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SNHBA reviews new state laws affecting homebuilding

The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association has a long history of engagement at the Nevada Legislature.

As the largest and oldest trade organization representing the residential construction industry in Nevada, SNHBA takes a keen interest in proposed legislation that is likely to impact the industry, homeowners, potential homebuyers and the business community in general.

During the 2017 legislative session, the association’s legislative committee members and lobbyists reviewed 1,156 bills to determine the possible impact. The association proposed amendments and lobbied for and against more than 100 bills that had the potential to impact the homebuilding industry.

Issues on the table included energy, education, litigation, homeowner protection, recording fees and homeowner associations.

There was significant discussion and legislation at this session on energy issues, largely triggered last year by Nevada voters who overwhelmingly approved the passage of a ballot question to implement energy deregulation.

Energy is a subject near and dear to the homebuilding industry because homebuyers place high value on the cost savings of energy-efficient homes. A typical new home built in Southern Nevada uses less than half of the energy of the national average of existing homes.

Senate Bill 145 establishes the Solar Energy Systems Incentive Program to encourage installation of energy storage systems. It also creates state policy to expand and accelerate the use of electric vehicles in Nevada and support electric-vehicle infrastructure throughout the state. Also, the bill calls for the Public Utilities Commission to establish an incentive pilot program to help homeowners offset the initial cost of a battery system. Home battery storage can be used by the utility to meet its overall energy storage requirement established by the Legislature.

Assembly Bill 405 establishes certain protections for and ensures the rights of a person who uses renewable energy in the state and revises provisions governing “net metering,” which allows homeowners to receive credit for energy they return to the community’s electrical grid.

The new laws make it feasible, once again, for Nevada homeowners to purchase rooftop solar systems and participate in net metering. Solar systems took a blow about two years ago when the Public Utilities Commission ruled against a similar program of energy credits and net metering. Also, the bill put in place important consumer protections for homeowners who choose to install solar panels and participate in the re-established net metering program.

Early in the session, Gov. Brian Sandoval created the Governor’s Energy Choice Committee, which includes 25 members from the private and public sectors and is chaired by Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison. The association nominated, and the governor accepted, the nomination of Jeremy Susac, vice president of government affairs at Lennar Ventures Corp., to represent the homebuilding industry on the committee. Lennar Ventures Corp., is the innovation arm of Lennar Corp., the largest builder in Northern Nevada and one of the top three residential builders in Southern Nevada.

The committee will meet into 2018 to prepare recommendations for the governor and state lawmakers on how best to prepare for the possibility of a deregulated energy market — if voters approve, for a second time, a ballot question in the November 2018 election to implement energy deregulation in Nevada.

The building industry is dealing with a significant shortage of skilled workers, so the association supported legislation to improve workforce education. Senate Bill 66 authorizes school districts and charter schools to offer a work-based learning program with approval of the Nevada Board of Education. The new law removes the limitation that applied to the amount of credit a pupil can obtain for completing an internship so that a pupil may earn one or more credits for completing a work-based learning program.

Also, the law authorizes school districts, charter schools and nonprofit organizations to apply for grants from the Department of Education to develop and implement work-based learning programs in fields, trades and occupations prescribed by the Nevada Board of Education, in consultation with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The association took interest in Assembly Bill 169, which attempts to bring uniformity to county recorder fees. State law sets the fees to record the first page, with additional costs for each additional page, indexing and noncompliance. Clark County charges $17 for the first page, $1 per additional page and $3 per additional title document (if multiple), and per Nevada Revised Statutes, up to, but not to exceed, a $25 noncompliance fee. Effective Oct. 1, AB 169 replaces those fees with a flat fee of $36 (plus technical and legal aid fees).

The association’s legislative action doesn’t end with the closing of the legislative session. Our government affairs’ team of staff, members and lobbyists will remain active during the 2017-2018 interim period when lawmakers, sitting on a variety of committees and working groups, prepare for the 2018 legislative session by researching specific issues and topics, and making recommendations for bills to introduce at the next session.

The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association is pleased to have a seat at the table as an engaged, concerned advocate for the American dream of homeownership in Nevada.

Wayne Laska is the president of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, the oldest and largest trade group representing the residential construction industry in Nevada. He is principal of StoryBook Homes, which he established in 2003 after working 28 years in the Las Vegas-area homebuilding industry.

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