 330 is supported by diverse groups across the state, including: all 17 Nevada superintendents, the Clark County Education Association (CCEA), the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-Technical Employees (CCASAPE), the Education Support Employees Association (ESEA), the Nevada Association of School Boards, the Latin Chamber of Commerce, and the Charter School Association of Nevada, among others.
Governor Lombardo drafted and introduced his school safety legislation in response to the growing epidemic of school violence in Nevada. Last year, there were over 6,800 violent incidents reported at Clark County School District (CCSD) schools within a 7-month period. Over 90% of CCSD schools reported at least one violent incident in the last year, and since 2018, there has been a 46% increase in violence and sexual assaults reported within the school district. In Washoe County, there have been over 7,400 violent incidents reported within the Washoe County School District this year alone.
Public polling shows that 71% of Nevadans support Governor Lombardo’s plans to make Nevada schools safer.
Governor Lombardo has also promised to veto the state budget should his proposals not receive legislative review. As another deadline approaches this Friday, the legislature will consider two massive budget items: a proposal to construct a new Oakland A’s Las Vegas ballpark and a massive tax credit appropriation to entice Hollywood Studios to Southern Nevada, prompting Northern Nevada to come to the table. With these outstanding budgetary proposals, the threat of the Governor’s veto, and the end of the biennium session nears to a close on June 5th, a special session is expected.
According to the Review Journal: “Kieckhefer himself has said that getting a balanced budget from the 2023 session is the “single most important thing” that could come out of the session, even if no policy bills pass.
Kieckhefer insists Lombardo understands what’s at stake, but is frustrated at the lack of progress on policy measures: “The governor fully understands the dynamics of working in a government structure where there are separate but equal branches of government,” he said. “They (the Legislature) don’t get everything they want, and the governor doesn’t get to get everything he wants, either.”
However, the Democratic majority may get everything they want should they gain one seat in the State Senate and hold their supermajority in the State Assembly. A gain of one state senate seat would allow Democrats to override Governor Lombardo’s veto when the legislature convenes again in 2025.
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