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Solar, new scholarship requirement bills now law

CARSON CITY — Bills putting the state Public Utilities Commission in charge of figuring out rates for roof-top solar users and raising credit requirements for Millennium Scholarship recipients were signed into law June 5 by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Sandoval also signed the so-called “Pop-Tart” gun bill to protect young pupils from punishment for simulating or playing with toy weapons.

Senate Bill 374 was a compromise measure intended to ensure that Nevada’s rooftop solar industry continues to grow while protecting utility customers who do not participate in net metering.

Net metering is where utility customers with solar panels get credit on their electricity bills for excess energy they produce and return to the grid. There is currently a 3 percent cap on the amount of net metering allowed in Nevada.

The rooftop solar industry wanted the Legislature to increase the cap, but utility officials argued raising it too high would be unfair to other customers.

Under the law, the Nevada PUC by Dec. 31 will set a separate rate class for rooftop-solar customers to account for the use of the utility’s infrastructure. The intent is to ensure the customers who don’t have rooftop solar do not subsidize those who do.

Sandoval also signed Senate Bill 128, which increases to nine from six the credit hours a community college student must take in a semester to receive the Millennium Scholarship.

The bill also increases to 15 from 12 the maximum number of credits that can be funded by the Millennium Scholarship per semester, per student. The scholarship program awards Nevada students who meet scholastic requirements up to $10,000 for college.

Supporters of the bill said students who take more credits per semester are more likely to finish school and graduate on time.

Another bill signed is the co-called “Pop-Tart” gun bill shielding grade-school students from discipline for bringing tiny toy guns to school or nibbling their breakfast pastry into the shape of a weapon.

Tiny toy guns no bigger than 2 inches in length also are protected, as is clothing with images of firearms or expressing support for the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The measure applies to students in kindergarten through eighth grade, though students could still face discipline for disrupting class.

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