Lobbyist’s Report
Summer is in full swing and things have been heating up here in the Silver State. We have had our first of what is believed to be two special sessions (the second is due to start within days of this report) and we are reporting on the details of the first special session below, along with the new realities of union activism in the time of the pandemic or as we like to call it: “How to Become a Virtual Activist”.
Since the COVID 19 Pandemic hit the United States and Nevada’s Governor’s imposed restrictions in March, public life in the state government has been in lock-down-but-virtual- access mode for the last five months. What that means is that the regular boards, committees and commissions have been meeting by virtual means-with the public’s interaction/participation also being from virtual means. There have been numerous additional “emergency” meetings in the last five months that we have attended virtually within government bodies such as the PEBP (Public Employee Benefit Program) and the IFC (Interim Finance Committee) to deal with the intersection of the public health crisis as it impacts the state’s budget crisis due to the fallout from the effects of the crisis.
Special Session #1:
The 31st special legislative session took place from July 8, 2020 to July 19, 2020. The purpose of the session was to address the estimated budget shortfall of 1.2 billion dollar shortfall as Nevada’s economy was essentially shut down due to the crisis. There were a total of eight bills filed, with five bills actually passed that to help with this shortfall:
AB3: This was the bill that authorized revisions to individual state agencies’ budgets, Higher Ed (NSHE) and other accounts (including a 12 million dollar cut to PEBP reserves) for the remainder of the biennium. It also imposed furloughs for the state workforce of six days starting in January 2021 (this bill was originally the bill dealing with education funding and was combined with the bill AB1 funding for state government). All in all almost 1 billion dollars from last regular session’s budget was trimmed from existing agency and program budgets.
SB1: Suspends certain Capital Improvement Projects for now.
SB2: Temporarily suspends eligibility requirements for the Governor Guinn Millennium
Scholarship Program.
SB3: Temporarily accelerates methods on how the net proceeds from mining are collected. SB4: Temporarily changes the government borrowing program through the issuance of bonds

SB4: Temporarily changes the government borrowing program through the issuance of bonds.

There was an attempt to pass a bill (AB4) to change the structure of the way mining’s “net proceeds” amounts are arrived at through legislatively created deductions that failed after much debate.
The session was one of the longest in Nevada history and acrimonious at times. The second special session rumored to start this week or next will deal with pressing policy issues: 1) Elections-especially focusing on mail-in ballots, 2) public safety reforms in local law enforcement procedures, and 3) a very important topic and both the state and federal levels: safe workplaces. There is a current attempt in Nevada (as well as in the US Senate) to shield employers-both public and private-from liability for their workforces’ safety (or lack thereof) during this pandemic. This is completely unacceptable and AFSCME Local 4041 has signed onto a letter to Governor Sisolak along with multiple other labor groups including Northern and Southern Nevada Labor Councils, SEIU and the Teamsters in creating “Nevada Workers Coalition”. The retirees support our labor brothers and sisters in the fight and will make our voices heard in the next special session.
Becoming a” Virtual Activist”
I recently had the opportunity through the Nevada AFL-CIO’s “Labor 2020” program to try my hand at using tools online to do phone banking-a thing that we normally do during campaigns “face-to-face”. It was easy to learn and I’d like to share my experience with you.
As you are probably familiar, when we do activities like phone banking we gather together in a union hall or maybe someone’s home, have snacks, a lot of fun and make calls to our members using the event’s phones. But we are now in a different world and have to adapt to the realities of limiting face-to-face contact with each other unfortunately. You already know that our AFSCME Retiree Convention will be held virtually and so we are all learning to adjust to new ways of doing things.
Virtual-at-home phone banking is easy and fun (have your family make the snacks for you as you do this important work!). Before my shifts phone banking I had training from the AFL-CIO with other members that took about 30 minutes or less. You use your own phone and just enter the web address into it that takes you to a log in page where you enter the log in information from the trainer and then you get started. Instead of a paper script to follow the program directs you to a single page which tells you what you need to know about the person you’re calling and what to ask. When you are through with the call you are prompted to hang up and save your conversation info. After you’re done, the program automatically pulls up another call for you to do-easy right? I was able to get through a lot of calls in a couple of hours-from the convenience of my own home. In the weeks to come, we may be hosting such a virtual phone bank or ask you if you’d be willing to volunteer for one-everything helps!

EMAILS: Finally, every newsletter we ask you to PLEASE give us an email address by sending it to our office email: [email protected]
We can’t stress enough how much we need email addresses to be able to get you a rapid response when things are as serious as they have been for this last five months. We only have about a third of the membership’s email addresses on file. Please help us out with your email addresses so we can keep you in the loop quickly and easily in this fast-moving time