Posts Tagged ‘job creation’

Nevada Small Business Owners Say Minimum Wage, Construction Defect Laws Hampering Job Growth

By Sean Whaley | 2:27 pm February 14th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Members of the Nevada chapter of a small business organization say the state’s minimum wage and construction defects laws are hampering job growth in the state.

The state’s prevailing wage law was also cited as a drag on economic development in the survey of its members by the Nevada chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Randi Thompson, Nevada state director of NFIB, said about 50 of the 1,800 members statewide responded to the survey, which was conducted in December and delivered to Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Hill had asked what laws and regulations needed to be changed to spur job growth in Nevada.

“We were delighted at the invitation and jumped at the chance to contribute our members’ ideas on how to get our state’s economy moving again,” Thompson said. “When coupled with the results from our regular annual balloting of NFIB members, the results of which will be out soon, we believe the state will have a much firmer grasp on where it needs to go once it has the opinions of the Nevada’s leading job-generators.”

Thompson said Gov. Brian Sandoval has made it clear that he wants to make the state an even more business friendly state with his call earlier this month to eliminate or revamp more than 1,700 state regulations following a one-year review.

“Small businesses account for nearly two thirds of all new hires on average, making them a critical component to lead Nevada out of this recession,” she said.

Sandoval said today he believes all three issues will come up for discussion in the 2013 legislative session based on what he has heard from some lawmakers.

Sandoval said he supported changes to the construction defect legislation in 2011 and will do so again next year.

“Particularly with regard to mandatory attorneys’ fees in those cases,” he said. “I’d like to see some reform with regard to that. I’ve had several conversations with the contractors on that issue.”

Thompson said repealing Nevada’s minimum wage law will not be a top priority in 2013 just because of the time it takes to change the state constitution.

“I think the one we can take a bite-sized chunk out of is the construction defects,” she said. “My folks pretty much just want to revoke it. They want to pull out the whole chapter. They don’t want to sit down and negotiate it. It is so driven towards lawyers and not toward protecting consumers that that law needs dramatic change.”

Changes to the prevailing wage law would give taxpayers more public construction projects for their money, Thompson said.

“You still will make a good living wage, but prevailing wage is not a market-based wage,” she said. “And the way we do prevailing wage in this state is probably something else that our Labor Commissioner needs to look at.”

Respondents to the NFIB survey said they wanted to entirely revoke the construction defects law contained in Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 40, which Thompson said opens the door to class action lawsuits against any contractor or subcontractor involved in building homes, apartments, or condominiums – regardless of responsibility for the defect.

Ray Pezonella, owner of Pezonella Associates, an engineering firm in Reno, said that construction-defects legal fees costs him anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 each year, whether his work was connected to the defect or not. Because that amount is below his insurance deductible, he has to pay for it directly.

Reno businessman Ray Pezonella. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“The lawyers just sit down and tell you it will cost you ‘X’ to settle the suit, or we’ll go to court,” Pezonella said. “Even if we did nothing wrong on the job, we write them a check. Where is the justice in that?”

The concern with the minimum wage provision in the state constitution is that it has the effect of setting the Nevada rate at $1 over the federal minimum wage rate.

Thompson said there is interest in the small business community for removing such “tax and wage” issues from the state’s constitution, or in the alternative, seeking an exemption for tipped employees.

Tax policy should not be set in the constitution, she said.

Voters put the minimum wage rate in the state constitution, however, and repealing it would require the state Legislature to approve a change in two sessions, which would then have to be approved by voters.

State Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, introduced legislation in the 2011 session to begin the process of removing the minimum wage requirement from the state constitution, but the measure did not survive.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the minimum wage proposal, which continues to be strongly defended by the Nevada state AFL-CIO, which qualified the measure for the ballot.

Thompson said the third issue, which is the practice of paying prevailing wage on government funded construction projects such as schools and roads, is a concern because it adds to the costs that must be paid by taxpayers.

Some states have implemented changes to their prevailing wage laws, and some Nevada lawmakers are considering changes as well, she said.


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says all three issues are expected to be debated in the 2013 legislative session:

021412Sandoval1 :08 debated in 2013.”

Sandoval says he supports changes to the construction defect law:

021412Sandoval2 :23 on that issue.”

Randi Thompson, Nevada state director of NFIB, says changes to the construction defect law are possible in 2013:

021412Thompson1 :21 needs dramatic change.”

Thompson says reforming the prevailing wage law would save taxpayer money:

021412Thompson2 :15 to look at.”


State Job Creation Efforts Move Forward With Funding Of New Economic Development Office

By Sean Whaley | 6:00 pm December 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Efforts by Gov. Brian Sandoval and state lawmakers to encourage new business creation, relocation and expansion in Nevada took a major step forward today when the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee approved nearly $3.5 million to fund a new economic development office.

The funding will enable Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development, to develop a state economic development plan and hire the staff needed to move forward on private sector job creation efforts.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The state plan, relying in part on research performed by the Brookings Institution and SRI International, is expected to be released in early February. The report identified seven economic sectors, some already in existence such as gaming and tourism, and some emerging, such as clean energy, where Nevada should focus its efforts.

Lawmakers peppered Hill with questions ranging from the measures that will be used to determine the success of his agency’s efforts at job creation to the proposed salaries of the eight positions that will be filled with a portion of the funding.

Positions approved for his office include three industry specialists at a maximum salary of $110,000 each, an industry analyst with a maximum salary of $90,000, a communications manager with a maximum salary of $80,000, and a technology commercialization director with a maximum salary of $110,000. There are also two support positions with maximum salaries of $40,000.

The new approach to economic development is the result of Assembly Bill 449, a measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, and supported by Gov. Brian Sandoval and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers. The bill also established a $10 million Catalyst Fund to help firms relocated or expand in Nevada. The money will be used to provide grants to local governments for economic development projects.

“I am in the process of finishing my 10th week on the job,” Hill told lawmakers. “And I think I can provide very solid reasons for the request that we’re making today. But we’re also learning as we’re going along. We understand that resources are tight, not only throughout Nevada but through the country, and we want to spend this money in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

In response to lawmaker questions, Hill said the state plan will include ways to measure the success of the new effort.

“There will be a detailed description of how we will measure progress in economic development and in the development of our economy in the state,” he said.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, chairwoman of the IFC, asked Hill if the funding request is premature since the state plan has not yet been published.

“So I think the question is, without the state plan, where is the confidence level in moving forward with all of these positions and this work without the state plan being done, kind of relying solely on the Brookings report?” she asked.

Hill said the budget request will be in alignment with the state plan.

“And finally I think we all sense, the governor and the Legislature, everybody involved in economic development throughout the state, and the citizens of Nevada, an urgency to get started on this,” he said.

Nevada’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation.


Audio clips:

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development says he wants to spend the money as efficiently as possible:

121511Hill1 :27 efficient way possible.”

Hill says the state plan will provide clear ways to measure progress:

121511Hill2 :11 in the state.”

Hill says there is an urgency to get started on the agency’s efforts:

121511Hill3 :16 started on this.”

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith questions the timing of the funding request without a state plan in place:

121511Smith :23 the Brookings report.”


Lawmaker Questions Accuracy of Federal Stimulus Reporting in Nevada

By Sean Whaley | 11:05 am November 11th, 2009

CARSON CITY – A state lawmaker yesterday questioned the accuracy and completeness of the reporting on the use of federal stimulus funds in Nevada.

Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, asked how it is possible that thousands of jobs have been “created or retained” in Nevada with stimulus funds while the state unemployment rate continues to rise.

Raggio, a member of a legislative panel charged with reviewing the use of federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds in Nevada, said he would like to know how many jobs were actually created as opposed to “retained” under the stimulus program.

“I don’t think we’re getting, and the public isn’t getting, a really accurate picture of just what the stimulus funding is creating with respect to jobs,” he said.

More specific and detailed information is needed to communicate what the program is doing for Nevada, particularly in job creation, Raggio said.

“I think this is important information, and I don’t for a moment believe that 4,000 teachers would have been laid off but for stimulus money,” he said. “So I think we need to know how many jobs were actually created. And I am not getting that information either from the state or the federal report.”

The Nevada state website that reports the use of stimulus funds shows 5,080 jobs created or retained with the stimulus funds, including 4,190 jobs in education. The jobs information is not broken out between created or retained on the state website.

Local governments and agencies report their own stimulus fund spending.

Raggio’s questions came during a meeting of the Interim Finance Committee’s Subcommittee for Federal Stimulus Oversight.

David Fraser, executive director of the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities, told lawmakers the jobs information he provided to the committee from the cities was not broken out between new and retained jobs, but would be provided as requested.

Raggio noted that some efforts at reporting new jobs have been made. The city of Las Vegas, for example, has a chart showing its stimulus funding and jobs created. The city of Sparks has also made such an effort, he said.

Debbie Smith, chairwoman of the oversight panel, said every effort needs to be made to provide clear and understandable information to the public about the use of the stimulus funds.

Nevada is expected to receive about $2.1 billion in stimulus funds. But counties, cities, hospitals and other agencies and organizations are receiving stimulus funds directly, and the data is not included on the state website.

State Budget Director Andrew Clinger said an effort is currently under way to get all of the stimulus spending in Nevada available on one website. Funding to approve the state’s share of this effort will be considered by the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee later this month.

Clinger said he understands Raggio’s concerns about the job creation numbers, but said the state has followed federal requirements in reporting the numbers.

The question is, would you have really eliminated those jobs without the stimulus funding, he said.

“We don’t attempt to answer that question,” he said. “We’re just reporting using the federal guidelines.”