Posts Tagged ‘fee’

State Lawmaker To Take Aim Again At Fast-Food Sales In Effort To Combat Obesity

By Sean Whaley | 3:16 pm July 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, said today he will try again with a bill in the 2013 session to impose a fee on some items sold at fast-food restaurants in an effort to help combat the national obesity epidemic.

Munford’s proposal, which he said may be expanded to include “junk food” type items sold in other food establishments as well, is one of 144 bill draft requests listed on the Nevada Legislature’s website.

Photo by Aspen04 via Wikimedia Commons.

Munford said his idea is to increase the cost of fast-food items in an effort to get people to choose healthier foods. Money raised from the fee would be directed at programs to combat obesity, he said.

“Not that we were going to deny anybody the opportunity to purchase those things,” he said. “But we just want to put a little tax on it just to make them conscious that it would be a little more expensive than it normally would be.”

The fee might act as a deterrent and get parents to think twice before opting to buy less healthy fast-food items, Munford said.

Munford said he will work with legislative legal staff to refine his proposal and define clearly which items would be subject to the fee.

He introduced similar legislation in the 2011 session, but Assembly Bill 399 did not get a hearing. That bill imposed a five cent fee on fast-food items that contained 500 calories or more.

Munford said a proposal by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of large-size sugary sodas in the city because of concerns about obesity has helped convince him to try again with his bill.

Nevada would not be the first state to consider a “fat tax”. A California lawmaker in 2011 proposed a penny-an-ounce tax on soda pop and other sweetened drinks. The bill did not pass.

The Nevada State Health Division issued a report in 2010 indicating that statewide, 18 percent of 4th, 7th and 10th graders are overweight and 20 percent are obese.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent, or 12.5 million children aged 2 to 19 are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.


Audio clip:

Assemblyman Harvey Munford says he wants a fee charged on unhealthy fast-food items in an effort to deter obesity:

070212Munford :14 normally would be.”



Low-Cost Auto Insurance Bill Gets Rough Treatment In Senate Hearing

By Sean Whaley | 5:30 pm May 6th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A bill that would charge most Nevada drivers a fee to subsidize a low-cost auto insurance pilot program for eligible residents of Clark County ran into some rough questioning today at a Senate hearing.

The bill, sought by Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, was the subject of some serious vote trading to get the two-thirds support required to move it out of the Assembly last month.

The bill required a two-thirds vote because it would impose a 50-cent fee per insured vehicle per year to establish a lower-cost auto insurance policy for low-income Clark County residents who are having trouble paying for a regular policy.

In testifying for Assembly Bill 299 in the Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee, Atkinson said the intent of the program is to provide a way to reduce the number of uninsured drivers in Nevada, a number put at 19 percent by the Nevada Sage Commission in a 2010 report.

“I’ve heard first hand that too many low-income drivers remain uninsured because the cost of standard insurance premiums are beyond their financial reach,” he said. “Walking my district this past summer, my constituents told me that they are having a difficult time paying for insurance even when they are great drivers with no driving convictions on their records.”

Atkinson said his proposal is modeled on a similar program in California that has extended auto coverage to thousands of motorists.

The program, which would be administered by the Nevada Division of Insurance, would lower the cost of an insurance premium by about $184 a year, he said.

There are a number of requirements individuals would have to meet to be eligible for the program, including having good driving records as defined in the bill, Atkinson said.

But Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the bill would create a process of wealth distribution, which he would oppose. The eligibility criteria for the low-cost insurance at 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines also suggests that huge numbers of Clark County residents could participate, he said.

“To say you can’t afford car insurance, and that everyone else should pay so you don’t have to, I mean what we’re talking about is wealth redistribution,” Roberson said. “Maybe some are OK with that but I’m not.”

Jim DeGraffenreid, representing the Nevada Republican Party, said the California program the proposal is modeled after has not been successful. The California program insured fewer than 50,000 drivers out of an estimated 3.5 million uninsured drivers, he said.

DeGraffenreid also said it would cost $800,000 to expand the bureaucracy of the Division of Insurance to administer the program, a figure Atkinson said was not correct.

DeGraffenreid’s comments prompted Roberson to ask why Nevada would want to emulate a failed California program.

Joe Guild, a lobbyist representing the State Farm Insurance Co., said the company estimates the policy would save only about $50 a year. Because the low-cost policy would provide only $3,000 worth of property damage coverage instead of the $10,000 provided for in regular policies, it could also cost the low-cost participants more out-of-pocket if there was an accident, he said.

Guild said State Farm is not opposed to the proposal, however.

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) submitted a letter in opposition to the bill, saying the program “is unlikely to do anything other than create a new state bureaucracy for taxpayers and insurance consumers to fund.”

The letter went on to ask, “. . . when one considers the very low participation rate in the California Low Cost Auto Program, one needs to question why Nevada taxpayers and insurance consumers should be assess a 50 cents per passenger vehicle fee to fund a program that hasn’t been even remotely successful in a neighboring state?”

A number of other individuals testified in opposition as well.

The bill did see some support from Jan Gilbert, representing the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, who said the pilot program should be given a chance. The savings, while modest to some, could help families who are finding it tough to make ends meet, she said.

After listening to the opposition testimony, Atkinson said he was surprised by the comments. None of the people testifying against the bill made an appearance when it was heard in the Assembly, he said.

Drivers will pay for those who choose to drive without insurance one way or another, and the low-cost program is the better alternative, Atkinson said.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Audio clips:

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson says he proposed the low-cost auto insurance plan to help those with financial difficulties in the economic downturn:

050611Atkinson :20 on their records.”

Sen. Michael Roberson questions why some drivers should be required to subsidize insurance for others:

050611Roberson :15 that, I’m not.”


Freshman Lawmaker Thinks Twice, Guts Own Bill

By Andrew Doughman | 8:03 am March 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Lobbyists, legislators and journalists expected to hear about a bill that would increase energy bills for Nevadans when they arrived at a legislative hearing.

Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno, sat down before the committee, ready to present his bill that would levy a fee on anyone paying an electric bill. That fee would help new businesses pay their energy bills. He designed the bill to attract manufacturing businesses to Nevada with reduced energy costs.

But when he addressed the committee, he did so with Democratic lawmaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick of North Las Vegas, who was not listed as a sponsor.

Something was not right.

The two legislators then introduced a “conceptual amendment” to the bill that struck all provisions about ratepayers. Residents and businesses were off the hook. They did not mention any new fee in their amendment.

Kirner, a retired business executive, later said he had wanted to find an incentive to attract manufacturing businesses to Nevada. But when he received the language of his bill, he kept looking at the fee.

“I didn’t feel good about that because that puts on citizens a fee,” Kirner said. “I was never comfortable with that.”

So he tapped his Democratic colleague for her knowledge of energy-related policy.

The bill they concocted would give new manufacturing businesses a one-year property tax break of 35 percent in exchange for manufacturers retrofitting old buildings to LEED energy efficiency standards.

Ideally, the bill would provide short-term construction jobs, fill vacancies of old buildings and bring new manufacturing jobs to the state. The business would also benefit from reduced energy bills after completing the retrofits.

If this sounds nothing like assessing a fee on ratepayers to pay the energy bills of new manufacturing businesses, that is because it is not.

The amendment sweeps most sections of the original bill.

It retains a requirement that a new manufacturing business would have to employ at least 25 Nevadans in order to benefit from the tax break.

Since the committee heard nothing more than Kirner and Kirkpatrick’s testimony, the chairman of the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee held the bill for further review.

Assembly GOP Leader Says Bank Fee in Budget a Tradeoff, Concerned About Last Minute Jobs Bill

By Sean Whaley | 5:44 pm March 1st, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert said in an interview today that GOP agreement to include a new fee on banks in the final budget deal approved by the Legislature early today was in exchange for support for keeping Nevada State Prison open.

Gov. Jim Gibbons had proposed to close the aging facility as part of his budget cuts, but the move was opposed by many lawmakers because it would mean the layoff of 136 state employees and cause further economic problems for the capital city. Public safety was also cited as a concern.

“In the end it was somewhat of a trade for Nevada State Prison to tell you the truth,” Gansert said on the television program Nevada NewsMakers. “Nevada State Prison has been in limbo for quite some time. We can’t seem to figure out whether to close it or not.”

Closing the prison would also have resulted in maximum capacities at other Nevada correctional facilities as inmates were relocated, potentially creating the need to build a new expensive prison to handle inmate population growth, she said.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, proposed the new banking fee that ultimately was part of the budget agreement. The new fee will create a foreclosure mediation program for small businesses. The fee was originally proposed at $500 per notice of default, but ended up at $200. It will raise about $13.8 million.

The savings from closing the prison was about the same amount of money: $13 million, so the bank fee was included as an offset, Gansert said.

“It’s a tough choice; it’s not something that any of us supported,” she said of the bank fee. “But in the end we felt that we needed to relive some of the uncertainty and give us some more time on the state prison.”

Ultimately six of the 14 GOP Assembly members, including Gansert, voted for the bill to balance the state budget, including the new bank fee. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature and is expected to be signed by Gibbons, who helped craft the budget agreement.

Gansert called the new fees in the bill “a pittance” compared to the budget cuts and other maneuvers, such as sweeping various agency bank accounts, used to balance the budget and erase an $800 million-plus shortfall.

In the interview, Gansert also expressed concerns about a last-minute measure approved by the Legislature to create road construction jobs. Senate Bill 6 passed both houses of the Legislature in the final hours of the six-day session. It will use existing taxes, including a one-eighth of a cent sales tax in Clark County, to finance a bonding program for road construction.

“That bill was a very last-minute bill,” she said. “I know we had a mixed vote out of the Assembly. My concern was there was no check on it. It became an evergreen for a sales tax and an evergreen for some other taxes.”

Gibbons amended the special session proclamation to allow for consideration of the proposal, which was crafted by Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas.

Gansert and four other Assembly Republicans opposed the measure. It received unanimous support in the Senate.

Gansert called the proposal “very unusual” in that no other approvals were required to go forward with issuing the bonds.

“Typically with anything related to bonding, you either have a time frame or a cap — and both of those were gone,” she said.

Gansert said another objection was to a provision giving the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles the authority to raise its own agency fees. The Legislature has not previously given the agency the ability to change its fees through regulation, she said.

Special Session: 6:43 p.m.

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:43 pm February 28th, 2010

All right, Dear Readers!  Just in from the front steps of the legislative building where the governor and legislative leadership held a press conference, the gist of which was “we all pulled together as a team.”  Means they really, Really have a deal now, and we’ll see the bill hit the two floors tonight.

A legislative leader told me after the presser that they will cut and paste all the piecemeal stuff into an omnibus bill so…yes, it seems, this will be done tonight.

Sean Whaley will post a sum-up with quotes from the press conference and details of the bill on the front page (and all the other major newspapers will do a full write-up), so I’ll just share some interesting snippets:

– The deal includes a new (tiered by size) mining claim fee structure.

– The deficit is now officially $805 million (increased net proceeds revenue and secretary of state fees have reduced it).

– Ralston summed up the unspoken sentiment of the leadership (Gibbons, Raggio, Gansert, Buckley, Horsford) pretty well:  “We used to despise each other and called each other names for a few weeks, but now, for the purposes of this performance in front of the Legislative Building, we are The Five Musketeers — one for all and all for one.

– The governor acknowledged he has received the Race to the Top bill but said he has yet to decide whether to sign it. A split in opinions among his senior staff is causing the waver.  My source told and still tells me:  He will not veto.

– Cuts to state funding for K-12 education will be $116.8 million; cuts to higher ed will be $46 million instead of $76.  Most of the Health and Human Services cuts that had been suggested didn’t happen.  And the Nevada State Prison will remain open.

– A four-day work week for most State offices will be instituted. $10 million will be saved through cutting certain State contracts with outside consultants. No more cuts to pay for State workers. $197 million will be redirected from State funds to needed areas. A tax amnesty program will help the state collect $20 million in unpaid taxes.

– Mining fees and fees on new gaming licenses have been increased, and the fee paid by banks when filing a Notice of Default has been raised from $50 to $100.

– Gibbons, acknowledging he is breaking his no-tax pledge, said a “fee is a tax” when Ralston asked him about the $200 foreclosure fee. But when pressed about signing a bill with a tax, he said he had to accept it as part of the “compromise” and to head off a gaming or sales tax.

And some notes/quotes:

– Gansert:  Biggest disappointment was not getting transparency w/ collective bargaining done.  “We do think it’s critically important.”  She is hopeful they can/will get to this issue next session.  “The taxpayers deserve to know where their money is spent.”  Said she was glad education cuts were reduced to 6.9% by consensus, thinks it was “the right thing to do.”  When I asked her about wrapping the whole bill into one big measure and how that would affect yes/no votes from her caucus, she said “some” Assembly Republicans would be voting “yes” to the plan, some “no.”  Declined to say which would be which.

– Horsford in his office after:  On the super majority requirement:  Gibbons put it to the voters, and they approved it.  Unless there is a change to that, it’s the law:  two-thirds is required not just to pass a tax but to pass a fee. “That is creating quite a limitation particularly when you have a group of legislators saying “no” to everything.”  Said a lot more, but everything else he said was just a recap of prior comments.

Gibbons Seeks Input from State Employees on Ways to Balance Budget

By Sean Whaley | 5:30 pm December 15th, 2009
CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons today asked state employees to weigh in on ways to balance the budget after sending a memo to top agency officials seeking even tougher budget cutting scenarios than those outlined earlier this month.

In the email to state employees, one question posed to state workers by Gibbons reads: “I have pledged to not raise taxes. Should Nevada impose a fee on raw municipal waste to promote recycling, create green jobs and renewable energy, and make Nevada less attractive to those states proposing to send us their waste?”

Gibbons also asks for comment on several other ideas:

  • Are there any budgets that should not be considered for reduction? Why?
  • If we must reduce personnel costs, how should that be done? A percentage pay decrease? Layoffs? More furlough days?
  • Utah has tried a 4/10 work week with good results. Should we consider the same?
  • Are there any state services that should be discontinued or privatized? Why?
  • Is there something we should spend more money on because it would make or save money?
  • What is the biggest waste of money that you see too often?
  • Would you support eliminating full day kindergarten or increasing class sizes to save money?
  • An employed person generates more total state revenue than does the payroll tax collected on each employee. Should we eliminate payroll taxes on new hires to stimulate employment?

In his email, Gibbons said: “We are faced with making some tough decisions very soon. As my co-workers and the people on the ‘front line’ for maintaining essential services, I value your opinions regarding how the state should handle our financial situation.”

The email was sent after state Budget Director Andrew Clinger sent a memo earlier today asking state agencies to, “determine proposed budget reserves in the amount of 6 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent for FY 2010 and FY 2011 and submit them to the Budget Office by the close of business on Tuesday, January 5, 2010.”

Gibbons has already asked for budget cutting scenarios of 1.4 percent and 3 percent from his agency chiefs. Those plans are due today and are being sought because general fund tax revenues so far this year are $53 million below estimates.

In addition, the state Medicaid budget is expected to see a deficit of $55 million by the end of the two-year budget on June 30, 2011, due to unexpected caseload growth.