A Nevada Assembly panel has approved a comprehensive anti-bullying measure backed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Lawmakers on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted 13-2 to approve SB504 on Tuesday, with two Republicans voting against it. It now heads to the Assembly floor for approval.
The bill revises the definition of bullying and creates a separate three-person anti-bullying office inside the Nevada Department of Education. It would also strengthen reporting requirements for bullying incidents, and it would create a 24-hour hotline and a website for submitting complaints.
The bill was previously supported by families whose children took their own lives or attempted suicide after persistent bullying. The measure would help institute a culture change around bullying in Nevada schools, said Michon Martin, Sandoval’s general counsel.
“If we’re going to save kids, this is the way we have to do it,” Martin said.
Republican Assemblywoman Robin Titus voted against the measure and said she was concerned with the expanded definition of bullying and the July 1 approval date. “I’m anxious that we’re holding folk’s lives and jobs accountable when it’s a hard thing to define,” she said.
Sandoval’s budget proposes allocating $36 million to hire one school social worker for every 250 students and execute anti-bullying office goals. State Superintendent Dale Erquiaga said that budget request will likely receive a final vote on Thursday.
The measure passed out of the Senate on an 18-1 vote in April.