Posts Tagged ‘teachers association’

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.

 

 

 

 

New Margin Tax Initiative Petition Pushed By Teachers Union Challenged In Court

By Sean Whaley | 6:24 pm August 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs has filed a new lawsuit against a revised margin tax initiative petition sought by the Nevada State Education Association for violating a prohibition requiring such measures to focus on a single subject.

The teachers association filed the revised petition in August after Carson City District Judge James Wilson found the original measure seeking to levy a 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year violated the single subject requirement for initiative petitions. The revised measure removed the provision found to violate the rule.

The new tax would generate an estimated $800 million a year for public education.

But Josh Hicks, the attorney representing the committee, said that the description of effect for the new initiative is still deceptive and though rewritten, continues to violate the single subject rule.

Even after removing several portions of the original Education Initiative that the court found violated Nevada Law, “the fact still remains that the union’s second attempt to pass a margin tax on Nevadans fails to mention that their petition does not guarantee that education spending will increase at all if the tax is enacted,” the committee said in announcing the new legal challenge.

The very real possibility exists that because of this petition, large-scale government spending could increase in other areas as a result of the revenue raised by this new tax, the committee said in the statement.

“Nevada law prohibits misleading voters about the purpose of an initiative petition,” Hicks said. “This new petition (in essence a second version) is solely designed to increase general tax revenues and general government spending by taking advantage of voters’ feelings about education in order to gain enough signatures to qualify and eventually pass a billion dollar plus tax increase.”

The teachers union said when the revised petition was filed that it was confident that it would withstand any legal challenge.

The teachers union is now collecting the signatures need to take the proposal to the Legislature in 2013. 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.

The new challenge will be considered in Carson City District Court.