Posts Tagged ‘court challenge’

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.


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.”


Group Representing Nevada Businesses Files Court Challenge To Teacher-Backed Margin Tax

By Sean Whaley | 10:35 am June 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs filed a lawsuit today against the “Education Initiative” (margin tax Initiative) charging that that the petition’s description of effect is deceptive and incomplete and that it violates the single-subject rule.

The complaint was filed in Carson City District Court.

“From the title on down, the initiative is deeply flawed and misleading,” said Josh Hicks, of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, the attorney for the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs. “The initiative has nothing to do with education and includes many aspects that are not mentioned in the initiative’s description. We believe that as written, this initiative violates Nevada law.”

The complaint notes that the 26-page “Education Initiative” mentions education only once in its description of effect and that it makes no provision for requiring that education funding be increased over current levels by “even a penny.”

The complaint also notes that the petition’s terms allow for a decrease in classroom funding, which would be an “unpleasant surprise” to Nevadans who sign it.

The Nevada State Education Association filed its petition with Secretary of State Ross Miller on June 6. It would levy a 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year.

NSEA President Lynn Warne said at the time the tax would bring in an estimated $800 million a year from large Nevada corporations. She also said the petition is expected to withstand any legal scrutiny.

NSEA President Lynn Warne answered questions about the margin tax proposal when it was filed June 6. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Hicks said the initiative imposes a margin tax on businesses and increases the size of the Nevada Department of Taxation, a multi-million dollar government agency, to administer and audit the new tax.

“The petition’s title and description of effect will confuse Nevada voters and mislead them into signing a petition that does not do what it purports to do and that does do many things that are hidden from view,” he said.

As an example, Hicks noted that the description of effect makes no mention that taxpayer information will be posted on the internet in clear violation of taxpayer privacy rights guaranteed by Nevada law since 1979. In addition, the complaint notes that the description does not mention that even unprofitable and failing businesses that are losing money will still be subject to the tax and that “an increased taxation on failing businesses is certainly not going to improve the unemployment rate.”

“Quite clearly, this initiative is designed solely to increase general tax revenues and to take advantage of citizen’s concerns about education in order to mislead them into signing the petition and, later, into voting for it,” Hicks said. “Nevada law is quite clear in prohibiting such deceptions.”

The Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs is supported by a variety of Nevada organizations including: the Nevada Taxpayers Association; Retail Association of Nevada; Charles Baird; Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce; The First National Bank of Ely; Nevada Farm Bureau Federation; The Chamber; Nevada Manufacturers Association; Nevada Bankers Association; Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association; Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association; National Federation of Independent Business ; Nevada Trucking Association; Financial and Intangible Assets Enterprises of Nevada ; Las Vegas Sands Corporation; Keystone Corporation; and Nevada Chapter, Associated Builders and Contractors.


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.”