Nevada bill could protect casinos from lawsuits and enhance safety

Nevada casino and hotel employees are a step closer to a certain level of regulated safety, as members of the state’s Senate have preliminarily approved Senate Bill 4. If passed, funds would be set aside to ensure safety regulators routinely check resorts to ensure certain steps are being followed to keep employees safe, and keep those businesses safe from some forms of litigation.

After four-hour long hearing on August 3, the bill got through Senate Committee early August 14 by a vote of 18-3. The Nevada Independent notes that this bill dominated conversations, and has been pushed for by casinos, business groups and the Culinary Union.

Gubernatorial Chief of Staff Michelle White spelled out the aims of the bill:

“I want to be clear, the bill being presented tonight does not provide total immunity to all businesses, under all circumstances, far from it. These inevitable bad actors that have ignored and continue to ignore executive branch directives and published health and safety protocols will not be protected from liability for those failures. Those bad actors will continue to face legal consequences.”

The bill would create three new sandards: An outline of enhanced cleaning policines, enhanced protections for employees and immunity from litigation. Local and state health officials would be required to regularly inspect resort hotels every two months and hotels with more than 200 rooms every three months to ensure everyone is following the rules. Initial violations incur a $500 fine, with following violations getting a $1,000 bill.

Southern Nevada would get $2 million to conduct the inspections. Washoe County would get $500,000.  

However the 3 that voted against the bill feel that it goes too far, and not far enough all at once. Left leaning groups, concerned that these businesses will now be free from litigation, are worried that operators and schools, also covered by the bill, would be permitted to cut corners as they don’t have fear of being sued. Republican lawmakers were unhappy that Hospitals didn’t make it into the bill, leaving them open for lawsuits.

Bill Welch, CEO of the Nevada Hospital Association, said:

“Throughout this pandemic, we have worked closely with Governor Sisolak and his office to fully support his goals to flatten the curve and protect hospital capacity. As written, this bill puts that capacity at risk, and undermines our efforts to protect Nevadans’ health. Nevada hospitals are the frontline of this pandemic. Hospital capacity is critical for providers to treat this fast-spreading virus.”

The bill is expected to pass and become law easily, although Brian Gibson, Governor Steve Sisolak’s interim general council, noted that it could easily fall apart if the various interests around the bill get too keen on amending it with what they want.