Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2019

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Government employees in Nevada could get foreclosure protection in future shutdowns

No pay for federal workers

Associated Press

On the 20th day of a partial government shutdown, federal employees rally at the Capitol to protest the impasse between Congress and President Donald Trump over his demand to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019.

Months after the end of the longest government shutdown in United States history, the Nevada Legislature has taken up a bill that would alleviate financial pressures on government workers in future shutdowns.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, would stall proceedings on foreclosures and evictions in some circumstances during a shutdown for state and federal workers and members of their households. The legislation also includes contractors.

It was introduced Tuesday to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary.

About 3,000 federal workers in Nevada were left adrift by the shutdown, including airport TSA agents.

“I thought this was a thoughtful piece of legislation to let them know we’ve got their back,” Frierson said.

The bill comes on the heels of the longest shutdown in U.S. history, triggered over a funding dispute between President Donald Trump and Congress for a proposed southern border wall. Trump sought $5.7 billion for the wall.

The shutdown ended with the president signing a national emergency declaration to fund the wall, which has triggered political and legal challenges.

Workers missed two consecutive paychecks during the 35-day shutdown, leaving many concerned about how to pay their bills. It affected 800,000 federal workers nationwide, according to The New York Times.

This Nevada bill would mitigate those concerns by barring foreclosures from the start of a shutdown until 90 days after the end of one, for federal or state workers — or in some circumstances, a household member of said workers. Workers would still be obligated to cover the missed payments.

The bill would require courts to stay the hearing of a civil action for a foreclosure until 90 days after the end of the shutdown, or “adjust the obligation to preserve the interest of the parties,” if they find the shutdown has materially affected the worker’s ability to fulfill the obligation.

It would allows tenants who are federal or state workers, or household members of such, to request to be allowed to stay in a rented unit from the beginning of a shutdown until 30 days after the end of the shutdown — a request the landlord must approve. This would grant a reprieve from eviction proceedings during that time.

The bill also prohibits a person from repossessing a car from a federal or state worker or household member from the beginning of a shutdown until 30 days after the end of the shutdown. The bill would also make workers eligible for assistance in paying utility bills with the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

There are penalties attached to the bill as well. Any person found in violation of repossessing a car or foreclosing on a home when they are barred from doing so could be charged with a misdemeanor.

There was no action taken on the bill at its committee hearing Tuesday.