- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A Nevada Assembly committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would extend school construction bonds and suspend prevailing wage requirements for school projects, shortly after killing it in a split vote.

A motion to advance SB119 to the floor of the Assembly without a recommendation failed on a 7-7 vote. But the Assembly Government Affairs Committee reconsidered the measure later in the morning and two Republican opponents - Assemblymen Glenn Trowbridge and John Moore - switched to “yes” vote. The measure then passed 8-6.

The Republican-sponsored bill would give school boards the authority to continue issuing construction bonds for 10 years beyond the time period approved by voters, although districts would not be allowed to raise property-tax rates to pay debt service on the bonds. Included in the bill is a provision removing prevailing wage, a sort of minimum wage for contractors, for the school construction jobs.

Democrats and unions are strongly opposed to the prevailing-wage provision, saying it would gut the paychecks of middle-class workers and give jobs to out-of-state contractors.

But the bill also has opponents on the other side of the political spectrum.

Several Assembly Republicans said they were concerned that the bond-rollover provisions could be seen as a tax increase, which is why committee chairman Assemblyman John Ellison called for a vote to move the bill without a recommendation to the floor of the Assembly. Ellison said Assembly Republicans were planning to review the bill in private and bring forth any possible amendments on the floor.

Trowbridge and Moore initially said they opposed the bill and had serious concerns with its language. “I could go back and give a 45-minute speech about the problems and concerns I have with the bill,” Trowbridge said.

Moore said he switched his vote despite his personal opposition because he thought it could be defeated on the floor. The Las Vegas Republican said any bond extension should be sent to the voters instead of being approved by the Legislature.

Trowbridge said he changed his vote after realizing that a floor amendment could address his concerns with the bill. He said Republicans hadn’t reached a consensus on the legislation and was planning to meet tomorrow morning to continue discussions.

According to Assembly committee rules, any bill can be reconsidered by majority vote. The rules also prohibit a twice-rejected bill from being heard again.

Senate Republicans Michael Roberson, Ben Kieckhefer and Becky Harris passed an emergency bill out of the Senate on Tuesday that only contained the bond-rollover portion of the bill, and not the prevailing wage section. In a statement released Monday, Republican leadership said a version of the bill needed to go through this week because of upcoming deadlines for school construction.

“Our hope is that the Assembly passes SB119 by the end of this week,” they wrote. “However, it is clear that any further delay past this week will put at risk critical school construction deadlines in Clark County.”

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