By SAM METZ AP/Report for America
Now that Nevada has rung in the new year, residents of the state will pay less for electricity, have more judges in their courts and have their doctors file certain prescriptions electronically. Unlike most states, Nevada’s state Legislature only meets every other year and most of the bills passed when they last met for a regular session in 2019 have already come into effect. Only a handful of other measures take effect Friday.
MORE JUDGES, LESS BACKLOG
Nevada’s population has skyrocketed over the past decade and, with more people have come more court cases. Voters elected judges to eight new posts in the 2020 election, a year after the Legislature voted to fund six new judgeships in Clark County and one in both Elko and Washoe County, respectively. The additional judges enter office on Jan. 4 and will help reduce caseloads and a backlog that has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
OPIOID EPIDEMIC: TRACKING PRESCRIPTIONS ELECTRONICALLY
Nevada is changing the way it tracks prescriptions for controlled substances. To curb prescription drug abuse and rein in the opioid epidemic, doctors in most cases will be required to sent prescriptions for controlled substances to pharmacies electronically. The change, proponents said in 2019, will help decrease the incidence of opioid-related overdoes, most of which are from prescription drugs, enable easier tracking and auditing of prescriptions and make it more difficult to alter prescriptions for those who previously received them on paper.
NV Energy is reducing electricity rates for southern Nevada customers by $93 million in 2021, after the state’s public utility commission approved the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada. The impact will vary based on how much electricity users consume, but the commission said in December that it would decrease the average single-family customer’s bill by about $5 per month. Although unrelated, the reduction could buoy residents struggling to pay their bills due to the coronavirus pandemic and supplement relief programs directed to families struggling to pay for utilities.
Convention, trade show and exhibition workers will be required to complete additional workplace safety training in 2021 after the Legislature passed a bill in 2019 hoping to prevent workplace injuries in one of Las Vegas’ key industries. Union members said the intricate, theatrical displays that workers often build at the Las Vegas Convention Center — including cars on rotating tables, rigged lighting and airplane showcases — are often completed in only a few days. In 2021, supervisors will be required to complete 30-hour health and safety courses and other workers will be required to complete 10-hour courses. The new law tightens loopholes and requires employees to complete approved, not alternate, courses. Employees can be terminated and employers can be fined if the courses aren’t completed by 15 days after they are hired.
Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.