Posts Tagged ‘Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs’

Nevada Supreme Court Hears Margins Tax Case

By Sean Whaley | 11:37 am December 5th, 2012

Attorneys for the teachers association and state business interests faced off before the Nevada Supreme Court today over whether a proposed margins tax initiative petition has met legal requirements and so should be submitted to the 2013 Legislature.

A Carson City district court judge earlier this year said the petition filed by the Nevada State Education Association to establish a 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year was invalid because the 200 word “description of effect” was incomplete. It did not specify how much revenue the tax would generate, said Judge James Wilson in a ruling in October.

A group called The Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs challenged the petition. The teachers association appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in the dispute today. The court, which met in Las Vegas, will rule later on the matter.

Nevada Supreme Court.

Despite the lower court ruling, the association last month turned in 152,000 signatures, more than double the required number to qualify the petition for consideration by the Legislature.

If the petition is found by the court to have satisfied state legal requirements, the Nevada Legislature will be required to take up the proposal when it convenes in February. The Legislature would then have 40 days to approve the proposal or it would go to the voters in 2014.

The proposed Texas-style margins tax would raise an estimated $800 million a year for public education.

Justice Ron Parraguirre asked whether it is a material effect that a business could face a loss and still be required to pay the tax.

“Isn’t that a material effect that ought to be disclosed?” he said.

Francis Flaherty, attorney for the teachers, told the court the backers of the measure should not be subjected to a “judicial slot machine” where decisions on what to include in the description are subjected to second guessing by the judiciary.

“You’ve only got 200 words,” he said.

Flaherty called the petition “core political speech” that the Supreme Court has said in previous rulings it must do “everything in its power to uphold.”

Justice Michael Douglas asked attorney Josh Hicks, representing The Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, how the court is expected to pick and chose what to include in the description given the complexity of the proposal, which totals 22,000 words.

Hicks said the 200-word description could very easily be written to be accurate for those asked to sign the petition. He said an accurate description is a fundamental protection to ensure potential signers of the petition know what the measure would do. There is no guarantee that the tax proposal will generate any additional money for public education, which is a material fact that should have been disclosed, he told the court.

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Audio clips:

Attorney Francis Flaherty says the description of effect satisfies state law:

120512Flaherty :14 got 200 words.”

Attorney Josh Hicks says there are no guarantees the proposal will increase education funding:

120512Hicks :23 change in it.”

 

 

 

Carson Judge Invalidates Teacher-Backed Margin Tax Petition

By Sean Whaley | 9:56 am October 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A Carson City District Judge today ruled an initiative petition being circulated by teachers to levy a 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year to raise money to support public education is invalid.

The Nevada State Education Association said it will appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court and will continue to collect signatures to qualify the measure.

In his ruling, Judge James Wilson found that the description of effect used to explain to voters the intent of the petition is incomplete.

The validity of the petition was challenged by a group of Nevada business groups called the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson.

“The Committee (to Protect Nevada Jobs) argues the description needs to tell those being asked to sign the petition how much revenue the tax will generate,” Wilson said. “The court agrees the amount of revenue is an effect that those being asked to sign the petition should know.

“Failure to inform those being asked to sign the petition is a failure to explain a material ramification of the initiative,” he said. “The amount of revenue the tax will probably generate must be included in the description. Failure to include the probable amount invalidates the petition.”

The judge also cited several other aspects of the description of effect as misleading, including the fact that millions of dollars of the tax would be directly sent to the Department of Taxation to cover the costs of administering the tax. Additionally, the description of effect does not specify that the tax would also be levied against businesses that are operating at a loss. The judge noted that such an effect would be a major impact of the petition and should have been specified in the description.

John La Gatta, chairman of the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, said in response to the ruling: “This petition, which should have been called the Margin Tax Petition, would have greatly harmed business and jobs in our state and not helped our education system at all. Imposition of this tax would greatly harm economic development. We are delighted with this ruling.”

Josh Hicks, attorney for the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, said he was not surprised by the ruling.

“We knew that the description of effect was deeply flawed and misleading,” he said. “This is a victory for all Nevadans and should send a strong message that the courts will not allow such deceptions against the public.”

In a statement, the teachers association questioned how Wilson could find the description proper in an earlier ruling in August, but find the same wording flawed in today’s ruling.

“While NSEA anticipated and planned for legal challenges, we also expected consistency in the court’s rulings,” the statement said. “The description of effect, the 200-word summary of the petition, was declared as succinct, straightforward, and not misleading in August and has only been changed in non-substantive aspects and in aspects not relevant to today’s ruling. We do not agree with today’s ruling that is at-odds with the court’s prior decision.

“Through all of the recent economic travails, Nevada voters have understood that our path to prosperity needs to include a renewed commitment to education funding and they are demonstrating that understanding by supporting our referendum,” the statement said. “NSEA’s recently finalized report, By the Numbers, shows that an investment in education is an investment in our state’s economic prosperity.”

The association, which has already collected between 55,000 and 60,000 signatures to take the margins tax proposal to the Legislature next year.

The group has until Nov. 13 to collect a minimum of 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.

The proposed Texas-style margins tax would raise an estimated $800 million a year for public education.

Wilson’s ruling prohibits the petition from being submitted to the Legislature next year or to voters in 2014.

 

 

 

 

Carson Judge Will Rule Later On Challenge To Teacher-Backed Margin Tax Petition

By Sean Whaley | 10:59 am October 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A Carson City District Judge today heard the latest challenge to a teacher-backed initiative petition that seeks to levy a 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year to raise money to support public education.

But Judge James Wilson did not immediately rule on challenges to the “Education Initiative” filed by the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson.

Josh Hicks, an attorney representing the committee, said regardless of how Wilson rules, the legal issues raised in the court hearing will likely be taken to the Nevada Supreme Court for a final ruling.

In the meantime, the Nevada State Education Association is continuing to gather signatures to qualify the measure for submission to the Legislature in 2013.

Gary Peck, executive director of the association, said between 55,000 and 60,000 signatures have been collected so far from registered voters to qualify the petition. The group has until Nov. 13 to collect a minimum of 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.

The proposed Texas-style margins tax would raise an estimated $800 million a year for public education.

“We remain confident that at the end of the day, the initiative is going to withstand this legal challenge,” Peck said. “We are certainly going to continue to gather signatures. We have received enthusiastic widespread support from the public.

“We have a study, conducted by Applied Analysis, that shows the costs that would be associated with failing to properly invest in K-12 education here in Nevada,” he said. “And I think the general public understands that if we want to have a thriving diverse economy where we have the kind of high-skilled workforce that we need to attract businesses, we need to be investing in our public schools. And we don’t do that.”

Hicks raised several legal issues during the brief court hearing, challenging whether the petition conforms to requirements that it deal with a single subject and if it offers a clear explanation about what it does. He questioned whether the 200-word description of effect adequately explains to those signing the petition what it would do.

Wilson said he too has concerns about the description of effect.

Francis Flaherty, attorney for the teachers, rejected Hick’s concerns.

“There is nothing hidden in this initiative, your honor,” he said.

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Audio clips:

Teachers Association Executive Director Gary Peck says he is confident the initiative petition will be upheld:

101212Peck1 :21 from the public.”

Peck says the association has a study showing the consequences of not properly investing in public education:

101212Peck2 :30 don’t do that.”

 

Teachers Re-File Margin Tax Initiative Petition With Secretary Of State’s Office

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 8:42 am August 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Nevada State Education Association has re-filed its margin tax initiative petition with the Secretary of State’s office and will now begin collecting signatures in an effort to take the measure to the Legislature in 2013.

The revised petition removed a provision requiring taxpayer information to be posted publicly on the state Department of Taxation’s website after Judge James Wilson ruled Monday its inclusion violated a “single-subject” rule for such measures.

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons.

Gary Peck, executive director of the association, said Monday that the group is confident the revised margin tax proposal will withstand any further legal challenges.

The new petition, filed Tuesday, 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 in 2014 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.

Other challenges to the singe-subject rule raised by the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs were also 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.