Thursday, May 9, 2013 | 2:44 p.m.
In the next two fiscal years, more money will be poured into programs to stop smoking, immunize newborns and their parents against whooping cough, and instruction to students in Clark County on the use of bows and arrows.
The Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee jointly approved spending by a number of state agencies Thursday.
Some of the budgets include new or increased fees for such things as cattle inspection, metabolic screening for newborns and assessments to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act.
The committees approved Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommendation to spend $500,000 a year for vaccinations for pertussis — commonly known as whooping cough — for newborns, their families and close contacts.
Another $1 million was set aside for a smoking cessation program. State financial experts believe that taxes from the sale of cigarettes is going to continue to increase in the next two years.
The state Department of Wildlife was given permission to spend $91,695 over the next biennium to hire a conservation educator. The position will be used to maintain and expand the archery education program in the Clark County School District. The department plans to begin offering bow hunting classes as part of the hunter education program.
The committees also approved the spending plan by the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers licenses and identification cards every eight years instead of every four years. This would not apply to those over 65, who still would be required to renew their licenses every four years.
Sandoval’s recommendation to raise the per-head tax on livestock will mean an extra $54,808 each year. For stock cattle, the fee will go from 28 cents to 50 cents per head; for hogs and pigs, the increase goes from 7 cents to 30 cents.
The committees also agreed to raise the fee for metabolic screening for newborns. Budget experts say the fee is now added to the hospital bill for families and is then transferred to the state. The present fee of $71 would increase to $81 next fiscal year and to $83 in 2015.
The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange will administer the Affordable Care Act, which is now being financed by federal money. But when the federal money stops, the state must provide the funding for the exchange. To do so, health insurance companies, even if they do not join the insurance exchange, will be assessed $4.95 per member per month. That would yield $3.4 million next fiscal year and $10.6 million in 2015.
Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said he was “not comfortable” that the cost of the Silver State Exchange was being shifted to those outside the system. He served notice he might oppose a bill now in the Legislature to permit this fee.
If Kieckhefer is successful in stopping or amending the bill, the revenue stream to Silver State will have to be reduced.