By Tray Abney
The Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, working with our business coalition partners from across the state, was able to hold the line on anti-business and government expenditure reform legislation during the 2017 Nevada Legislative Session.
The biggest issues that we dealt with were minimum wage increase and mandatory paid sick leave proposals. While most of our members pay well above the minimum wage and offer time off for their valued employees to take care of personal matters, the one-size-fits-all requirements that were proposed would have made it very difficult for small businesses to comply with and made it more expensive to hire people. These were perverse incentives to push companies to operate with as few employees as possible.
Add to this the efforts to increase fines, penalties and lawsuit opportunities; it was a very busy session for us!
The Chamber also worked to protect every Nevada taxpayer from being victimized by the rollback of critical reforms that occurred last session. Efforts to increase the construction cost of new schools, pay public employees with tax dollars to conduct private labor union business and make every new home more expensive were confronted and defeated.
While it would have been ideal if most of these bills were defeated in the legislative building before they ever reached Governor Sandoval’s desk, business owners owe a debt of gratitude to the Governor, who wielded his veto pen over thirty times this year. The Chamber asked for several vetoes on legislation that covers the issues mentioned above and Governor Sandoval should be applauded for standing up for those who provide the ultimate quality of life to Nevadans: a job. Because of his actions this year, small business owners will be able to continue to provide jobs and can expect a more educated and qualified workforce entering through their doors.
Let’s not leave the impression that every bill or policy activity in this year’s legislature was negative. The business community pro-actively worked with several bill sponsors in order to ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding workers are appropriately accommodated in the workplace, that employees who are victims of domestic violence can have time to take care of their needs and that small businesses have expanded knowledge of and access to various financing options.
And special credit should be given to Senator Julia Ratti (D), who bravely spearheaded the charge to fix our outdated and unfair property tax system. While we have a long road ahead of us, her efforts have started us on a strong path.
Let’s face it. Most Nevadans (and most business owners) don’t want to be engaged in the political process. And who can blame them? But we know that participating in the policy-making process is critical for job providers. The Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce exists to represent and advocate for you in the halls of power so that you can continue to feed your family and provide jobs so that others can do so as well. It is important for business owners to have a loud, collective voice. We facilitate that for you. Please visit www.thechambernv.org or call 775-636-9550 for more information about how we can help you succeed.