Gov. Sisolak signs Senate Bill 4, first-in-the-nation legislation protecting Nevada workers and businesses

CARSON CITY, NV — August 11, 2020

Today, Governor Steve Sisolak, joined virtually by stakeholders and community supporters, signed Senate Bill 4 (SB4), an act relating to public health geared towards worker safety.

“Unprecedented times call for extraordinary measures. This bill isn’t about economic expansion – it's about our State’s economic survival,” Gov Sisolak said. “It’s about acknowledging that Nevada relies heavily on a single industry – the hospitality industry – and in order to make it through this historic storm, we must ensure it survives. But it’s not just about protecting the businesses – it's also about protecting the workers that keep this industry and our economy running. “

Governor Sisolak was joined, virtually, at the signing by Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and President MGM Resorts, and Irma Fernandez, daughter of Adolfo Fernandez, a utility porter and namesake of the bill, who tragically passed after contracting COVID-19.

This bill was driven by the need to protect the lifeblood of Nevada’s economy, both small businesses and hospitality workers. The measure balances the protection of workers and the needs of the business community to stay afloat during the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis.

This legislation does not create an impenetrable shield for those businesses who fail to protect their customers, visitors, and, most importantly the hard working Nevadans who drive our economy. Businesses that act counter to established health and safety protocols will not benefit from the protections provided by this bill.

Additional details on SB4 can be found HERE.

The press conference can be played back in full HERE:

A copy of the Governor’s remarks are as follows:

Good afternoon, thank you for being here today for this virtual bill signing and press conference.

I am joined here by Bill Hornbuckle from MGM, Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Irma Fernandez, the daughter of Adolfo Fernandez, a utility porter on the Strip who passed away from COVID-19. Thank you, Irma for joining us today and for fighting to make sure that your father’s voice is not forgotten.

I want to also thank the legislators - including Nevada State Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro - for all of their hard work and dedication in working to get this bill passed during the 32nd Special Session, which concluded last week.

Senate Bill 4 is first in the nation legislation that will institute important worker protections in the hospitality industry. Protections that were the culmination of months of one-on-one conversations that the Culinary Union has had with workers. Protections that reflect the great work that can be achieved when the industry and workers get together and for the benefit of our entire community comes out of listening to the workers and working with the industry.

There is no doubt that our travel and tourism employees ARE the lifeblood of the Nevada economy. Without them, our resorts are absent of the hospitality component that makes Nevada one of the top tourism destinations in the world and the gold standard in cleanliness

As we begin the process of our economic recovery, these worker protections will help them feel safer at work.

These additional protections send a powerful message to our visitors that they can take advantage of all of the wonderful amenities in our great State, while enjoying from increased health and safety standards to slow the spread of COVID-19.

As we know, no other state in the country is as dependent on the travel and tourism industry as Nevada. Our conventions and the 42 million visitors we welcome each year drive the economic engine, and COVID-19 has created an all-consuming crisis in our State.

We know that when this industry takes a hit, our State takes a hit -- in the form of hundreds of thousands of jobs lost and a state budget shortfall of $1.2 billion. The impacts have been devastating, and workers, businesses and our State are still reeling from this hit.

Our State’s devastating unemployment numbers caused by the pandemic show that the accommodations and food service industry - a measure of our travel and tourism industry - was hit the hardest by far, down 130,000 jobs year over year in April and May.

Recognizing the harm in this, I am so proud that our hospitality industry and hospitality workers came together to help create a safer environment for hospitality workers and to help an industry that Nevada relies on.

We all understand the need to protect these jobs, AND these workers. This does that by making sure our industry employees feel safe and protected at work, while our businesses creating these vital jobs are safe from unwarranted harm.

The visitors who come to Nevada to enjoy our hospitality help drive countless businesses. In turn, those businesses employ hundreds of thousands of Nevadans and generate a large portion of our State’s revenue. And because of that, our State can provide critical services to Nevadans who need it most.

So this bill not only protects Nevadans who work in the industry and those who manage the industry, but it helps Nevada as a whole. That’s why I’m proud to sign this piece of legislation today.

I want to acknowledge all the small businesses that have also been struggling due to COVID-19. This bill protects small businesses from frivolous litigation as long as the businesses are following the State’s directives and the health and safety protocols. I appreciate the support of the Vegas Chamber in these efforts to ensure Nevada’s businesses are protected

And before I sign the bill and turn it over to our other speakers for remarks, I want to be clear, this legislation does not provide total immunity to all businesses under all circumstances - far from it.

Those inevitable bad actors that have ignored - and continue to ignore – our state’s 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.

This legislation does not create an impenetrable shield for those businesses who fail to protect their employees, customers, visitors, and, most importantly, hard working Nevadans.

At this time, I’ll sign the bill.

Now, I’d like to turn it over to Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226. Then we will hear from Bill Hornbuckle from MGM and Irma Fernandez, the daughter of Adolfo Fernandez, a utility porter on the Strip who passed away from COVID-19.