Welcome to the end of Week 4 of the Legislative Session! We have 95 days left until it’s over. Jumping right in, the bills that got a hearing this week were AB134 and AB151. AB134, by Assemblywoman Martinez, removes barriers that prevent people with substance felonies from receiving services like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). People with all other types of felonies are able to receive these; it is time we stop unfairly penalizing those with this conviction. It is important to note that Nevada has still not recovered from the 2008 recession and food insecurity is very prevalent, so these people are being left to struggle without this necessary assistance.
AB151, by Assemblywoman Gonzalez, ends driver’s license suspension for minor unpaid traffic fines and fees. It is mainly communities of color and impoverished people that are unable to pay these fees. It is also not always feasible for many to be able to show up for their court hearing. It can often turn into a vicious cycle of not being able to pay, driving with a suspended license, then getting pulled over and having more fees. This is especially severe for those who are undocumented.
The bill that was introduced this week was AB161, by Assemblywoman Torez. It serves to end summary evictions in Nevada. This bill works hand in hand with AB141 to make Nevada a better place for renters and close some of the large power gaps that exist between tenants and landlords. In order to better understand these bills, you need to understand the two types of evictions that exist in Nevada. The first is a Summary Evictions. Nevada is one of the few states to have these types of evictions because they are unfair to tenants. It allows landlords to file for evictions with the court without the knowledge of the tenant. The eviction hearing and can decision to grant the eviction can all be done without the tenant’s knowledge or presence. The landlord can then post a 7-day ‘pay or vacate’ notice, then after 7 days, the landlord can change the locks, and the tenant is evicted. This is very unfair for many reasons, but mainly because the tenant must essentially sue themselves in order to dispute the decision, and the landlord is given too much power. A formal eviction done in most other states is more closely tied to the court. The landlord gives the tenant an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, and then they file a complaint with the court. The tenant gets a court summons, and after attending the hearing, an eviction may or may not be granted. The main difference is that in Nevada, summary evictions take away tenants’ rights to due process for losing their home.
With COVID-19, many people are struggling to pay their rent and are waiting for rental assistance from the government. This process may take well over 7 days, so a summary eviction notice is nowhere near enough time. You can try and show the courts you are waiting for your rent assistance, but even then you may still be evicted. However, the moratorium in Nevada is actually ending this month, so the failure of these bills to go through could mean countless evicted Nevadans. This is where AB141 becomes necessary as well. One thing this bill will do is expand the timeline for no-cause evictions. No-cause evictions can happen when a landlord decides to evict a tenant for any reason they see fit, even if there is no breach of contract. Specifically, AB141 extends the time weekly renters have before the eviction to two weeks and expands the time from 30 to 45 days for tenants that have lived there for over a year. With these two bills, we want to make sure everyone gets due process by abolishing the summary eviction and keep everyone in their homes as long as possible.
Please continue to help us help those in need by expressing your support for these bills here, and keep checking in with us for weekly updates on the Nevada Legislative Session!