Restore A Living Wage For State Workers
Legislative Update Week of February 11, 2013
On Monday February 11th the Assembly Government Affairs Committee heard testimony on AB-13 and AB-59. AFSCME testified against both bills.
AB-13 would affect our Local Government members by eliminating the time limits of the Employee Management Relations Board (EMRB) to hold a hearing once it makes a determination to hold a hearing. Currently the EMRB must hold a hearing within 90 days once it makes its determination to hold a hearing. If this bill were to pass in its current form, there would be no requirement to hold a hearing.
AB-59 would set the stage for the Nevada System of Higher Education to contract for inspections of its buildings and facilities. Currently these inspections are required to be conducted by the State. This bill is bad for AFSCME members and for the safety of the public.
Tuesday February 12th, Michael Willden, Director of Health & Human Services sat side by side by yes, Brian Patchett, Director of the famous Easter Seals before the Senate Health & Human Services. The reason for their appearance was how to maximize the use of federal dollars. Easter Seals as you may or may not know has a 20 year, $1 lease from the State for its headquarters on West Oakey Blvd. AFSCME will be arguing against the renewal of this “sweet deal lease” when it expires this spring. Easter Seals is attempting to expand its disability services in the State. Maximizing the “federal dollar” is another phrase for privatizing services. We are following these moves closely.
Wednesday February 13th, the Assembly Government Affairs Committee heard testimony on AB-41. AFSCME testified against this bill with support testimony from the Painters Union and the Northern Nevada Building Trades. Section 2 of this bill increases the authority when a State agency may contract directly for services from $100,000 to $250,000. This increase would remove the requirement for approval Board of Examiners for service contracts $250,000 and below. Examples given by the Department of Administration were professional services such as physicians, psychologists, therapists. Also the expansion of custodial service contracts was given as an example. This bill should be called the “Government for Sale” legislation.
Thursday February 14th, the Senate Finance & Assembly Ways and Means Joint Subcommittee on Health & Human Services heard testimony regarding the Mental Health Services proposed budget from Richard Whitley and Dr. Tracey Green. This budget covers five agencies: Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (SNAMHS), Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (NNAMHS), Lake’s Crossing Center, and Rural Services, and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Programs (SAPTA), that provide community mental health programs, in-patient psychiatric treatment programs, forensic in-patient programs, services for Nevadans. Richard Whitley testified that budget requests included funds for upgrading the billing software and hardware for better outcomes on Medicaid billing. Community partners-non profits, apparently have been adequately capturing Medicaid reimbursements because of their poor billing practices. Richard Whitley proposed that the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) provided the billing services for the Community Partners. There was no proposal to charge the Community Partners for the costs of these services! Also in the budget, as presented by Mr. Whitley is a proposal to increase the salaries for the “Statewide Mental Health Coordinators” so that the positions “remain competitive”. Yes these two new positions are for Richard Whitley and Dr. Tracey Green. How more self-serving and people be? Stay tuned. Finally, both Mr. Whitley and Dr. Green testified about changing the “Service Delivery Model”, including the privatizing of facilities to obtain licensure as a tool to enhance the capturing of more of those Medicaid dollars.
Monday, February 18th: Yes, even on Washington’s Birthday. AB-63 will be heard by the Assembly Committee on Commerce & Labor. This bill expands the list of exempt classifications that are not eligible for payment of overtime, such as computer systems analysts, computer programmers, software engineers, and other similarly skilled employees. Further exemptions are not necessary.
Tuesday, February 19th at 8:00am: The Assembly Committee on Ways & Means, Subcommittee on Public Safety, Natural Resources & Transportation & Senate Committee on Finance, Joint Subcommittee on Public Safety, Military & Veterans Services, will hear the Department of Corrections budget presentation on Parole Services, Nevada Restitution Center, Southern Desert Correctional Center, Jean Conservation Camp, Ely State Prison, Casa Grande, Florence McClure Correctional Center, and High Desert Correctional Center. AFSCME will be present and make comment if necessary.
At 3:30pm the Legislative Commission Subcommittee to review Regulations will meet.
Wednesday, February 20th at 8:00am a Joint Meeting of the Assembly Committee of Ways & Means & Senate Committee on Finance will hear further Health & Human Services budget presentations.
Thursday, February 21st at 8:00am the Senate Committee on Finance, Joint Subcommittee on Public Safety, Military & Veterans Services & Assembly Committee on Ways & Means, Joint Subcommittee of Public Safety, Natural Resources & Transportation, will hear the Department of Motor Vehicles budget presentation.
AFSCME Local 4041 wants to keep its members informed on what is taking place during this legislative session. This weekly update is just one part of this effort. If you know of co-workers who are not receiving this update, and would like to receive it, have them contact Cathie Timmons at: Cathie@nvafscme.org .
AFSCME Local 4041 will also be sending out text updates on specific issues and hearings as the legislative session progresses. In order to receive the texts, we need your cell phone number. So please contact Cathie Timmons at: Cathie@nvafscme.org .
Also, if you have any comments regarding any bill or budget item that affects you, please send your comments to: Cathie@nvafscme.org .
Together we will restore a living wage and protect the rights of all State Workers!