Archive for February, 2012

New Study Finds Low Tax Burden For Mature Nevada Businesses But Higher Costs For New Firms

By Sean Whaley | 12:11 pm February 29th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada ranks at the top of states for its low overall tax liability paid by mature businesses, but only 38th for new firms due in part to a lack of incentives, according to a new comprehensive study by the Tax Foundation.

The first of its kind 50-state apples-to-apples analysis, released today in a report called “Location Matters,” a comparative analysis of state tax costs on business, could provide guidance to Gov. Brian Sandoval and lawmakers as they seek to diversify Nevada’s economy and grow jobs.

The study looked at Las Vegas and Reno.

Tax Foundation report, "Location Matters."

Nevada continues to lead the nation in unemployment.

The low ranking for Nevada for new firms is due in part to the lack of tax incentives provided to companies seeking to locate here. And despite the lack of a corporate income tax, other taxes and high unemployment insurance rates also contributed to the low ranking, said foundation President Scott Hodge in a telephone conference call announcing the results.

“Not having a corporate income tax is an incentive in and of itself, so that certainly, I think, is one of the most attractive features for Nevada and of course the other states that don’t have a corporate income tax,” he said.

Hodge said he hopes the study, “provides a real guide for legislators, and governors and other state officials, in reviewing their state in looking to find out how they can make it the most competitive possible and really encouraging tax competition across the states. And out of that we hope that better tax policy comes of it.”

The study compared seven types of firms across the states: a corporate headquarters, a research and development firm, retail store, call center, distribution center, capital-intensive manufacturing and labor-intensive manufacturing. It also compared the states based on mature firms and new firms.

Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation.

Some of the highlights for Nevada include:

- Nevada ranks third for the mature retail operation, with a total tax burden nearly 40 percent below the national average. Nevada’s lack of a corporate income tax and low property tax burden are the key factors in this top ranking. However, the state does have the sixth-highest unemployment insurance (UI) tax burden for this firm type.

- The same factors of no income taxes and low property taxes are also key in the state’s fourth place ranking for mature distribution centers and eighth-place rank for corporate headquarters. Once again, these operations are also burdened with very high UI taxes.

- Nevada ranks 11th for both mature capital-intensive and labor-intensive manufacturing. However, the state would have ranked higher for these operations if not for the fact that its high sales tax rate applies to manufacturing equipment.

- The state ranks 46th for new capital-intensive manufacturing with a tax burden 92 percent above the national average. Even without the incentives that most states provide new firms, this operation has a low income tax burden. However, this firm is burdened by some of the highest UI taxes, sales taxes and property taxes, especially the property tax on equipment.

The study found that for new firms, Nebraska and Louisiana ranked first for several of the new business categories.

Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association, said he generally agrees with the information about Nevada contained in the report.

“The UI (unemployment insurance) might be a little off, but it won’t be as our rates will increase and will stay high for years,” he said.

Nevada has borrowed more than $700 million from the federal government to pay jobless claims during the current economic slowdown.

Implementing Sandoval’s jobs plan, including a call to create 50,000 jobs by the end of 2014, will not be easy, Bacon said.

The study was prepared by the Tax Foundation in collaboration with KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm. Tax Foundation economists designed seven model firms, and KPMG modeling experts calculated each firm’s tax bill in each state. The study accounts for all business taxes: corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, capital stock taxes, inventory taxes, and gross receipts taxes.

Hartley Powell with KPMG said the study should be useful for policy makers in all states because it “not only reviews the state tax obligations in all 50 states, but it shows the combined effect of all the major business taxes on seven specific firm types.”

The firm types are those that are highly sought after by states, he said.

“There are considerable differences of tax obligations across the 50 states, there are considerable differences in tax obligations by firm types within each state, and lastly there are large differences in tax obligations between mature and new firms in each state,” Powell said. “And of course, the bottom line is clear: location does matter.”

The Tax Foundation works to provide taxpayers and lawmakers reliable data and sound analysis on public finances at the federal, state, and local levels of government.


Audio clips:

Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge says Nevada’s lack of a corporate income tax is one of the most attractive features of the state:

022912Hodge :14 corporate income tax.”

Hartley Powell with KPMG says the study should be useful to policy makers in all states:

022912Powell2 :22 location does matter.”



Retail Association Survey Shows Nevadans More Optimistic About Economy But Jobs Remain A Concern

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:00 pm February 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Retail Association of Nevada’s (RAN) latest survey, conducted on its behalf by Public Opinion Strategies, shows the number of Nevadans agreeing that the state is going in the right direction tripled from 11 percent in 2010 to 33 percent last week.

For the first time in the two-year history of the survey, more than fifty-percent of respondents feel that the worst of Nevada’s difficult times are over.

RAN President Mary Lau said: “Nevadans are feeling more optimistic with fewer bracing for worse economic news. While jobs and the economy remain primary concerns, most (73%) of Nevadans reported that their own economic situation had either improved or stayed the same in the past six months. While people are not feeling totally optimistic, the overwhelming pessimism shown in earlier polls is certainly receding.”

The survey also found that 63 percent of Nevadans approve of Gov. Sandoval’s job performance, a 16 percent increase since February 2011, and most believe that the governor understands the problems they face. Members of the state legislature did not fare as well, with only 38 percent believing that members of the state legislature understand their problems and a majority favor a new person (52%) over the current legislator (32%).

The poll, conducted from February 21-23, used a sample size of 500 likely voters, and has a margin of error of 4.38 percentage points.

The full results of the RAN survey can be accessed here.

Statewide Taxable Sales Up Modest 3.8% In December But Near Double-Digits In Las Vegas

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 6:46 pm February 27th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s taxable sales rose 3.8 percent in December 2011 over December 2010, a modest rise that was outpaced in Clark County which saw a 9.5 percent gain in the important indicator of consumer health.

A major decline in taxable sales in Elko County in December was largely responsible for the overall smaller statewide increase.

Statewide taxable sales totaled $4.2 billion in December, with the biggest increases coming in bars and restaurants, up 8.8 percent; clothing and accessory stores, up 12.9 percent; motor vehicle dealers, up 15.3 percent; and merchant wholesalers-durable goods, up 14.2 percent.

Bar and restaurant sales were up 8.8% in December, 2011. / Photo: Anna Frodesiak courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The December numbers, released by the Nevada Department of Taxation, follow a November taxable sales report that showed a 9.6 percent gain.

Clark County reported taxable sales of just under $3 billion, up from $2.7 billion in December, 2010. Washoe County also had strong results, up 6.1 percent in December 2011 over December 2010.

The overall taxable sales numbers would have been higher except for a big decline in taxable sales in Elko County. Elko taxable sales were down by more than 50 percent in December to $142.5 million compared to $295.6 million in December 2010.

If Elko County taxable sales had remained flat in December 2011 over December 2010, statewide taxable sales would have been up over 7 percent.

Brody Leiser, spokesman for the Department of Taxation, said today that a major pipeline project being built across northern Nevada was the main factor in the Elko drop off in December of 2011. The project had seen major purchases in December 2010 that were not duplicated this past December, he said.

Nevada Political Consultant Warns Against Setting Tax Policy At The Ballot Box

By Sean Whaley | 3:46 pm February 27th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Long-time political consultant and former state lawmaker Pete Ernaut said today that efforts to use the ballot box to set tax policy could handcuff the ability of the governor and Legislature to make critical decisions on the future of the state.

“It should be warning to everybody because this is something that could very rapidly turn into the next iteration of the California ballot, where we have 10, 12, 13 ballot measures on a number of issues and you wake up one day and really you’ve taken the power away from the Legislature or the governor to make any decisions,” he said.

Political consultant Pete Ernaut.

“And that’s really what they’re struggling with in California more than anything else is you have this entire apparatus in the California state Legislature that essentially has the ability to make decisions on about 5 percent or 6 percent of the entire California budget,” Ernaut said in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television show. “If we’re not careful, that’s the way that it will go.”

Ernaut’s comments were in response to a question about the possibility of several tax proposals qualifying for the state ballot in the next few election cycles. Ernaut is president of government and public affairs with R&R Partners.

Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller is pursing two initiative petitions, one to raise the gaming tax rate on the state’s largest casinos, and another to amend the state constitution to permit the tax rate on the mining industry to be increased.

Miller said he is pursing the tax proposals to ensure there are some options on the table for policy makers if state labor and education leaders move forward with a Texas-style margin tax on business to increase funding for education. No such petition has been filed yet with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.

Ernaut acknowledged that there is an undercurrent of frustration regarding Nevada’s current tax policy, with gaming and mining questioning the fairness and balance of the system, and some in the business community in turn concerned they are being pressured by the gaming and mining industries.

Nevada’s improving economy could help defuse the intensity of the tax debate and allow for a more measured, methodical and thoughtful discussion of what the state’s tax structure should look like down the road, “rather than with a pistol to somebody’s forehead, which is what it seems like it’s been,” he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval also spoke out recently in opposition to the tax-related ballot measures, saying those discussions belong in the Legislature.

“I believe initiative petitions are a poor way to set tax policy,” Sandoval said.

But Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, who first mentioned the possibility of a business tax ballot proposal in November 2011, said at the time it is the Legislature’s inability to make tax decisions that has generated the interest in going directly to the voters instead.

Nevada has a two-thirds vote requirement in the Legislature to increase taxes or fees.

“We are looking seriously at this process because the legislative process is an impossible one,” he said. “With the two-thirds requirement in the constitution, what in effect that does – it has the minority control the majority wishes. You cannot solve the problem at the Legislature alone without some help from the people.”


Audio clips:

Long-time political consultant Pete Ernaut warns against setting tax policy at the ballot box:

022712Ernaut1 :23 make any decisions.”

Ernaut says the California Legislature is handcuffed because of the numerous ballot measures approved by voters:

022712Ernaut2 :15 it will go.”

Ernaut says an improving Nevada economy could help lower the intensity level of the tax policy debate:

022712Ernaut3 :19 like it’s been.”


Freshman Reno Assemblyman Randy Kirner Announces Reelection Bid

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:42 pm February 27th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno, today announced he is seeking reelection in District 26.

Under Nevada’s new court-approved redistricting map, the district retains the areas of Incline Village and Crystal Bay at Lake Tahoe and portions of the Washoe Valley, and adds areas of south Reno.

“Our economy and jobs are on the top of everyone’s mind,” Kirner said. “My goal is to introduce and support policies that create pathways to put people back to work. I’m also eager to see continued progress on our educational goals at all levels from kindergarten thru college. I view education as the key to future economic success.”

Kirner was one of only two true freshman legislators to serve on the powerful Ways & Means Committee in the 2011 legislative session. He also served on the Education and Transportation committees.

Kirner said he was successful in passing a jobs bill in the 2011 session as well as several other pieces of legislation. He co-sponsored many of the education reforms and worked with other members of the Ways & Means Committee to support a state budget that reduces spending by $500 million over the biennium, a first in Nevada history.

Kirner is a retired executive from International Game Technology and has a doctorate in organizational leadership.

Kirner currently serves on the Interim Finance Committee and the Interim Retirement and Benefits Committee. Kirner and his wife, Peggy, have been married 45 years and have two children and five grandchildren.

Major Fund-raiser Planned For GOP Congressional Candidate Barbara Cegavske

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:39 pm February 27th, 2012

A   major campaign fund-raiser for state Sen. Barbara Cegavske’s run for the 4th Congressional District seat is being hosted by Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, both R-Nev., on March 9 at the Stirling Club in Las Vegas.

More than 150 influential Nevadans are listed as members of the Host Committee for the event.

Cegavske is one of several Republicans seeking the new congressional seat, including Danny Tarkanian. State Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, is also running for the job.

Separation Of Powers Lawsuit Aimed At Nevada Lawmaker Dismissed By District Court, Appeal Planned

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:23 pm February 27th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A Carson City district judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a conservative Nevada think tank claiming that a lawmaker violated the state constitution’s separation of powers clause by also working as a public employee.

The lawsuit was dismissed because the lawmaker targeted in the case by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, left his job with the state Public Utilities Commission last year. He now works in the private sector.

Joseph Becker, chief legal officer and director of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, said the decision will be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

In dismissing the case, District Judge James Todd Russell said in a brief order filed Friday: “The Nevada Supreme Court has clearly held that it is, ‘Of course, the duty of every judicial tribunal is to decide actual controversies by a judgment which can be carried into effect, and not to give opinions upon moot questions or abstract propositions or to declare principles of law which cannot affect the matter in issue before it.”

The order was first reported today by Las Vegas Sun political columnist Jon Ralston.

NPRI had asked the court to proceed with the case even with Denis’ departure from state service, arguing the matter should continue as a matter of “widespread importance.”

In announcing the intent to appeal, Becker said: “The separation-of-powers clause in Nevada’s constitution is perfectly clear — a sitting state legislator is not allowed to exercise any functions in the executive or judicial branch of state government. This principle is foundational to Nevada’s government, and that’s why we strongly oppose the court’s decision to dismiss Pojunis v. State of Nevada, et al.

“Although Sen. Mo Denis resigned from his executive-branch employment within hours of being served with CJCL’s lawsuit — a de facto admission on the merits of the case — it is hard to imagine a case that better satisfies the ‘Public Interest’ exception to the mootness doctrine than this one,” he said.


Looking Back: Bill Raggio With George Romney

By Sean Whaley | 4:55 pm February 24th, 2012

In this file photo provided by the Las Vegas News Bureau, the late Nevada state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and George Romney pose together during a Raggio rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Aug. 27, 1970.

Raggio was running for U.S. Senate at the time. He lost to incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Howard Cannon.

Romney, the father of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was Housing and Urban Development secretary at the time.

George Romney, left, with state Sen. Bill Raggio during his 1970s failed U.S. Senate race. / Photo: Las Vegas News Bureau.

Raggio died Thursday at age 85 while on a trip to Australia with his wife, Dale. / Photo courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau.

Outpouring Of Appreciation And Respect From Nevadans For Legacy Of Late Sen. Bill Raggio

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:12 pm February 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Here is a selection of comments made by Nevada public officials today following the announcement of the death of former state Sen. Bill Raggio:

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Bill Raggio. There are no words to describe his dedication to the state of Nevada and I wish to express my deepest condolences and prayers for his wife Dale, and his family. Bill was a true statesman who dedicated his life to making Nevada a better place to live. His legacy will be remembered for generations to come.”

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid: “He always fought for Nevada and his invaluable contributions and service to our state will live on.”

Former Sen. Bill Raggio. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera: “No one has ever loved this state more or had a more passionate desire to make things better for the people who live here. His ability to bring people together to get things done was legendary. At times, he may have been an adversary on a particular issue, but he was always a true leader, a teacher and a friend.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki: “He was a remarkable man, and I am honored to have been able to call him a mentor, a colleague and a friend. Bill was a true public servant and his sole agenda was simply to make Nevada a better place. He has left an unmatched political footprint upon our state, and the citizens will reap the rewards of this gifted and decent gentleman for many years to come.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley: “I was deeply saddened to learn of Bill Raggio’s passing. He was nothing short of a giant in Nevada politics and a fierce advocate for the state he loved, especially the north. His dedicated public service has improved the lives of thousands of Nevada families and his tireless work on higher education has left a permanent mark on this state.”

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto: “Bill was a great statesman whose political career began when he was elected as the Washoe County district attorney. He was a stellar prosecutor who valiantly protected the citizens of Northern Nevada. Bill will always be remembered for his impassioned service and dedication to the law enforcement community.”

Nevada Republican Party Chairman James Smack: “Today Nevada Republicans across the state mourn the loss of a great leader and the loss of an even greater friend. While it is a sad day for all Nevadans, it is only appropriate to remember the legacy and leadership he left behind for us to follow.”

The Nevada System of Higher Education: “Much will be said in the coming days and weeks about the lifetime of accomplishments of this giant of a man. However, for those of us in higher education, indeed the whole education community, we pause to thank this man who came from humble immigrant roots and rose to great power, in part by public education.”

Andy Matthews, president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute: “Those who have followed NPRI’s work over the years know that we have both agreed and disagreed with Mr. Raggio’s views on various policy issues. But there was never any doubt as to his love for Nevada and his commitment to making it a better place to live. For that, he will always have our respect and our admiration.”

The Nevada Senate Republican Caucus: “Sen. Raggio epitomized the term ‘public servant.’ As a district attorney and legislator, Sen. Raggio was committed to doing the right thing for the people of Nevada. He was a tireless advocate for higher education, believing that it was the gateway to a better life for any Nevadan. He will be missed greatly.”

Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Saitta: “Sen. Raggio was always a friend to the judiciary and often our champion. He clearly understood that a strong Nevada requires a strong and independent judicial branch of government. Sen. Raggio was an icon, a consummate statesman and one of the most knowledgeable and pragmatic legislators ever to serve the people of Nevada.”

Senate Secretary David Byerman:  “Today, the Nevada Senate has lost a paragon of eloquence. We will miss Sen. Raggio, but the Nevada Senate – an institution that Sen. Raggio loved – has been molded by his wit and wisdom forevermore.”

Three Finalists Forwarded To Gov. Sandoval For His Pick For State Schools Chief

By Sean Whaley | 1:42 pm February 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Two Nevadans and a scholar from Texas made the final cut today for the job of state superintendent of public instruction.

René Cantú Jr., Caroline McIntosh and James Guthrie were selected from among five finalists by the state Board of Education to forward to Gov. Brian Sandoval for him to select the new state public schools chief. Sandoval is expected to announce his choice sometime next month.

René Cantú Jr. is currently the executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation and former vice president of multicultural affairs at Nevada State College.

James Guthrie is a senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Unified School District in California.

Caroline McIntosh is the superintendent of schools for the Lyon County School District.

Guthrie was the top finalist, winning favorable votes from all 10 members of the board. Cantú and McIntosh received 8-2 votes.

Sandoval has called the appointment of a new superintendent one of the most important he will make as governor.

James Guthrie.

The five candidates were interviewed by the board on Wednesday and Thursday.

Keith Rheault, Nevada’s current superintendent is retiring in early April.

Sandoval wants a new schools chief on board well ahead of the 2013 legislative session.

As a result of education reform legislation approved by the 2011 Legislature, Sandoval now has the authority to appoint the new schools chief. In the past the 10-member Board of Education had the authority to select the superintendent.

The board today discussed the qualifications and qualities of all five candidates before voting.

Board Vice President Adriana Fralick said of Cantú: “He knows education. He is eager and excited to work. I think of all of them he probably would work harder to prove himself. I like that about him. He may not have as much experience management-wise as some of the others but I think he had a lot of good points.”

Board member Willia Chaney said McIntosh was energetic in her interview and already has a working knowledge of the problems and challenges facing public education in Nevada.

“And I think that she has a strong vision and she has high expectations,” Chaney said. “And I believe that any person who is going to lead the Department of Education has to have high expectations.”

Board member Craig Wilkinson was one of several board members who spoke very highly of Guthrie, saying he would clearly seek out the opinions of others and get to know all of the stakeholders in the education reform effort.

“He was for the students,” Wilkinson said. “I like that. He wasn’t just education. He was for the students and teachers.”


Audio clips:

Board Vice President Adriana Fralick says Cantú knows education:

022412Fralick :26 of good points.”

Board member Willia Chaney says McIntosh was energetic in her interview and already has a working knowledge of the problems and challenges facing public education in Nevada:

022412Chaney :31 have high expectations.”

Board member Craig Wilkinson says Guthrie will seek out the opinions of others:

022412Wilkinson :21 students and teachers.”


Former State Sen. Bill Raggio, Lion Of Nevada Politics, Dead At 85

By Sean Whaley | 9:46 am February 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Bill Raggio, a lion of Nevada politics and the state’s longest-serving state senator, passed away during a trip to Australia on Thursday. He was 85.

Officials from around the state expressed sorrow and sympathy for Raggio’s family when news of the loss of the highly-regarded lawmaker was first reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston early today.

Longtime family friend Greg Ferraro told Ralston: “Officially, Bill Raggio passed away last night at 10pm PST of respiratory illness in Sydney Australia. Funeral arrangements are pending.”

Raggio was traveling with his wife, Dale.

Raggio was first elected to the state Senate in November 1972, serving in 19 regular and 13 special sessions. He resigned in mid-term in January of 2011 citing health issues.

But Raggio had lost his leadership position in the Senate Republican Caucus after the November, 2010 general election. He had rankled some of his fellow Republicans by supporting U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s re-election bid over GOP rival Sharron Angle.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said he will order flags to half-staff on the day of his funeral.

“Sen. Raggio’s career exemplified the very best of public service,” Sandoval said. “His dedication to law and order, higher education, and the fiscal health of this great state spanned literally decades of Nevada history and touched the lives of tens of thousands of Nevadans. I have said before that if there was a Mount Rushmore of Nevada politics, Bill Raggio’s image would forever be carved there.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who served with Raggio in the state Senate, said: “This is the end of an era in Nevada. Bill was an icon of legislative public service and it was a privilege to serve with him in the state Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who helped induct Raggio into the state Senate Hall of Fame in the 2011 legislative session, said: “From his service as a District Attorney to becoming one of the longest serving legislators in Nevada history, Sen. Raggio always put the people of Nevada first. Nevada has truly lost one of its finest statesmen.”

At his hall of fame induction ceremony, Raggio said he never imagined that he would serve 10 terms in the state Senate, but that in retrospect, he realized he spent nearly half of his life in the Legislature.

“As I said we’ve had tough times, and we’ve had some serious issues that we’ve had to deal with,” he said. “And obviously we’ve often disagreed. But in the end I always felt that the final result was in the best interest of the state of Nevada and I was privileged to be a part of that process.”

Raggio said his highest honor was earning his Eagle badge as a Boy Scout, but that his induction in the Senate Hall of Fame, “ranks right up there.”

He was known to work across the aisle with Democrats to resolve contentious issues and bring legislative sessions to an end.

Raggio was highly regarded by lawmakers in both parties. He was also greatly appreciated by the Nevada Capital press corps for his sharp wit and outspoken nature on issues from education reform to tax policy.

His thorough knowledge of the legislative process was also legendary, and he used it to his advantage at every opportunity.

Raggio also had a great sense of humor and enjoyed kidding members of the press corps on a regular basis.

Raggio was known for “borrowing” $20 from colleagues and anyone else he could convince to hand over the cash, particularly lobbyists. Needless to say, the $20 was never returned.

Nevada Mining Association Files Court Challenge To Mining Tax Initiative Petition

By Sean Whaley | 12:04 pm February 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Mining Association has filed a court challenge to the initiative petition filed by Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes that could lead to a tax increase on the industry from 5 percent to 9 percent.

The complaint filed Wednesday in Carson City District Court alleges the petition “provides a legally insufficient and misleading description of effect and creates hidden yet critical conflicts with a number of state and federal constitutional provisions, including contravening the basic requirement that property taxation in Nevada be uniform, equal and based on just valuations.”

The petition to amend the Nevada constitution should be declared invalid, the complaint says.

The petition was filed Jan. 31.

At the time, Vegas businessman Monte Miller, who heads up the group, said his proposal was not a tax increase.

“It simply raises the cap on mining taxes and leaves the issue on whether to raise the tax in the hands of the Nevada Legislature and governor,” he said in a statement.

But the mining association complaint said the petition is misleading to voters.

“Proponents’ assault on fair taxation, without proper information being given to the voters and petition-signers, cannot be sustained and the petition cannot be presented to the people in its current form,” the complaint said. “Furthermore, proponents’ description of effect fails to provide any information regarding the ‘effect’ of the petition necessary to the decision-making process of Nevada voters. The petition fails, therefore, to meet the basic requirements for a constitutional initiative under Nevada Law.”

Maggie McLetchie, attorney for Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes, said the group has not been served yet with the complaint and so she could not comment in any detail.

But she did say the petition is very simple, changing only one number in the mining tax cap from 5 percent to 9 percent.

“I’m not surprised the mining association filed something,” McLetchie said. “But the petition is not misleading. It changes one number. It is straightforward about what it does and does not do.”

The Legislative Counsel Bureau, which provided a financial impact assessment of the proposal, said the effect of the measure, if passed, is unknown because it would only change the constitution to allow for an increase in the tax rate. The Legislature and governor would have to approve any actual change in the tax rate, the statement said.

Miller said he formed Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes to give voters more options on tax policy in a year when the Nevada AFL-CIO has promised to put Nevada’s first business income tax on the ballot.

The Nevada News Bureau reported in November that several Nevada groups were considering a ballot measure to increase taxes for public education.

“If the Texas-style business margins income tax is going to be on the ballot, voters are going to need an alternative,” said Miller. “We are providing voters with a reasonable approach to tax reform.”

New Campaign Launched In Nevada To Combat Human Trafficking

By Sean Whaley | 4:23 pm February 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A new campaign aimed at helping truck drivers and truck stop employees become more aware of how to identify and alert authorities to instances of underage children being forced into acts of prostitution was announced today by two Nevada organizations.

The Nevada Trucking Association and the Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association said the campaign will use materials developed by a national organization, Truckers Against Trafficking, to help truck drivers and truck stop employees combat incidents of human trafficking.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Nevada Trucking Association and its members are sickened by the evils of human trafficking,” said Chief Executive Officer Paul Enos. “Truckers are the eyes and ears of our highways and truck stops, so we are asking truckers to notify the authorities when they see signs of these activities.”

Peter Krueger association executive with the Petroleum Marketers, said: “The Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association is committed to make this effort our top priority for 2012. Our members can make a difference by spotting and reporting underage trafficking at truck stops across Nevada.”

Kendis Paris, national director of Truckers Against Trafficking, said: “Having the support of Nevada truckers and truck stops will prove vital to the work of Truckers Against Trafficking. This means that thousands more will become educated and equipped about the realities of domestic sex trafficking and how they can help end it. When the trucking and truck stop associations take the lead in their state it causes their membership to understand the importance of this issue and get behind it themselves.”

The Nevada Trucking Association will distribute informational DVDs to its member companies to use during training, orientation and safety seminars. Wallet-size cards will also be provided to members with information about how to recognize trafficking and what to do when it is suspected.

The Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association will use its weekly email bulletins, quarterly magazine and website to promote awareness.  It will also make the materials available from Truckers Against Trafficking to its members.

Nevada state Assemblyman John Hambrick. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, who has pursued legislation aimed at strengthening Nevada’s laws against human trafficking, said: “I am very pleased that the Nevada trucking industry and the truck stop owners have entered the war against human trafficking. This scourge must be stopped. All of us have seen the media reports on children as young as eleven being prostituted by men who are making thousands upon thousands of dollars selling the bodies of our children. We now have two allies that can have a direct effective on fighting this war.”

In a telephone interview, Hambrick said there was anecdotal evidence presented at a press conference in Southern Nevada announcing the new campaign that it has been successful in combating the problem.

“I think there will be a new dynamic on fighting this problem,” he said. “Primarily now we’ll have people on the interstates. Many times society always thinks this is downtown, in an urban area, whether it is on the Strip or in Reno. But we always forget that these truckers are going all over the country.

“It’s a team effort,” Hambrick said. “We all have to pull together. Society has to pull together to solve this problem.”

The Department of Justice estimates that currently 100,000 to 300,000 of America’s children are at risk for entering the sex for sale industry each year. Human trafficking is estimated to be the second most lucrative crime in world with annual revenue of $32 billion.


Audio clips:

Assemblyman John Hambrick says the campaign brings a new dynamic to fighting the problem:

022212Hambrick1 :20 over the country.”

Hambrick says everyone has to help fight human trafficking:

022212Hambrick2 :05 solve this problem.”


Rep. Amodei Not Optimistic On Budget Or Deficit Deal, But Sees Chance For Lands Bills In Congress This Year

By Sean Whaley | 2:56 pm February 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said today he is not optimistic that Congress will make any substantive progress on a balanced budget or deficit reduction this year given the focus on the presidential election.

But Amodei, in town on a brief recess, said he is hopeful that progress can be made on Nevada-related public lands bills he is sponsoring as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

The U.S. Senate has gone over 1,000 days without a budget, he said in a brief interview after speaking to the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

“So you ask yourself what will change in the next six months on that side?” he asked. “If history is any indicator probably nothing. Will the House vote on a budget? Yup. So, I don’t know. Being optimistic is probably not something you should be, for the budget.”

Amodei said he is very optimistic about moving his lands bills within the next several months, however.

“We’ve got some good stuff in the hopper that should move, so that’s the way I’m going to approach it,” he said.

One of the measures is the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act, which is jointly being sponsored by Amodei, Rep. Shelley Berkeley, D-Nev., and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

The bill would convey approximately 10,000 acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the City of Yerington for commercial, industrial, recreational and cultural development. The city and Lyon County are seeking to leverage the substantial infrastructure investments being made by Nevada Copper at its nearby Pumpkin Hollow project.

The Pumpkin Hollow project is a new copper mine being developed by Nevada Copper. A ground-breaking ceremony for construction of the mine was held this past weekend.

Amodei is also pursuing a measure along with the rest of the Nevada delegation to create the Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area north of Winnemucca. The proposal has been endorsed by Humboldt County officials and other stakeholders.

He also plans to introduce legislation making it easier to dispose of small pieces of federal land that are adjacent to urban areas to help in economic development.

Amodei said he is grateful for Republican leadership and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., for making room for his appointment to the Natural Resources Committee. Fleischmann stepped down from the committee so Amodei could serve.

Members of the chamber asked about local issues, including the completion of the V&T Railroad and the Carson City bypass, which remains unfinished.

Amodei said there are no more earmarks for such projects, but that a Transportation Bill is being prepared that could potentially provide assistance for the bypass. Supporters of such projects need to identify the opportunities in the federal budget process to pursue funding, he said.

Amodei has been in Congress for just over five months, having been elected to the 2nd Congressional District in a special election in September 2011. Amodei replaced Dean Heller, R-Nev., who was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the vacancy in the Senate created with the resignation of John Ensign.


Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says he is not optimistic about efforts to balance the federal budget this year because of the election:

022212Amodei1 :25 for the budget.”

Amodei says he is hopeful for progress on his lands bills, however:

022212Amodei2 :18 to approach it.”


Las Vegas Physician, Small Business Owner Announces GOP Candidacy For Senate 9

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:01 am February 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A Las Vegas physician and small business owner today announced his GOP candidacy for Senate District 9, a seat formerly held by Republican Elizabeth Halseth, who resigned in mid-term last week for personal reasons.

Vick Gill is a managing partner of CVR Management, a privately held company that owns an ob/gyn practice and a farming operation. At CVR Management Gill employs over 65 workers.

Gill will try to hold on to the seat for state Senate Republicans, who are trying to regain the majority in the 21-member body for the 2013 legislative session. Democrats currently hold an 11-10 advantage.

Gill said he believes that with the current state budget deficit, Nevada needs lawmakers who have lived in the real world and can balance budgets and create jobs the way many small businesses do. One of his first priorities will be to put Nevadans back to work, he said.

“As a small business owner, I know how to create jobs and balance a budget,” Gill said. “We need transparency and accountability. We cannot spend money we do not have on programs that do not work. I will focus on reining in spending and eliminating waste.

“Nevada is hurting; we have the highest unemployment rate in the country, the highest foreclosure rate of any state, and the highest high school drop-out rate in the nation,” he said. “These may be sobering statistics to some, but this is reality for many here in Nevada. I am running for state Senate to bring common sense solutions to these everyday issues.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Gill earned his medical degree from Xavier University School of Medicine.