CARSON CITY –A spokesman for the Nevada State Education Association said the group will re-file its margin tax initiative proposal by the end of the week after removing one section found in violation of petition rules today by a Carson City district judge.
Gary Peck, executive director of the association, said the provision requiring taxpayer information to be posted publicly on the state Department of Taxation’s website will be eliminated from the petition after Judge James Wilson today ruled its inclusion violated a “single-subject” rule for such measures.
The petition will then be re-filed with the Secretary of State’s office and the signature collection effort will begin, he said.
“We are heartened by the judge’s ruling,” Peck said. “He threw out one provision in the entire initiative. We intend to remove that provision and re-file the initiative by the end of this week.
“We remain confident that, when the dust settles, the re-filed initiative will withstand any further legal challenges,” he said. “We will gather sufficient signatures to qualify it and the Legislature or the people of Nevada will enact the margins tax.”
The public understands the need for a stable, dedicated source of funding that will allow for adequate investments in, “our woefully underfunded K-12 system,” Peck said.
Josh Hicks, the attorney representing the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, said in a statement: “The committee will closely review any newly filed margin tax petition. If a new petition is still a massive tax increase on Nevadans disguised as an increase in education funding, the committee will file a new lawsuit.”
Wilson found fault with the existing petition because it proposed both the margin tax and a requirement for certain taxpayer information to be made public as part of the measure. He enjoined the Secretary of State’s office from submitting the petition to the Legislature in 2013 or to the general election ballot in 2014.
But the ruling does not preclude the re-filing of the initiative, minus the offending provision, by the teachers association.
The petition, filed in June, seeks to levy a 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year. The association was waiting until Wilson’s ruling before circulating petitions to gather the necessary signatures to take the measure to the Legislature next year, and then to the voters if lawmakers failed to act.
The petition was challenged in court by the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, which argued it violated the single-subject rule. The committee also argued the 200 word description of effect of the proposal was inadequate.
Wilson ruled the description of effect was proper and rejected the committee’s arguments.
But because the petition also sought to have information identifying the companies paying the margin tax and the amount they paid published on a website by the Department of Taxation for the public to review, it improperly encompassed two subjects, he said.
“Imposing a tax to support Nevada schools and changing current tax law to make certain tax record information public are not functionally related and germane to each other in a way that provides sufficient notice of the general subject of, and the interests likely to be affect by, the proposed initiative,” Wilson said in his decision.
Other challenges to the singe-subject rule raised by the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs were rejected by Wilson.
Teachers are seeking the new tax to bring in as much as $800 million a year for public education.
The group has until Nov. 13 to collect can collect 72,352 signatures to take the measure to lawmakers. The Legislature would then have 40 days to approve the proposal or it would go to the voters in 2014.
Gary Peck, executive director of the teachers association says the initiative petition, with the one section removed, will be re-filed by Friday:
Peck says the revised petition will survive any further legal challenges: