Posts Tagged ‘Monte Miller’

Business Margin Tax Initiative Petition Filed, Legal Challenge Expected

By Sean Whaley | 12:44 pm June 6th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A business margin tax initiative petition filed with the Secretary of State’s office won’t see signature gathering efforts start right away because a legal challenge to the proposal is expected, a teachers union official said today.

But Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association, who filed the petition to establish the tax that would bring in $800 million a year from large Nevada corporations, said it is expected to withstand any legal scrutiny. The language has been vetted by several attorneys, including association attorney James Penrose, she said.

“We usually go through about a month looking for any kind of legal challenges,” Warne said. “We expect that there will be some coming.”

NSEA President Lynn Warne answers questions about the margin tax proposal filed today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Even with delays due to legal efforts to derail the proposal, there will be no difficulty in collecting more than enough signatures from registered voters by November to put the proposal to the Legislature in 2013, she said. The Legislature has 40 days to approve the proposal or it goes to the voters in 2014.

Called the “Education Initiative”, the actual language implementing the 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year is 32 pages long.

Penrose said the mining industry would be required to pay the tax the same as other businesses. The gaming industry would pay the tax on non-gaming revenue, such as hotel operations.

Warne said a number of groups have expressed interest in joining with the teachers and the AFL-CIO in supporting the measure, which she said will created a broad-based business tax that will ensure public education won’t face further cuts to programs or require teacher layoffs.

While complex, Warne said she expects voters will support the margin tax proposal in 2014 should the Legislature fail to act.

“We believe that they (voters) are looking for a fair, broad-based tax but they are looking for funding for schools, for kids, to make sure Nevada moves off the bottom in per pupil expenditures,” she said.

If the tax proposal is approved by the Legislature in 2013, the liability would begin in 2014 with the first collection due in January 2015. If approved by voters in November 2014, the liability would begin in 2015 with the first collection due in January 2016.

Warne said the proposal relies on the Texas margin tax, and Assembly Bill 582 of the 2011 Nevada legislative session, for its implementation.

If implemented, the tax revenue would flow to the state general fund and not be earmarked for public education, but Warne said the revenue pie would expand and provide more money for the public schools.

“The Legislature will fund education as they deem appropriate,” she said. “There will just be more revenue for them to be able to appropriate to education. We hope they do so properly.”

While the language has just now been filed explaining how the tax would be levied, the proposal has already come in for  criticism from a number of sources.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said he opposes the tax and said tax policy discussions need to be considered by the Legislature, not at the ballot box.

Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller, who earlier this year proposed petitions to raise both the gaming and mining tax, called the margin tax a “destructive, terribly complex tax.” Miller had filed his proposals as a way to offer voters alternatives to a margin tax, which he anticipated would be sought by teachers, He dropped his efforts in April.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute has also criticized the tax. Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director at NPRI, said in a statement issued Tuesday that a margins tax would be a “disaster” for Nevadans.

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Audio clips:

NSEA President Lynn Warne says she believes voters will support the tax if asked to do so:

060612Warne1 :25 per pupil expenditures.”

Warne says the money will go to the general fund but that public education should benefit:

060612Warne2 :09 do so properly.”

Warne says the association will wait at least 30 days to collect signatures because legal challenges are expected:

060612Warne3 :11 are seen through.”

 

Carson City Judge Rejects Gaming Tax Petition, Supporters Say They Will File New Version

By Sean Whaley | 4:06 pm April 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A Carson City District judge today rejected an initiative petition proposing to create a new and higher rate of taxation for Nevada’s largest casinos, finding that the 200 word description of effect of the measure was misleading.

In rejecting the petition, Judge James Todd Russell said he did not believe he had the authority to rewrite the description himself.

Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller, who attended the hearing on his proposed gaming tax hike, said he will file a new proposal with the Secretary of State’s office reflecting Russell’s concerns and begin the signature gathering effort all over again.

The proposed petition was challenged by the Nevada Resort Association, which cited several concerns with the measure, including the use of the term “unrestricted” instead of  “nonrestricted” to identify the affected gaming properties, and the use of the term “gross revenue” instead of “gross gaming revenue.”

Miller, through a group called Nevadans for a Fair 9% Gambling Revenue Tax (NF9GRT), filed the initiative petition in February. It would set a new tax rate of 9 percent on net casino gambling revenue above $250,000 per calendar month.

Under current law, net casino gambling revenue in excess of $134,000 per calendar month is taxed at a 6.75 percent rate.

Las Vegas attorney Maggie McLetchie, representing Miller’s group, argued that Russell could rewrite the description of effect for the proposed petition, thus allowing the signature gathering process to begin again without the potential for a new legal challenge.

Attorney Maggie McLetchie and Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller talk with the press after a court ruling against their gaming tax petition. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

But Carson City attorney Matt Griffin, representing the resort association, said Russell did not have the authority to rewrite the proposal, which would in effect take away the association’s due process rights.

The description is flawed and the only solution is to reject the petition and require a new one to be filed, he said.

After the hearing, McLetchie said the NRA is using the legal process to stall the petition effort.

“They are obviously trying to exploit a process that is in place to ensure that voters are informed about the effects of a law to try to drag this out for as long as possible,” she said. “And I think it is unfortunate and I think it is antithetical to the very nature of the initiative process.”

McLetchie said judges have in the past rewritten descriptions of effect on other initiative petitions.

“The interest of the NRA is in trying to delay this process for as long as possible,” she said. “Our interest is trying to get this into the hands of the voters.”

The group has until Nov. 13 to collect 72,352 valid signatures from Nevada voters to send the proposal to the Nevada Legislature in 2013. If the Legislature does not enact the proposal within 40 days, it would go to voters in 2014 and take effect in 2015 if approved. The Legislature could also opt to put a competing proposal on the ballot for voters to consider.

The Legislature would have to get a two-thirds vote to approve the tax hike on casinos instead of sending it to the voters. But Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes said a competing tax proposal dealing with the same subject could be placed on the 2014 ballot by a simple majority vote of the Legislature because voters would have the final say.

If both measures received more than 50 percent of the vote, the one receiving the largest number of votes would take effect.

Miller said he is pursing the gaming tax option in the face of a possible business profits tax appearing on the ballot in 2014 as well. The gaming tax, and another petition that could lead to an increase in the mining tax, would be on the ballot as alternatives to a business tax, he said.

Miller said the proposed business profits tax is a bad idea.

State AFL-CIO leader Danny Thompson said earlier this month his labor group is moving forward with a broad-based business profits tax ballot measure to raise money for education. It would assess a 2 percent tax on net profits in excess of $500,000.

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Audio clips:

Las Vegas attorney Maggie McLetchie says the NRA is trying to stall the petition:

041112McLetchie1 :09 long as possible.”

McLetchie says the group just wants to get the proposal to the voters:

041112McLetchie2 :07 of the voters.”

 

 

Teachers Union President “Excited” That Business Profits Tax Ballot Proposal Moving Forward

By Sean Whaley | 1:56 pm April 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The president of the powerful state teachers union said today she is “excited” that another labor organization, the AFL-CIO, plans to pursue a business profits tax initiative petition.

“It will be a big deal,” said Lynn Warne, head of the Nevada State Education Association. “We’re excited that Danny (Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO) has decided to move forward with this. Anything we can do about funding our schools adequately in this state is great.”

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

Warne did not say in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program that the teachers’ union will be throwing its weight behind the petition drive, however.

Thompson said last week his group will push forward to collect the 72,352 signatures by  November 13 to take the tax proposal to the 2013 Legislature. Lawmakers will have 40 days to approve the proposal or it will go to the voters in 2014. Lawmakers could also offer a competing tax proposal to appear on the ballot, but a two-thirds vote would be required to move any tax measure forward in the Legislature.

Thompson said the proposed tax, which would be assessed on net business profits in excess of $500,000 at a rate of 2 percent, has been projected by some analysts to bring in about $1 billion a year to the state general fund. The money would go to fund public and higher education. The initiative petition has not yet been filed with the Secretary of State’s office.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun last week, Warne said the teachers union has not signed off on Thompson’s proposed tax petition because of concerns regarding the language. Warne said she supports in concept the effort by to raise money for schools.

The teachers union had indicated in January that it would sign on to the tax proposal.

In the NewsMakers interview, Warne said 2014 could be a major election year in Nevada with GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval up for re-election and a business profits tax measure on the ballot as well.

Sandoval has moved “a bit in the direction of needing to keep our education budgets whole,” she said. But Sandoval’s plan to continue a package of taxes set to sunset on June 30, 2013 into the next budget to avoid further cuts to education is inadequate, Warne said.

“We’re still at funding levels that are lower than the 2003 funding for the education budget, so no, it’s not enough and I think the governor would acknowledge that as well,” she said. “But it’s going to help.”

Warne said the two competing tax measures being pushed by Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller, one seeking to give the Legislature the authority to raise the mining tax and a second that would increase the gaming tax on the state’s largest casinos, are being pursued to confuse voters about the business tax proposal.

“Mining and gaming are the low hanging fruit in this state in terms of targets for tax increases,” she said. “And so Monte has picked those. There are a lot of questions as to his sincerity as to whether or not he would want to see those move forward. He has even made comments that should gaming try and strangle Danny’s effort then he will back off his gaming initiatives.”

Warne said the association has never had any discussions with Miller regarding his two petitions.

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Audio clips:

NSEA President Lynn Warne says the association is excited the AFL-CIO is moving forward with a business profits tax:

040912Warne1 :13 adequately is great.”

Warne says Sandoval’s plan to continue the sunsetting taxes isn’t enough but it will help:

040912Warne2 :18 going to help.”

Warne says there are questions as to whether Monte Miller is sincere about his tax petitions:

040912Warne3 :18 those move forward.”

State Labor Group Moving Forward With Business Profits Tax Ballot Measure

By Sean Whaley | 2:46 pm April 3rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – State AFL-CIO leader Danny Thompson said today his labor group is moving forward with a broad-based business profits tax ballot measure to raise money for education.

Thompson, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said the proposal will go forward as a petition to amend state law, which would first be considered by the Legislature in 2013. If the Legislature did not approve the measure within 40 days, it would go to the voters in 2014.

Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO.

Thompson said the tax, which would be assessed on net business profits in excess of $500,000 at a rate of 2 percent, has been projected by some analysts to bring in about $1 billion a year to the state general fund. The money would go to fund public and higher education.

Supporters of the proposal would have until November 13 to gather 72,352 signatures from registered voters, which Thompson said is more than enough time to ensure they would be successful. The measure has not yet been filed with the Secretary of State’s office because a final legal review is still under way, he said.

In a subsequent telephone interview, Thompson said there is no question that the proposal will be challenged in court so it is important to make sure it can withstand such a review.

“We qualified the minimum wage initiative in a period of a couple of months,” Thompson said. “And so we just want to make sure everything is correct. Because you still have to get over a court challenge, which inevitably we know will be coming.”

Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, said too many of Nevada’s students are failing in large part because of inadequate funding. A better educated workforce is needed to diversify the state’s economy as well, he said.

In anticipation of such a tax proposal, Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller has filed two ballot measures, one seeking to give the Legislature the authority to raise the mining tax, and a second that would increase the gaming tax on the state’s largest casinos.

He has called Thompson’s proposal, based on a Texas margin tax, “a destructive, terribly complex tax.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he opposes the various ballot measures, arguing tax discussions belong at the Legislature. Partly in response to the different proposed ballot measures, Sandoval last month said he would extend a collection of taxes set to expire on June 30, 2013, into the next two-year budget to avoid any further cuts to public education.

Thompson said he has had no discussions with Miller about his business profits tax proposal, adding that Nevada has relied for far too long on gaming and mining to fund the state budget and public education.

Nevada will be the last state to recover from the recession because the state depends on discretionary income spent on the state’s gaming industry, Thompson said.

“I don’t know what it’s going to look like if we continue down the road we are going,” he said.

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Audio clips:

Danny Thompson says qualifying the ballot measure won’t be difficult:

040312Thompson1 :15 will be coming.”

Thompson says Nevada now taxes only gaming and mining:

040312Thompson2 :08 don’t pay taxes.”

Thompson says Nevada’s will recover last because of its tax structure:

040312Thompson3 :17 who recover last.”

Thompson says the tax structure needs to change:

040312Thompson4 :14 where we’re at.”

 

 

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.”

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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.”

 

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.”

Sandoval Opposes Tax Petitions, Says Revenue Discussions Belong At Legislature

By Sean Whaley | 3:12 pm February 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he opposes the initiative petitions filed by Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller to raise gaming and mining tax rates.

“I believe initiative petitions are a poor way to set tax policy,” Sandoval said when asked about the measures that could eventually go before Nevada voters. “I’ve advised Mr. Miller, who is a friend, that I do, respectfully, oppose the petitions.

“For an issue of that import I think it is critical that it would be debated at the legislative level and not be of the initiative petition process,” he said.

Graphic from Free Software Foundation via Wikimedia Commons.

Sandoval, who has opposed tax increases generally because of a desire to keep Nevada a friendly state for business creation and job development, said he would not object to a tax policy discussion at the 2013 legislative session, which is now less than a year away.

Using the initiative process, which requires voter approval, takes decisions about tax policy out of the hands of the governor and Legislature.

Miller said he has filed the two initiative petitions to ensure there are alternatives to a Texas-style margin tax that is expected to be filed by labor and education groups to raise additional money for public education.

The margin tax proposal is expected to be headed up by Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, but no such measure has been filed yet with the Secretary of State’s Office.

“We are looking seriously at this process because the legislative process is an impossible one,” Thompson said in an interview in November 2011. “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.”

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

Miller last week filed a petition to amend the state constitution to allow the cap on mining taxes to be increased from 5 percent to 9 percent. If approved by voters, this proposal would actually leave the decision on whether to raise the tax rate in the hands of the governor and Legislature.

On Tuesday Miller filed his petition to change state law to raise the tax rate on the state’s biggest casinos from 6.75 percent to 9 percent. If approved by voters, the increase would take effect in 2015 and could not be changed by the Legislature for at least three years. The practical effect of this constitutional provision would be that the Legislature could not change the tax rate for at least two sessions of the Legislature.

Casinos with revenues of more than $250,000 a month would be subject to the higher tax rate under Miller’s proposal.

It is not easy to qualify a measure for the ballot in Nevada.

For a constitutional amendment, which would have to be approved by voters twice before it could take effect, supporters would need to collect 72,352 valid signatures by June 19. It would appear on the November 2012 ballot.

For a change to state law, supporters would need to gather the same number of signatures by Nov. 13 to send the proposal to the Nevada Legislature in 2013. If the Legislature did not enact the proposal, it would go to voters in 2014 and take effect in 2015 if approved. The Legislature could also opt to put a competing proposal on the ballot for voters to consider.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he opposes using the initiative petition process to address tax policy:

021012Sandoval1 :11 oppose the petitions.”

Sandoval says tax policy should be debated at the Legislature:

021012Sandoval2 :09 initiative petition process.”

 

Gaming Tax Hike Sought As Alternative To Possible Margin Tax Ballot Measure

By Sean Whaley | 1:25 pm February 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller said today he is seeking a hike in the gaming tax for the state’s largest casinos to offer the Legislature and voters one more revenue option in the face of a possible Texas-style margin tax that could appear on the ballot.

Even at the proposed 9 percent rate on net casino gambling revenue above $250,000 per calendar month, Nevada would have the lowest effective tax rate in the world, he said in a telephone interview today.

Slot machine / Photo by Jeff Kubina @ Wikimedia Commons

Under current law, net casino gambling revenue in excess of $134,000 per calendar month is taxed at a 6.75 percent rate.

Miller, through a group called Nevadans for a Fair 9% Gambling Revenue Tax (NF9GRT) on Tuesday filed a statutory initiative petition with the Nevada Secretary of State that would create the new, higher rate.

The proposal, along with another to provide for a possible increase in the mining tax filed last week, are meant to providing voters and policy-makers with options in light of an anticipated ballot proposal from Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, to create a 2 percent margin tax based on the Texas model to provide increased funding for public education. Thompson could not be reached for comment on the status of his expected tax proposal.

Thompson and the other groups expected to support the margin tax ballot measure have not yet filed an initiative petition with the Secretary of State’s office, but Miller said there is plenty of time to do so.

If you look at Texas, and what they’re going through with the Texas margins tax, which is the template for what Mr. Thompson is doing, it’s a destructive, terribly complex tax,” he said. “And you couldn’t have a worse income tax in your state. And so we think the people of Nevada need an alternative.

Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller.

“This would be the first income tax in the state of  Nevada,” Miller said. “We’ve got to give people a choice.”

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, wrote an article this week calling the tax unfair to small business and an “abject failure,” in Texas.

Miller said a 9 percent rate is a fair tax rate for the biggest casino operations. The number that surprised him comes from Indiana, where that state collected nearly $875 million in taxes from 11 casinos in 2010. Nevada collected $835 million in 2010, he said.

Indiana’s tax rates go from 15 percent to 40 percent.

“We’re not asking for 15 percent, we’re saying 9 percent, (it) still would be the lowest in the world, the lowest effective tax rate in the world,” he said.

“This initiative represents a 33 percent tax increase on the gaming industry, which would be reckless and irresponsible,” Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said in an email to the Associated Press. “We are currently reviewing the language. If this effort is indeed legitimate, we will oppose it vigorously.”

Miller said the proposal is not a tax on all casino revenue.

“If our initiative becomes law, it will not increase taxes on room rates, shows, shopping or restaurants in casinos,” he said. “Nor would it increase taxes on small casinos, taverns or convenience stores.

“Nevada’s individuals and small businesses are overtaxed,” Miller said. “By fairly taxing the billions of dollars that big casinos win from high-rolling gamblers, we can lower taxes and fees on individuals and small businesses who are struggling during these tough economic times.”

The group will have to collect 72,352 valid signatures from Nevada voters by Nov. 13 to send the proposal to the Nevada Legislature in 2013. If the Legislature did not enact the proposal, it would go to voters in 2014 and take effect in 2015 if approved. The Legislature could also opt to put a competing proposal on the ballot for voters to consider.

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Audio clips:

Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller says a Texas-style margins tax would be destructive in Nevada:

020812Miller1 :26 in your state.”

Miller says even at 9 percent, the top gaming tax rate would be the lowest in the world:

020812Miller2 :10 in the world.”

Nevada Group Files Initiative Petition To Allow Legislature, Governor To Raise Mining Taxes

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 5:50 pm January 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – A group called Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes filed a constitutional amendment initiative today with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office that would allow the cap on mining taxes to increase from 5 percent to 9 percent.

“This initiative is not a tax increase,” said Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller, who heads up the group. “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.”

Courtesy of Newmont.

Miller said the constitutional amendment would give the Nevada Legislature and governor the tools they need to enact fair tax reform in Nevada.

“It is our hope that the Nevada Legislature will utilize this constitutional amendment to make mining companies pay their fair share and enact tax reform that will lower the burden on small businesses and homeowners,” Miller said. “By fairly taxing out-of-state mining companies, we can lower taxes on the people of Nevada.”

Tim Crowley, president of the Nevada Mining Association, said he has not reviewed the proposal with his membership and so has no official position on the proposal. But he said it was “interesting” that a highly visible, anti-tax businessman is working to “pave the way for a tax increase.”

Groups seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot would need to collect 72,352 valid signatures by June 19. The measure would have to be approved by voters twice, in 2012 and again in 2014, to take effect.

The group said in its announcement that the largest gold mining company in Nevada is based in Canada and the second largest is based in Colorado, the group said in an announcement of the filing. The price of gold is currently more than $1,700 per ounce and many experts predict that it could reach more than $2,000 per ounce this year.

In 2010, mining companies in Nevada extracted more than $6.6 billion worth of gold, which netted them almost $2.8 billion in revenue. The same year, mining companies paid only $149.5 million in state and county taxes in Nevada

Taxes in other gold producing jurisdictions are much higher, the group said. For example, provinces in Canada tax net revenue up to 16 percent.

“Nevadans should benefit more from Nevada gold and foreign and out-of-state companies should benefit less,” Miller said. “Once the gold is gone, these companies will leave Nevada and take their billions with them. The mining companies can afford to pay their fair share.”

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.”

GOP Primary Voters Could Chart Course of State Senate, Nevada Legislature

By Sean Whaley | 1:29 pm May 20th, 2010

Part 1 of 2 on Five Key State Senate Races

CARSON CITY – Over the past several legislative sessions the state Senate Republican caucus has shown a willingness to work across the aisle with Democrats, with some GOP lawmakers voting more than once for tax increases as a way to balance the budget.

Led by Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, Senate Republicans have often gone along with programs and policies pushed by Democrats in a spirit of compromise to finish the Legislature’s business every other year.

But this long-held practice could soon change.

Three of Raggio’s long-time allies in the Senate are being termed out of office and a fourth has resigned. Former Sens. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, and Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, are already gone, having resigned to take other jobs. A third senator loyal to Raggio, Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, will be replaced in the 2010 general election. Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, also resigned from the Senate.

Another Raggio colleague, Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, is facing a primary challenge from Elizabeth Halseth in his Clark Senate 9 re-election bid. Halseth calls herself a “true conservative” for Nevada.

These primary races all have something in common. They include Republican candidates who are, if you believe their campaign promises, far less likely to seek compromise with Democrats if they win in the primary and then general elections.

In four of these five cases, more moderate Republican primary challengers are also on the ballot, giving Republican voters a choice.

Republicans are expected to easily take at least two of the seats in the general election, and three of the five have sizable GOP voter registration edges over Democrats.

If voters decide to back the more conservative GOP candidates in the June 8 primary, the 2011 legislative session could see a far more confrontational relationship with Senate and Assembly Democrats over a multitude of issues, not the least of which will be taxes.

A conservative turnout in the primary might also shift the balance of power away from Raggio, potentially putting his position as current Senate minority leader in jeopardy. Rumors have circulated that Raggio, who is in his final term in the Senate, might step down before the 2011 session. He has denied these rumors, saying he will serve in his final session.

Raggio has served in the Senate since 1973, most often as the leader of the GOP caucus, either as majority leader or minority leader.

Early voting for the primary begins Saturday.

Janine Hansen, a long-time political activist with the Independent American Party, said she believes Republican voters will show up on election day and cast their votes for the true conservative candidates.

Republican voters are fed up with establishment candidates who have voted for tax increases and an ever-expanding government, she said.

Hansen, who is running as the IAP candidate for an Assembly seat in the Elko area, said some Republicans have left the party because true conservative candidates don’t get support from the powers that be.

“There is a chance for significant culture change in the state Senate,” she said. “I think it would benefit the public.”

Many observers says turnout will be a key in the contests. Lower turnout is generally viewed as favoring the more conservative candidates.

Pete Ernaut, a political consultant with R&R Partners, said there are too many variables at play to make any predictions about who will win in the contested Senate and Assembly races. The ability for candidates to talk with voters one-on-one plays a big role in such contests, he said. But Ernaut said he does believe turnout will be higher than many observers are predicting.

Several candidates also cite the adage that “all politics is local,” meaning that voters in each district may vote for a candidate based on local issues and concerns rather than some overarching conservative versus moderate theme.

Running in Washoe Senate 2 are Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, and Washoe County Commissioner Bob Larkin, viewed as the more moderate of the two candidates. There are also two Democrats in the race. The district favors the GOP by 2,000 voters based on active registration numbers as of April.

Running in Washoe Senate 4 are Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, and former Gov. Jim Gibbons press secretary Ben Kieckhefer, again considered to be the more moderate of the two candidates. Two other Republicans, Todd Bailey and Frank Wright, are also running, but no Democrats are on the ballot. An Independent American Party candidate will be on the November ballot. The GOP has a 6,000 vote edge over Democrats in the district.

Running in the Capital Senate District are Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, and Steve Yeater. A Democrat and IAP candidate are also running but the district has an 8,000 GOP edge. Both Settelmeyer and Yeater, of Dayton, describe themselves as traditional GOP conservatives.

Running in Clark Senate 9 are Nolan and Halseth, along with three Democrats and an Independent American. The district has a nearly 4,000 Democrat voter registration advantage, however.

Running in Clark Senate 12 are Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, and newcomer Patrick McNaught, viewed as the more conservative of the two candidates. The registration balance in the district is virtually tied with Democrats. There is a third Republican, Steve Sanson, as well as a Democrat and IAP candidate, in the race as well.

The conservative Keystone Corporation, which says its goal is to recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential  state services, has endorsed Cobb, Settelmeyer, Halseth and McNaught. There was no endorsement in the Washoe Senate 2 race.

Keystone Treasurer Monte Miller said the Senate candidates endorsed by his organization were selected because they share the view that the public employee sector has not shared in the job losses, salary reductions, benefit reductions and other sacrifices made by the private sector in the current downturn.

“These candidates believe that public employees need to be part of the solution,” he said.

Essential government services can be preserved if public employee wages and benefits are put more in line with what is offered in the private sector, Miller said.

The endorsed candidates also agree that businesses cannot afford to pay more taxes. The “compromise” in the 2009 session led to a 97 percent tax increase on business, he said.

The trend seen nationally of voters rejecting candidates who don’t share these views will be in evidence in Nevada in the primary as well, Miller said.

“Compromise has to come from the other side of the aisle,” Miller said. “It’s our turn.”

Next: The Candidates Weigh In on Their Races