2018 Nevada SB131 Steps to Success

Utilizing Nevada’s Success as a Roadmap for Enacting Legislation in Your State

In May of 2017, Nevada’s State Legislature unanimously passed SB 131, a prescription reader bill, proposed by the Nevada Council of the Blind (NCB) and sponsored by Senator Mo Denis. According to Sen. Denis in a phone interview, the keys to their success included:
having the right legislator to sponsor the bill
working with the opposition to resolve all issues
getting supporters to rally for the bill throughout the legislative process

Sen. Denis’ long history of working for disability rights, his strong network of contacts, and positive relationships with the lobby groups, made him the perfect bill sponsor. Denis worked with the NCB and the bill drafters to write and present SB 131 in the Nevada Senate; worked out all of the issues the opposition had at the introduction of the bill; and worked to rewrite the bill to satisfy all sides as much as possible. Once the lobbyists were on board, the bill passed unopposed.

While Sen. Denis worked with the legislators and lobbyists, the NCB, headed by President Rick Kuhlmey, worked to build a network of support for the bill.

Each time a vote was to be taken by the Nevada State Legislature regarding SB 131, support was rallied by alerting all organizations and individuals in the support network. NCB’s President Rick Kuhlmey estimated over 3,000 people were alerted every time. Supporters also spoke at SB 131 meetings, and testified for talking prescription readers, providing real-life examples of how important the product was for the safety and quality of their lives.

The NCB’s strong support network and Sen. Denis’ diligent work with legislators and lobbyists helped pass SB 131 through the Nevada State Legislature and it became law in January 2018.

Use Nevada’s success to achieve your goal! The sample strategic plan in this guide can help your group organize an initiative to rally and successfully persuade your state legislature to pass a law requiring pharmacies to provide equal access to the printed prescription labels.


Find the Right Legislator to Sponsor the Bill
Identify and Work Out Opposition
Provide Supporters to Rally for the Bill 

Strategy - Find the right legislator to sponsor the bill

The ideal representative is someone who is compassionate for people who are blind, visually and print impaired; has strong relationships with the right groups; has the trust of the potential opposition 

Learn about the legislative process in your state
Become familiar with senators and their staff, the different legislative committees (who handles what type of legislation,) and how to get in touch with them 
Contact Senator Mo Denis and ask for recommendations and contacts for your state
Recommended action items:
Learn how a bill becomes law in your state
Learn how to track bills
Learn who the key legislators are, their schedules and what committees they serve on
Get to know the legislature’s “Constituent Services” as they are an amazing source of information  
Meet legislators and get to know them; ask them to back your bill and even co-sponsor it if possible
The legislator who introduces the bill can tell you which committee the bill will be sent to
Get to know the members of that committee; make appointments to talk with them
Focus on the committee members because if the committee gives the bill a “Do Pass,” the rest of the legislators will generally follow
Strategy - Identify and Work Out Opposition

Getting the lobby groups on board

Identify and work out the issues of those opposing the bill, rewrite the bill to satisfy all sides 

Recommended action items:
Get to know the key players in your State Board of Pharmacy and Retailers Association; ask for their support (which may have to be un-official if they are state employees)
Research other organizations that are tasked with providing input to legislators; ask them to assist you to pass your bill (example: a “Silver-haired Legislative Forum” Your Legislator or Constituent Services can help with this)

Strategy - Provide Supporters to Rally for the Bill 

Engage the community

Build a group of supporters to rally behind the bill
Recommended action items:
Contact organizations who will rally their members: Such as Lions, Masons, Kiwanis, Veterans groups, disability organizations, etc. and individuals including family members 
Never ask an organization for their list of members – instead ask if they will send their members a message you have prepared. 
Find people who are blind and low vision, recruit them.
Keep good notes of all contact made   
Provide key talking points so message is consistent
Have them testify at legislative sessions

Engage the Media

Publicize your cause through media outlets

Recommended action items:
Google local media outlets to send news story ideas, press releases and public service announcements (PSAs)
Create list of TV stations, radio stations and newspapers. 
Call each station and request e-mail address for sending story idea, news release, and/or a PSA (Google each for instructions on how to write a particular format.)
Create and send news releases and PSAs to the radio station list with bill information, with specific call to action, for example: “Support this bill by calling your legislator at ###-####.” 
After the bill passes, use media list to send follow up messages about the new law and the availability of prescription readers
If you do not have anyone in organization who can make the PSA’s call companies that do and request they make them as a donation to your 501 c 3 organization

Engage Local Businesses

Build a powerful support group made up of many people

Recommended action items:
Ask business owners, their employees and their paid lobbyists for their support in the legislature: Pharmacies, Pharmaceutical Supply Companies, Insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, assisted living facilities, doctors groups, other lobbyists


Stay Organized
Have files and folders for everything
Keep a record of who, what, why and when and the outcome of conversations

Educate your Supporters
Ensure they know the talking points and the importance of being consistent 
Be courteous, patient, never get ‘pushy’
Do not take rejection of your message or rudeness personally 

Create handouts 
Plain, simple, quick and easy to read
Hand out or send to everyone you contact

You’ll have expenses; ask for donations; track everything

After the bill passes
Regulations will need to be written, stay in touch with legislators to assist
You must be involved or a person unfamiliar with the needs of the visually impaired may write regulations that effectively kill your bill 

AFB.org and ACB.org is loaded with information
Request a history of the legal actions trying to implement the use of prescription readers from En-vision America   
We could not find any real numbers of the frequency of the problems caused by medication errors, no one seems to track these deaths

We quickly learned that talking about ADA rights or federal legislation giving “free and equal access” to the blind turned off state legislators. So we concentrated on the need for the devices so that people who are visually and print impaired could independently manage their prescription medications. The argument was sufficient, so we did not have to make this a “rights” issue. The legislators appreciated our focusing on the issue that people needed the readers to stay safe and live independently.

Testifying for the Bill
Selected persons spoke at legislative committee hearings in favor of SB 131.  Senator Denis spoke first, followed by the demonstration of the reader. The president of the community organization which requested the bill spoke for about three minutes to enhance and wrap up what had been said and to formally request a “Do Pass” vote from the committee, and to thank them for their time and hard work. We arranged for the chair of a legislative citizens group to speak briefly in favor of SB 131.  We kept it short and to the point, as our work prior to the hearing had already acquainted the committee with the facts. 

Language of the bill
Nevada’s SB 131 does say the pharmacies must provide the prescription reader.  However, federal laws allow the pharmacy to opt out by simply saying it is too expensive to do so.  We emphasize that every pharmacy must tell every person that prescription readers are available and how to get one even if they do not provide them.

A key point when enlisting support is to remind people that many blind people do not go to get their own prescriptions; it is a family member or other care giver who gets them for the blind person. This is a very key point to be made over and over, as sighted people do not think of it.

Keep the bill simple. Please use ours as an example.

Talking with Pharmacies
The owners of the pharmacies or drugstores are the biggest hurdle, as they do not want to spend the money to provide accessible prescription labels. If pharmacists do not want to work with you, ask them to re-read their code of ethics and the oath they take.  Google these so you have them and read them.  

Remind them the federal laws all state they can ‘opt out’ and simply tell everyone they will not participate.  This is legal and allowed.  However, with SB 131 as law, in Nevada they still must tell every customer the prescription readers are available and how to get one. That means they must refer customers to another pharmacy.

Remind them this is where competition begins and the persons who need the prescription readers will go to the pharmacies who have them. It is a matter of life and death. Also remind them that the disabled and senior citizens who need prescription readers are their best customers.


Below is a chronological history of passage of SB 131 (from the Nevada Legislature website.)

Feb 13, 2017
Read first time. Referred to Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy. To printer.

Feb 14, 2017
From printer. To committee.

Apr 21, 2017
From committee: Amend, and do pass as amended.
Placed on Second Reading File.
Read second time. Amended. (Amend. No. 577.) To printer.

Apr 24, 2017
From printer. To engrossment. Engrossed. First reprint .
Read third time. Passed, as amended. Title approved, as amended. (Yeas: 21, Nays: None.) To Assembly.

Apr 25, 2017
In Assembly.
Read first time. Referred to Committee on Health and Human Services. To committee.

May 11, 2017
From committee: Do pass.

May 15, 2017
Read second time.

May 16, 2017
Read third time. Passed. Title approved. (Yeas: 41, Nays: None, Excused: 1.) To Senate.

May 17, 2017
In Senate. To enrollment.

May 18, 2017
Enrolled and delivered to Governor.

May 24, 2017
Approved by the Governor. Chapter 112.

Effective January 1, 2018.


Senate Bill (SB) 131 as passed:

AN ACT relating to pharmacies; requiring each retail community pharmacy in this State to provide a prescription reader upon the request of a person to whom a drug is dispensed or advice on obtaining a prescription reader; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.

Legislative Counsel’s Digest:
Existing law requires prescriptions to be dispensed in a container to which is affixed a label or other device that contains certain information unless otherwise specified by the prescribing practitioner. (NRS 639.2801) This bill requires a retail community pharmacy that dispenses a drug to: (1) notify the person to whom the drug is dispensed of the availability of a prescription reader; and (2) upon request, provide to the person to whom the drug is dispensed a prescription reader or directions or advice on obtaining a prescription reader.


Section 1. Chapter 639 of NRS is hereby amended by adding thereto a new section to read as follows:

1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, a retail community pharmacy shall notify each person to whom a drug is dispensed that a prescription reader is available to the person. The retail community pharmacy shall, upon the request of a person to whom a drug is dispensed:

(a) Provide a prescription reader to the person to whom the drug is dispensed to use for at least the duration of the prescription and attach to the container of the drug a label or other device that is capable of conveying the information prescribed in NRS 639.2801 to a person using the prescription reader; or

(b) Provide directions or advice to the person on obtaining a prescription reader appropriate to his or her visual or print impairment.

2. The requirements of subsection 1 do not apply if:

(a) The drug is not dispensed in a container to which is affixed a label or other device pursuant to NRS 639.2801; or

(b) The drug is dispensed through the mail.

3. As used in this section:

(a) “Prescription reader” means a device designed to convey audibly the information contained on the label or other device affixed to the container of a prescription drug to a person who is visually impaired or otherwise would have difficulty reading the label.

(b) “Retail community pharmacy” means a pharmacy that is licensed by the Board and dispenses drugs directly to the general public at retail prices. The term does not include:

(1) A pharmacy that dispenses prescription medications to patients solely through the mail;

(2) A nonprofit pharmacy designated by the Board pursuant to NRS 639.2676;

(3) An institutional pharmacy;

(4) A pharmacy in a correctional institution; or

(5) A pharmacy operated by a governmental entity.

Sec. 2. This act becomes effective on January 1, 2018.



This legislation ensures the safety and well-being of a growing number of Americans.

Enables independence to a group of people who already largely depend on others and gives caregivers some relief.

Many elderly and disabled people are no longer able to read the small print on a prescription label.  A talking prescription reader gives them a way to safely and independently manage their medications.
Quality of life is better as people have the confidence they can take the right medicine.

Saves a lot of calls to the pharmacy trying to figure out which pill is which and how many must be taken.

Enables timely contacting of doctor for renewals when customer needs a new prescription.

Saves money as prescription reader users do not have to be treated for taking incorrect medicines and incorrect amounts.

Reduces fear and depression caused by not knowing for sure that they are taking prescriptions correctly.  

Have not found one person against it - most relate stories of loved ones or friends who struggle to take the right medicines every morning and night.
How much do prescription readers cost? A whole lot less than a trip to the emergency room or a hospital stay or a funeral.

Talking prescription readers save lives.
For more information, contact: Rick Kuhlmey, President, Nevada Council of the Blind:   phone 702-383-0600   email rickthepolak@embarqmail.com