LEAN Marks 2021 Session Successes

Supported Legislation Puts ELCA Social Statements Into Action

When the 2021 Nevada Legislature convened for its biennial, 120-day session in early February, the world was still in the throes of a deadly pandemic. Much of “normal” life was still months away. Most churches still worshipped online. Millions of Americans were out of work, in danger of losing their housing, and searching for the way forward. State legislators stared at huge fiscal holes, deep social fissures, and freshly exposed tears in the social safety net.

Thanks to a series of congressional stimulus packages, the fiscal alarms subsided as winter gave way to spring, which helped reorient Nevada’s assembly and senate toward addressing some of those rips in the fabric of society, many ignored for decades. And that gave the advocate and policy council for Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN) plenty of opportunity to lend its support to legislation that would change Nevadans’ lives for the better.

Guided by the ELCA’s Social Statements and Social Messages, LEAN identified more than 30 active, sponsored bills to follow through the legislative process, with advocate Bill Ledford voicing support, strong support or opposition during virtual committee meetings – where the real “sausage” is made via amendment and debate – conducted via Zoom.

Following are eleven LEAN-supported bills that passed both legislative chambers and have either been signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, or are awaiting his signature, plus one important senate resolution that LEAN heartily endorsed – and one bill that went down to defeat with LEAN’s stated opposition. They are organized under four specific categories tied directly to the Statements. These bills highlight the good work LEAN is doing on behalf of Nevada’s ELCA congregations, and provide the opportunity for parishioners to discuss them, pass them along or use as inspiration to get involved in current community social concerns, and  when the 2023 session approaches.

HUNGER, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Assembly Bill 62 (Passed) – Increases support for savings accounts for low-income citizens

AB 185 (Failed) – Rescinds minimum wage increases voted on last session (Opposed by LEAN)

Senate Bill 209 (Passed): Allows workers to use sick leave for any medical reason

SB420 (Passed): Establishes mechanism for creating a state public healthcare option

VOTER ACCESS

AB321 (Passed) – Establishes permanent law allowing for mail-in ballots in every election

AB422 (Passed) – Creates a modern centralized voter registration database, helping assure accurate information across all agencies and assuring both voter access and legal eligibility

JUSTICE REFORM 

AB158 (Passed) – Lessens penalties of minors offending via alcohol and cannabis, and moves policy from punishment to counseling

AB186 (Passed) – Prohibits Police quotas for citations and arrests, and personnel evaluations based on such

AB396 (Passed) – Restricts cases of police “justifiable homicide” to uniform standards

SB50 – (Passed) — Restricts the legal conditions allowing for no-knock warrants

RACIAL AND GENDER JUSTICE & EQUITY

AB157 (Passed) – Penalizes public use of calling police to infringe on others’ rights

SB327 (Passed) – Adds language to anti-discrimination laws to include racial hair styles

SCR5 (Passed) – Urges certain actions to address the public health crisis in Nevada (systemic racism)

To read either the full text of each piece of legislation, or its digest, click on the live link for each bill.

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