- Associated Press - Sunday, February 12, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Policy proposals will crop up and lawmakers will continue their budget hearings, but an independent review of certain school programs will star in the second week of the Nevada Legislature.

Here’s more on that and other things to watch at the Capitol this week:

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EDUCATION INITIATIVE AUDIT

An external audit of the extensive education reforms Nevada made at the request of Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2015 will be unveiled Wednesday in the Assembly Committee on Education.

The report card could greatly affect how lawmakers and the governor decide to distribute funding to schools and teachers in the 2017-2019 budget.

“I think that people will be encouraged by the results of this report,” said Greg Bortolin, education department spokesman.

The short-term audit was a component of seven programs created or expanded two years ago focusing on English literacy, teacher quality, professional development, school safety and access to technology. A longer-term audit also will be conducted.

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DIPLOMAS FOR THE DISABLED

Education officials are looking to expand career options for kids with special needs through legislation that would personalize the requirements for disabled students to earn a high school diploma.

Assembly Bill 64, also being heard Wednesday by the Assembly education panel, would allow kids with disabilities to incorporate special education work into state requirements to graduate from high school. For those who do not meet certain standards in math and language arts but fulfill their special education programs, the bill would create a new “adjusted diploma.”

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MINIMUM WAGE

Members of the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor will dedicate an entire meeting Wednesday to discussing issues surrounding the minimum wage.

Nevada’s minimum wage has not increased since 2010 and matches the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. However, employers who do not facilitate health insurance must pay workers at least $8.25 an hour.

Democrats have introduced Senate Bill 106 to raise the wage floor by 75 cents each of the next five years.

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ENERGY AGENDA

Democrats amped on solar and geothermal energy as alternatives to the natural gas that lights up Nevada are cementing that priority with the initiation of a subcommittee. The new Assembly panel will meet Monday to hear from renewable energy companies and advocates and gather Wednesday to hear from gas and electric companies in Nevada.


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