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October 24, 2014

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Worker safety training plan sent back for a rewrite

Lawmakers told the state Division of Industrial Relations to take another swipe at developing a regulation to require safety training for Nevada construction workers.

The Legislative Committee to Review Regulations declined to approve the division’s proposed rule, saying it left too many questions unanswered, including whether employers must grant time off for workers to attend the 10-hour training or pay the training costs.

In the wake of more than 20 worker deaths in 18 months, the 2009 Legislature passed a law requiring 10 hours of safety training within 15 days of being hired. Businesses that hire workers without the training face initial fines of $500, $1,000 fines for second offenses and up to $7,000 for violations thereafter. Supervisors are required to complete 30-hour safety courses.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-Las Vegas, said the proposed regulation also left unanswered questions about the definition of a supervisor, whether a worker could qualify by taking an online course and why Transportation Department workers are exempted from the requirement.

Division Administrator Don Jayne had planned to hold a public hearing Dec. 22 to gather comments on the regulation. But Kirkpatrick and other committee members said they would not vote in advance to adopt a regulation that could be changed after the public hearing.

Jayne said the regulation needs to take effect so the agency can enforce the training law, which becomes effective Jan. 1.

•••

Nevada will lose $917 in federal funding annually for every person missed by the 2010 census. That fact is motivating state officials to make sure every person is counted.

The Nevada Legislature allocated $960,000 for a campaign to make Nevadans aware of the census. Nine companies have submitted bids and the contract should be awarded in time for work to begin in January.

Seventy-five students at the University of Nevada, Reno, are working on a program for rural Nevada, where the count rate is the lowest.

Nevada placed 45th among states in responses to the 1990 census. The state showed the biggest improvement in 2000, climbing to 19th.

In addition to federal funding, the census will determine whether Nevada rates a fourth representative in Congress and will be used by the 2011 Legislature to redraw boundaries for Assembly and Senate seats.

On March 15 census forms will be mailed. On April 1 there will be a snapshot of the population. On May 1 census workers will knock on doors to determine why households did not return forms or to clarify responses.

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Nevada is facing a Jan. 1 deadline on compliance with the federal Real ID Act.

The Legislative Committee to Review Regulations declined to approve a Department of Motor Vehicles plan to comply with the act by issuing two driver’s licenses.

The department proposes continuing to issue its standard license. In addition, the state would issue an advanced security license, which would permit the bearer to more easily board planes and enter federal buildings that now require identification.

To qualify for an advanced license, a person would have to show a valid, unexpired U.S. passport, a certified copy of a birth certificate by a state or local office of public health, or documents from the Homeland Security Department or State Department.

Lawmakers said they were unhappy with the plan to issue two types of licenses. They wondered whether it might lead to job discrimination.

The committee told DMV Director Edgar Roberts to approve an emergency 120-day regulation to satisfy the federal Jan. 1 deadline. But Roberts said the federal government would not accept a temporary regulation as proof the state is moving forward in implementing the federal law.

Roberts and his staff are to meet Monday with Gov. Jim Gibbons’ staff to discuss the situation.

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