31 May Battle Born Progress Reacts to 81st Legislative Session: Major Progressive Victories, Some Disappointments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 1, 2021
Contact: Will Pregman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 702.752.0656
CARSON CITY, NV – The Nevada Legislature adjourned the 2021 session Sine Die on May 31st. For a session anticipated to only focus on narrow policies due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s budget, Battle Born Progress worked throughout the session to ensure the passage of significant reforms in the areas of gun violence prevention, healthcare, voting rights, environmental protection, clean energy, and COVID-19 relief.
But while many laudable progressive priorities passed, there were also disappointments. Despite systemic racism being declared a public health crisis by the body during the 2020 Special Session, some criminal justice reform bills, including the abolition of the death penalty, either failed or were amended to remove their bolder provisions.
Other issues, like affordable housing and public education funding saw some progress, but were also watered down or left to die. Battle Born Progress lobbied publicly and behind the scenes to aid partners and coalitions who led on these bills, but stiff opposition from law enforcement, corporations, and special interests dashed these opportunities.
Still, many of Battle Born Progress’ key priority bills succeeded in making it to Governor Steve Sisolak’s desk. We are eager to continue working on getting these signed by the Governor and work to implement many of these policies alongside the Governor and Legislative leaders, while also holding lawmakers accountable for decisions we disagreed upon.
Annette Magnus, Executive Director of Battle Born Progress, said:
“In many ways, this legislative session was a mixed bag for our issues. I’m so proud of the work our organization was able to accomplish this session through direct lobbying, tracking over 250 bills, coaching advocates and volunteers with personal stories to testify, hosting a weekly livestream on various legislative issues and bills, advocacy both inside and outside the building, coordinating press conferences, interviews, and op-eds featuring legislators and community leaders, crafting messaging and digital content for our network, using our expertise to train partner organizations on the process, and utilizing our knowledge and relationships within the building to be a resource and an asset to our fellow progressive partners.”
“We are thankful for the continued leadership of both Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro who moved forward some important legislation to respond to the COVID-19 crisis for tenants and small businesses, ban untraceable ghost guns, expand access to voting and voter registration, create a public health insurance option, kickstart investment in clean energy transportation infrastructure, decriminalize traffic violations, invest in school construction bonds, modernize our HIV laws, allow for over-the-counter birth control, and more. Some of these bills required tough fights. Some required long hours of negotiation between lawmakers and stakeholders that we participated in and facilitated with our partners.”
“On our core issue of gun violence prevention, we once again cherish the leadership of Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui for carrying forward AB286, a bill to ban the sale of untraceable ghost guns in Nevada. This bill was a genesis of our collaborative work with national gun violence prevention partners like Brady, Giffords, Everytown and the Center for American Progress. These easily assembled guns, which require no background check, have become a popular weapon-of-choice in violent crimes across the country and were being exported from Nevada. Without a serial number to trace the guns, these crimes become harder to solve. This bill went through major revisions that came as the result of long negotiations between ourselves, other lawmakers, and other lobbyists. Simultaneously, we mobilized gun safety activists to call and write to their legislators supporting the bill. We were glad to work alongside Assemblywoman Jauregui this session to address ghost guns while the federal government has only just begun discussions on ghost gun policy. She’s once again proven herself to be a champion of keeping our communities safe from gun violence and we are eager to continue working with her on gun safety reform.”
“Alongside the Let Nevadans Vote coalition, we also did extensive communications work supporting several bills to expand access to voting, improve our election systems, and transform the state’s First-in-the-West presidential selection process. Speaker Frierson, continuing his legacy on voting rights legislation, sponsored three bills which earned our support; AB126, to change the state from a caucus system to a presidential preference primary, AB321, to allow voting by mail in all future elections, and AB422, creating a top-down voter registration database managed by the Secretary of State. Additionally, Assemblyman Howard Watt’s bill AB432, to expand automatic voter registration to include other state agencies, was another unsung highlight of the session. We were proud to host press conferences on AB321 and AB432, while working with Let Nevadans Vote partners to draft and place op-ed’s in newspapers across the state, in addition to testifying on these bills in committees.”
“We also commend Speaker Frierson, specifically, for bringing forward a compromise to tax the mining industry, at long last, in AB495. This bill even being brought forward is a tribute to the decades-long advocacy work of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN). We were proud to join them as part of the Dig Deep Nevada coalition to fight to pass AJR1** from the 2020 Special Session, providing comms assistance, rapid response, and relaying information to partners directly from the building. While AJR1** was the superior proposal to truly have mining way what they owe, AB495 is a solid first step. Mining companies have utilized generous deductions on their net proceeds to avoid paying what they owe to our state. AB495 taxes the gross revenue of larger mining operations to direct hundreds of millions of dollars to education. While we are disappointed that a significant portion of this money will go to bailing out charter schools and funding DeVos-inspired Opportunity Scholarship voucher schemes, we see this bill as an important step towards mining actually contributing meaningfully to our state’s overall revenue. There’s still a long way to go, but AB495 is a move in the right direction. We’ll be watching very closely to ensure that mining companies follow through on paying this tax, and that the revenue generated is appropriately spent on public education.”
“We also thank and congratulate Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro for sponsoring SB420, to create a public health insurance option in the state of Nevada. We took part in numerous lobbyist and legislator meetings to move this bill along the process, while running digital ads, sending action alerts, and featuring healthcare expert Wendell Potter on our Out in Front livestream to rebut insurance industry claims against the bill. This legislation lays the groundwork for the Nevada Public Option, which would offer Nevadans and small businesses a lower-cost, high-quality plan for health insurance. As the director of a non-profit, which is technically a small business, this bill excites me, personally, for the potential it has to make health coverage for employees more affordable. In addition, the Nevada Public Option would provide a new plan available for rural Nevada communities, and help those who have lost work or health insurance find a lower-cost alternative. This bill was a very tough fight to get every single supporting vote, and holding off an amendment to simply turn the bill into a study. We look forward to working with Senator Cannizzaro and other stakeholders to see through the implementation of this plan in the coming years.”
“On the environmental front, we took an active role in the Nevada Conservation Network to help pass legislation protecting our lands and waters and promote clean energy. We drafted and placed letters to the editor supporting bills like AB211, requiring wildlife habitat studies before land is used for development. We hosted a training on grassroots lobbying for Network volunteers ahead of Conservation Lobby Day and assisted with the development of lobbying materials for the week-long event. We took part in weekly engagement calls led by Chispa NV on AB349, the bill to reduce smog pollution from vehicles, assisting with rapid response communication and placement of more letters-to-the-editor. We also coordinated with the Nevada Conservation League to hold a press conference highlighting the Conserve 30 by 30 initiative, which was moving at the legislative level in AJR3, a resolution that also lobbied and used digital organizing to support.”
“With all of these victories, we must also note that there were some harrowing moments of disappointment. Affordable housing was an issue where this Legislature dropped the ball, especially as the pandemic forced housing insecurity upon so many. We worked closely with our partners with the Legal Aid Center to not only share resources with the community as developments occurred, but apply pressure on lawmakers to address the looming eviction crisis in a real way. In the end, AB141, the bill to seal eviction records from the pandemic, made it through after beating back pressure from housing associations, and holding them accountable to their supposed interest in helping renters. We were also glad to see AB486 move forward, with input from the Governor, to create better legal procedures around rental assistance applications to ensure a “glide path” for eviction proceedings. However, much more MUST be done to address the evictions crisis and the need for affordable housing in our state. Too many good housing bills, like AB334 to create more inclusive zoning policies, died on deadlines. We are going to continue working with affordable housing advocates to ensure local governments are also taking action on this issue while holding our Carson City legislators accountable for not doing nearly enough to address the skyrocketing cost of housing in Nevada.”
“In spite of promises from the last Special Session to “do more” on criminal justice reform, we saw that promise broken. It was saddening to see legislators who once vocalized support for ending the death penalty, go silent when it came time to bring AB395 up for a hearing in the Senate. Moreover, it was disrespectful to the hardworking advocates who dedicated so much time, effort, and emotional struggle to quash this bill without even holding a second hearing. We will work with our partners in the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty to urge a moratorium on executions to move Nevada further away from this barbaric practice.”
“We were the only organization to testify against SCR11 in both committee hearings, the Innovation Zone interim study, which wastes legislative resources to studying a conceptually flawed and environmentally disastrous proposal. It was incredibly disappointing to see the fanfare given to this concept and to see this study move forward. We were also the only progressive organization to join the Nevada State Education Association in testifying against the absurd changes to the education funding formula in SB439 that lead to less per-pupil funding for certain groups of students.”
“Many terrific bills passed this session. But, we can’t ignore the areas in which the legislature fell short. In most of these problem areas, the issue consistently has been a lack of respect and communication, despite all we do to help guide and influence the legislative process before, during, and after session. All we ask is that legislators see us and our partners as equals in the process. Too often, corporate interests and powerful government agencies dictate the agenda on issues where grassroots advocates have been speaking out. We encourage legislators to reflect not just on their victories this session, but the times where they should have made extra seats at the table for interested stakeholders – especially for impacted communities. We look forward to a productive interim session working with our legislators, Governor Sisolak, and our partners to implement the bills passed this year, and work on future legislation.”
ABOUT Battle Born Progress’ legislative work:
Throughout the Session, Battle Born Progress employed a communications strategy encompassing lobbying, grassroots action, coordinating traditional and social media coverage, including a weekly hour-long livestream program, and activating our 20,000+ subscriber network in support, or opposition, to legislation. Acting as the primary liaison between legislative leadership and allied organizations, we led partner groups in messaging, strategy, and accountability, and assisted partners with additional communications or lobbying support. Battle Born Progress also worked in coalition with the following groups on many of our legislative priorities: Let Nevadans Vote, Renew NV, Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty and Dig Deep Nevada, The Nevada Criminal Justice Coalition, LGBTQ+ Equality Coalition, and the Nevada Conservation Network
Battle Born Progress Priority Bills (These are our top tier bills. We monitored over 250 bills and testified on many of them):
AB58 Makes changes relating to the authority and duties of the Attorney General.
AB88 Makes various changes relating to governmental entities.
AB106 Makes an appropriation to the Office of Economic Development for the provision of grants to certain entities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
AB126 Revises provisions relating to elections.
AB141 Revises provisions relating to the sealing of records for summary evictions.
AB286 Prohibits certain acts relating to firearms.
AB308 Revises provisions relating to landlords and tenants.
AB321 Revises provisions relating to elections.
AB341 Revises provisions relating to cannabis.
AB349 Revises provisions governing motor vehicles.
AB396 Makes various changes relating to the use of deadly force.
AB400 Revises provisions relating to prohibited acts concerning the use of marijuana and certain other controlled substances.
AB432 Revises provisions relating to elections.
AB486 Establishes provisions relating to property.
AB495 Revises provisions relating to governmental financial administration.
AJR10**Proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to prospectively increase the required minimum wage paid to employees.
AJR1** Proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to revise provisions governing the taxation of mines, mining claims and the proceeds of minerals extracted in this State.
AJR3 Urges various actions relating to the protection and conservation of land and water.
SB6 Revises provisions governing orders for protection against high-risk behavior.
SB50 Revises provisions relating to warrants.
SB52 Requires the establishment of a program for awarding a dark sky designation to certain sites in this State.
SB190 Provides for the dispensing of self-administered hormonal contraceptives.
SB420 Revises provisions relating to health insurance.
SB448 Revises provisions governing public utilities.
SB450 Revises provisions relating to the financing of school facilities.
SPOKESPEOPLE ARE AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH
About Battle Born Progress: Battle Born Progress, through strategic communication efforts, empowers, engages and mobilizes Nevada voters to build a state where everyone has a fair opportunity to succeed. We support, engage, and mobilize the progressive community through bold leadership, strategic communications, accountability, and education. We are on the cutting edge of new media and are the go-to source for progressive issues and advocacy for traditional media. Learn more at https://battlebornprogress.org/.