There were many losses in the children’s policy space but a few proposals did advance and gained the approval of the governor, such as SB232, which requires Nevada’s Medicaid program to cover postpartum care services for 12 months following the end of pregnancy.
The governor also approved AB137, which changes the term “fetal alcohol syndrome” in statute to “fetal alcohol spectrum disorder” to expand research, teaching, access to Medicaid coverage and data collection of the range of disorders associated with a baby being introduced to alcohol before birth.
Lawmakers also passed child sexual exploitation policies that the governor approved including AB183, which mandates that children in child welfare or juvenile justice settings statewide will now be screened for commercial sexual exploitation.
The Children’s Advocacy Alliance supported AB114, which was signed into law. The bill will change the makeup of the Early Childhood Advisory Council to add a wider range of voices.
Nevada has maintained low rankings in early childhood systems and lawmakers this session failed to advance measures that advocates for children said are key to boosting family and child stability. That includes AB113, sponsored by Assemblywoman Claire Thomas (D-North Las Vegas), which would have created a new office focused on pre-K programs, or daily classes for children 3 to 5 years old. The measure never passed a budget committee review.
Thomas also sponsored AB168, which died in a budget committee, but would have established a Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Program to study the deaths of infants younger than 1 with data on demographics, geographical locations and causes of death.
AB445, a bill from Assemblywoman Sabra Newby (D-Las Vegas) that would have awarded tax abatements to businesses that provide mental health services for children, also didn’t make it out of a budget committee.
Treasurer Zach Conine pushed for AB28, a bill that would have created $3,200 “baby bonds” for low-income families in Nevada in an attempt to address the state’s growing wealth inequality but the measure died in the Senate even after being scaled back. The bonds would have been invested by the treasurer until the beneficiary turned 18, when they could use it for expenses such as tuition or buying a house.
Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) introduced SB137, which would require Nevada Medicaid to cover donor breast milk for certain babies, including preemies, but it died without a committee vote after one hearing.
Another policy that died without a hearing was SB89, which would have specified that people who commit a sex trafficking crime face the same penalties if the crime is committed against a child or against an undercover officer.
Lawmakers wanted the Division of Child and Family Services to receive categorical grants annually, rather than incentive payments to child welfare agencies through SB41. But the policy failed to advance out of its first committee and included unfunded mandates imposed by the Legislature upon child welfare agencies, a reduction in federal funding and didn’t take into account the effects of shrinking Medicaid reimbursements.
Another policy that focused on children’s mental health that failed to advance was AB338. The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Sarah Peters (D-Reno), would have extended Medicaid coverage to art therapy services such as music, drawing, dance and art.
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D-North Las Vegas) brought back a bill that would have increased regulations of midwives and established a Board of Licensed Certified Professional Midwives, after it failed to pass in 2021. AB386 passed out of the Assembly but failed to receive a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate, which is required for any policies that increase revenue for the state.
SB408 would have raised the age a child could be transferred from juvenile court and incarceration to adult criminal proceedings to 16 years old, but did not pass, even after an amendment lowered the age back to 14 years old.