2019 Legislative Summary
The Nevada System of Higher Education 2019 Legislative Report is a summary of legislative activity from the 80th session of the Nevada State Legislature. This report is intended to provide an overview of legislative and budgetary impacts to NSHE and its eight institutions.
This report provides summaries and links to legislation that was successfully approved and signed into law by the Governor (at the time of its release). You will find information within the following categories:
Letter from the Chancellor
The 80th Session of the Nevada State Legislature marked the start of the term for a new governor and many new legislators. The NSHE Board of Regents developed a biennial budget that supports the System’s five strategic initiatives: access, success, closing the achievement gap, workforce and research. The Board of Regents led two events during the session designed to support student achievement. In January, the System held a Student Success Summit, followed by a Closing the Achievement Gap Summit in April. These events were designed to outline institutional strategies for success for our students.
In preparation for the 2019 session, the NSHE legislative team conducted a Higher Education 101 informational event to provide legislators with an overview of our budget and legislative priorities. We also distributed electronic packets to legislators and regents in advance of session.
The 80th session brought with it much discussion related to education, both K-12 and post- secondary. NSHE institutions will see several capital projects, including an education building, health sciences center and engineering building. In addition, planning funds were allocated for our two rural institutions for expansion and renovation projects. State allocations were made to our institutions for caseload growth, capacity building, and prison education.
While there is a good deal to celebrate about the 2019 Legislative session, the session also presented some significant challenges. On the positive side, NSHE took the lion’s share of all capital dollars available in the state, being awarded $162M out of a total amount of $300M. This included $62M ($56M state) for the NSC Education Building; $77M ($71M state) for the CSN Health Sciences Building; $40M ($20M state) for the UNLV Engineering Academic and Research Building; and planning dollars in the amount of $524K for the GBC Welding Lab Expansion and $105K for the WNC Marlette Hall Refurbishment.
NSHE received a 10.88% budget increase over the biennium and a 7.6% increase for FY 19 to FY 20. This included formula caseload growth; capacity building for our four community colleges, NSC and DRI; funding for the UNLV School of Medicine and a Prison Education Program at CSN, TMCC, and WNC.
All our student scholarship programs (Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship, Silver State Opportunity Grant Program and Nevada Promise) were funded with increases.
On the negative side, all the capacity building dollars directed toward our two research universities ($20M) were removed from the Governor’s budget. This coupled with a cut of $7.5M in Knowledge funding from the GOED budget demonstrates a $30M reduction in available research dollars over the next biennium. The cumulative loss of over $30M in state funding dedicated to research activities in the upcoming biennium will likely have a significant impact on both UNLV and UNR’s ability to maintain the R1 designation by Carnegie in the future.
NSHE also saw the elimination for the one-time CTE course funding ($6.2M over the biennium); and the elimination of UNLV Research O&M funding ($1.7M each for FY 20 and FY 21).
NSHE efforts throughout the legislative session were spearheaded by Dr. Kyle Dalpe, Interim Executive Director of Legislative Affairs, Mr. Michael Flores, Chief of Staff, and Ms. Joi Holliday, Senior Policy Analyst, assisted by government affairs representatives from each of the NSHE campuses.
We are deeply grateful for the support of our elected officials including Governor Sisolak and look forward to our work in the upcoming biennium to support education, research and workforce development in the State of Nevada.
Nevada System of Higher Education
Snapshot of the 80th Session
*as of June 4, 2019
NSHE Budget Impacts
Appropriations and Capital Improvement Projects
AB 543 and SB 553 – State Appropriations
General appropriation bills. This authorizes funding to NSHE and its institutions.
Authorizes certain expenditures by the State Public Works Division of the Department of Administration. This bill funds our Governor-recommended projects including the Nevada State College Education Building, and CSN Health and Sciences Building. Other late-added CIP projects are found in SB 528.
This appropriations bill was used as a vehicle through amendment to include the following CIP projects: UNLV Engineering building project ($20M), GBC Welding Lab Expansion ($459,000), and WNC Marlette Hall refurbishment ($105,000).
The money committees voted not to approve the Governor’s recommended appropriation for the Knowledge Fund ($5M FY20; $5M FY21) and instead voted for $2.5M for FY20 and $0 for FY21. In addition, there are rollover funds in the amount of $2M that will go to the upcoming biennium. The Knowledge Fund is accessed through a grant process by the universities and research institute.
The committees voted to approve the Governor’s recommended appropriation for the WINN Fund (Workforce in a New Nevada) account at $4M for the first year (FY20) and added $2M for the second year (Governor Recommendation was $4M FY20; $0 FY21). This fund has been accessed through proposals by the community colleges.
Provides an appropriation to the College of Southern Nevada in the amount of $425,000 to support the Nevada Grow program administration. This program helps to advance small business development in Clark County.
Allocates $875,793 to CSN, WNC and TMCC to expand the Prison Education Pilot Program (from CSN) that was established through Senate Bill 306 during the 2017 legislative session.
Creates the Nevada National Guard Youth Challenge Program that will be administered by the office of the Military.
Continuation of the Nevada Teach initiative from 2017 for students pursuing teaching license for middle or high school while earning STEM degree ($300,000).
Scholarships and Waivers
Allows for students with less than 15 credits but more than 12 credits to receive funds after all students at 15 credits are awarded.
$10M appropriation for biennium for the SSOG.
Requires the State Treasurer to establish a statewide database containing information relating to sources of funding for higher education. This bill requires the database to include certain information about each source of funding listed in the database.
Revises eligibility requirements for the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship by changing the GPA requirements from 2.60 to 2.75 for each semester of the first year of enrollment.
This appropriates $33M to the scholarship fund.
Expands number of recipients statewide from 2 to 4 for this scholarship. This bill also increases the maximum amount that they may be awarded annually from $4,500 to $5,000.
Makes technical updates to the Nevada Promise Scholarship Program
- 8 hours of community service (from 20)
- Adds alternative determination for financial need if students prohibited from completing FAFSA after all FAFSA completers are awarded.
Appropriates $4.5M for the biennium to the Promise Scholarship.
Requires the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada to waive the payment and registration fees, laboratory fees and other mandatory fees for students who are veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States and have been awarded the Purple Heart.
Allows for fee waivers by the Board of Regents for veterans for graduate studies within the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics or health sciences.
Health and Human Services
Requires the Legislative Committee on Health Care to study matters related to stem cell centers in different states and countries during the interim to study the best placement and type of organization for STEM cell research in the state.
This is a public records bill that expands the reach of Nevada’s Open Meeting Law to certain sub committees of public bodies. It also allows a public body to authorize a chair or CEO to initiative litigation on behalf of that body.
This public records bill enumerates penalties for violating public records acts. It will eliminate the ability to charge extraordinary fees and expands the definition of public records.
Takes NSHE out of Nevada Constitution as separate entity. Will go to a vote of the public to be placed on the 2020 ballot.
Authorizes collective bargaining for state classified employees, including those within NSHE.
This bill decreases the frequency of the required determination of whether to adjust the contribution rates from every 2 years to every 6 years. The determination of the contribution rates will be for the first monthly retirement reporting period commencing on or after July 1, 2025, and then every 6 years thereafter.
Establishes the amount of the State’s share of the costs of premiums or contributions for group insurance for active state officers and employees who participate in the Public Employees’ Benefits Program for the 2019– 2021 biennium the subsidies to be paid to the Public Employees’ Benefits Program for insurance for certain active and retired public officers and employees.
Merit Language in 2017 Appropriations Bill Removed
Statement that funds appropriated to NSHE could not be used for professional merit increases has been removed from appropriation bill language to allow NSHE to decide.
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) (AB542)
Allocation for a 3% COLA for state employees on July 1, 2019.