By Megan Messerly, The Nevada Independent
It’s been more than a year since the end of the 2017 legislative session, but some laws are only now taking effect.
Several education-related laws officially kick in today, meaning that they will be in place for the upcoming school year: High schools are allowed to offer a civics exam to their students next school year in preparation for a requirement that will go into effect for the following school year; graduating high school seniors will be able to receive a STEM or STEAM seal affixed to their diplomas at the end of the 2018-2019 school year if they meet certain requirements; and high school ethnic and diversity studies courses will have to meet certain standards.
There are also new minimum standards for car insurance, new rules for the state on interacting with companies that boycott Israel and extra requirements to protect Native American burial grounds.
Here’s a rundown of some of the laws that took effect Sunday.
SB308: Minimum standards for car insurance
Starting Sunday, car insurance in Nevada is required to cover a minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person in any crash, $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in any one crash and $20,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one crash. The minimum standards were previously $15,000, $30,000 and $10,000, respectively.
SB452: Vehicle titles
There is a new procedure for anyone who does not have a title for a car and is unable to provide information to the Department of Motor Vehicles sufficient to establish his or her legal ownership of the car. The person may file a bond with the DMV equal to one and one-half times the value of the vehicle, allow the DMV to inspect the vehicle and authorize the DMV to conduct a vehicle history search through the relevant crime information systems.
The bond must protect prior and subsequent owners or lienholders of the vehicle against any expense, loss or damage because of the issuance of the title. The bond must be returned by the DMV at the end of three years unless the DMV has been notified of any action to recover on the bond.
SB176: Mandatory body cameras for police officers
All uniformed police officers who routinely interact with people are required to wear body cameras while on duty starting today. They were previously allowed, but not required, to do so.
The new law requires each law enforcement agency to adopt policies and procedures governing the use of body cameras and mandates that any video recorded by a body camera must be retained by the agency for not less than 15 days. It also requires agencies to adopt disciplinary rules for officers who intentionally manipulate video recorded by a body camera.
The law applies to all sheriff’s offices, metropolitan police departments, police departments of any incorporated city, any department, division or municipal court of a city or town that employs marshals and the Nevada Highway Patrol.
In order to pay for the body cameras, all counties in Nevada are allowed to impose certain surcharges on telephone lines and mobile telephone services.
SB322: High school civics exams
This new law requiring high school students to take a civics exam in order to graduate will be phased in this coming year. The law allows public high schools to require that every student take an exam of no less than 50 questions that is identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test adopted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.
Starting in July 2019, the civic exams will be mandatory and students will not be allowed to graduate high school without having taken the exam.
SB200: Computer education in elementary school
Students in public school will now be required to receive instruction in computer education and technology before beginning sixth grade. The Department of Education is required to, in consultation with the Advisory Council on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, review all instruction in computer education and technology and make recommendations to the state board about whether the instruction should be approved.
The definition of computer education and technology has also been expanded to include computer science and computational thinking. The law also ensures that teachers receive ongoing training in computer science, education and technology.
Other portions of the law went into effect last year, while others still won’t kick in until 2020 and 2022. Starting in 2020 students will be able to apply one unit of credit for a computer science course to a science or math requirement when applying to a public university or college in Nevada, and in 2022, schools will be required to offer at least one computer science course and make efforts to increase the enrollment of underrepresented students in that course.
SB212: Expanding the Safe to Tell Program
This new law requiring stricter investigation requirements for school administrators who receive bullying reports officially goes into effect today, though the state’s new 24-hour anonymous school safety and anti-bullying hotline and reporting app “Safe Voice” has already been up and running.
Under this law, each public school must appoint a team of at least three members of the staff to receive notice of any report submitted to the Safe to Tell program to the school. The team is required to include a school counselor, psychologist, social worker or similar person and a school administrator.
Information reported to the Safe to Tell program must be forwarded to that team, law enforcement agencies and others. The director of the Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment within the Department of Education is also required to provide the members of that team training about the appropriate response to such a report.
Although prior law required the state to operate a hotline or call center to receive reports, this bill required the establishment of a support center including a hotline, website, phone app and text messaging app. School districts are required to print the number of the hotline on the back of each student and staff identification card and post the number in certain locations around the school.
Schools are now also required to include a plan for providing counseling services into their overall school crisis or emergency plan.
SB241: STEAM and STEAM seals on high school diplomas
Students who are deemed highly proficient in science, technology, engineering and math will be able to graduate next year with a STEM seal attached to their diploma, while students proficient in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math can receive a STEAM seal.
In order to receive the STEM seal, students must receive a 3.25 grade point average or 3.85 grade point average; have earned at least four credits in science, four credits in math and one credit in computer science, engineering, manufacturing, electronics or a related subject; and have earned a certain minimum score on an advanced placement, international baccalaureate, SAT or ACT exam in math and science.
To receive a STEAM seal, students must meet the same grade requirements as necessary for a STEM seal; have earned at least three credits in science, four credits in math, one credit in computer science and one credit in fine arts; and have earned a certain minimum score on an advanced placement, international baccalaureate, SAT or ACT exam in math and science.
SB107: Setting standards for ethnic and diversity studies courses
This new law requires the Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools to establish standards of content and performance for ethnic and diversity studies for high school students. The bill went into effect last May for purposes of adopting necessary regulations and performing any administrative functions needed to carry out the law but takes full effect today.
The new standards are required to examine the culture, history and contributions of the African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American, European American, Basque American and any other communities the council decides to include; emphasize sensitivity toward all races and diverse populations; and be written in a way that allows school districts or charter schools to modify the content to reflect the demographics of the community they serve.
School districts or charter schools offering courses in ethnic and diversity studies are required to comply with these new standards.
SB132: Individual graduation plans
This new law requires the board of trustees of each school district (and permits the governing bodies of any charter school) to adopt policies allowing for the creation of individual graduation plans for students who are not likely to graduate on time, have scored poorly on the college and career readiness assessment and have attended or will attend school in another country as a foreign exchange student for at least one semester.
Students with such a plan are allowed to remain enrolled in high school for up to three semesters after the date on which he or she was supposed to graduate. School districts are allowed to withdraw individual graduation plans if the students are not making sufficient progress.
Any students who receive below a certain level on their college and career readiness assessments are required to enroll in the maximum number of units of credit per semester allowed by the school in which he or she is enrolled unless his or her plan specifies otherwise.
School counselors are required to establish and annually review specific educational goals for each student in consultation with his or her parents. Schools must also ensure that the student and his or her parents are aware of certain information about postsecondary and vocational education, including the average college and career readiness score of students admitted to each community college, state college or state university and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
SB391: Nevada Promise Scholarship
The Nevada Promise Scholarship provides last-dollar financial aid to students enrolled in any of the state’s community colleges. Though parts of the law have been slowly going into effect over the last year, the final provisions of the bill take effect today and students will be able to receive the scholarship starting this fall.
SB26: Limits on companies that boycott Israel
Local governments and the state’s purchasing administrator may no longer enter into contracts with companies unless the contract includes a written certification that the company is not engaged in and agrees for the length of the contract not to boycott Israel. The treasurer is also now required to identify so-called scrutinized companies — those that boycott Israel — in which any public fund invests money and prepares an annual report on the investment of such money to submit to the governor and the Legislature.
The treasurer is also required to divest all direct holdings from such companies from the assets he or she manages, as well as request that the manager of any indirect holdings consider divesting from those companies so long as doing so is consistent with his or her fiduciary responsibilities. The law also requires the Public Employees’ Retirement Board to identify scrutinized companies in which it has direct holdings and prepare an annual report.
SB244: Preservation of Native American burial sites
This law, which goes into full effect today, prohibits a person from excavating a site on private lands that is a prehistoric Native American burial site unless the person first obtains a permit from the director of the Nevada State Museum. Permits are not required if the person has obtained a permit under federal law for the same purpose.
The state museum director and the Office of Historic Preservation are required to establish a process for repatriation of prehistoric Native American human remains and funerary objects. Remains and other items are to be returned to the closest culturally affiliated Native American tribe.
Anyone who willfully removes, mutilates, defaces, injures or destroys a Native American cairn or grave will be fined $2,000 for the first offense and $4,500 for the second or subsequent offence. The knowing and willful removal, mutilation, excavation, defacement, injury or destruction of a historic or prehistoric site or the trafficking of cultural property obtained from state land without a permit carries a fine of $1,000 for the first offense and $3,500 for second and subsequent offenses.
The law also expands the membership of both the Board of Museums and History and the Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation to include a member appointed by the governor with the recommendation of an enrolled member of a Nevada Native American tribe.
AB387: Social workers continuing education
Starting Sunday, social workers are required to complete two hours of evidence-based suicide prevention and awareness instruction every two years in order to renew their annual licenses. Previously, social workers were required to complete two hours of instruction every year. The new law expires on June 30, 2026.
AB413: Electronic notary publics
Electronic notary publics may now use audio-video communication to complete an electronic notarial act. The electronic notary public is required to record the electronic notarial act and inform all persons participating that the act is being recorded. Electronic notary publics are required to describe each act in an electronic journal, protect the electronic journal at all times and provide for the lawful inspection of the journal.