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Mining tax bill killed again by Senate Republicans after changes made by Democrats

By ThisIsReno

By Bob Conrad and Lucia Starbuck

Nevada’s Democratic legislators tried again. 

On the eleventh day of the special session, lawmakers searched for ways to bring in money to offset the $1.15 billion budget deficit in Nevada’s General Fund and find new revenue.

In a second attempt to collect additional revenue from mining companies to fill the major budget shortfall, the Senate revived Assembly Bill 4 with an amendment. AB4 died around 3 a.m. on Friday after Republican senators voted against the measure.

“What has been asked for has been given,” said Democratic Senator Nicole Cannizzaro. She said the Democrats revised AB4 to meet Republican demands.

But Republican Senators again shot down the bill tonight.

The revised AB4 proposed that a 60 percent cap on deductions could only come from mining companies that exceed $10 million in gross proceeds. Out of the 104 mining companies in Nevada, 38 of them reported over $10 million to the Nevada Department of Taxation in 2019.

The bill would reduce deductions mines could claim — to subtract from their gross proceeds — which would in effect increase their net proceeds and, thus, increase monies going to the state’s general fund.

Those dollars would have been earmarked specifically to education, a change to AB4 Democrats said was at the behest of Republicans.

The first $50 million of the revenue would have been distributed to the supplemental support for classroom instruction account and the next 50 million appropriated to New Nevada Education Funding Plan. 

Republican Senator Keith Pickard said earlier today he would vote for the bill if there was written language to ensure that the revenue collected would be funneled into education. However, a little after 11 a.m. today, Pickard told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he would not be voting for the bill. 

Democratic staffers placed flip-flops leading to Pickard’s office door in the Legislature, which made the Senate Republicans upset.

“Here you go Nevada! Democrat elected officials playing pranks while everyone WAITS for them to continue the business of the legislature during this special session!” Senate republicans tweeted.

Pickard instead said he would be throwing his support behind Republican Senator Joe Hardy’s proposal to generate $600 million from taxing renewable energy sold from Nevada to other states, a bill Hardy introduced in 2017, but failed without getting heard, according to The Nevada Independent.

Pickard said he wrongfully committed to the altered AB4 earlier today.

“I’m committed to finding a solution once and for all,” he said. “We need to have everyone at the same and expect them to be there. I’m not going to support a bill full of flaws, full of errors. I can’t support the bill even though I am as desperate to fund education as anyone. Did I make a mistake? You bet I did.”

Republican Senator James Settlemeyer also voted against AB4, saying it would put mines in his district out of business.

Democratic Senator Melanie Scheibel said, “This bill is well written and it is clear. The choice before us is an easy one.”

Democratic Senator Julia Ratti agreed.

“If there are dollars that we can find so that we can do this today, where are those dollars? Every single dollar matters,” she said. “I think this bill is incredibly important — there’s an urgency.”

Republican Senator Ben Kieckhefer said those dollars are coming from the feds. He accused Dems of cutting more from education.

“They cut more from K-12 at the same time replacing massive amounts of money to support fully employed, fully insured [and] fully pensioned adults,” he said.

AB4  would have generated an estimated $100 million to the state. The legislature, through court decisions, has leeway to determine deductions mines can make, legislature staff testified Thursday.

Flip flops at the Nevada Legislature. Image:Lucia Starbuck
Flip flops at the Nevada Legislature. Image:Lucia Starbuck



David Judy July 21, 2020 - 10:44 am

Responding to what appears to be a Republican attempt to deny education funding for the state of Nevada, I must note that the headline here is typically one sided and allows readers who chose not to read the article to walk away with inaccurate “bullet points”. The Nevada mining industry does pay taxes and over the past 10 years or so has averaged 4th or 5th in mining taxes and total taxes paid when compared to all other western states with mining industry tax revenue. It should be noted as well that starting in March of this year $200,00 dollars were provided by the Nevada Mining Association to assist small businesses in the small towns that serve the mining communities, helping 33 businesses survive the Covid crisis.

Assembly Bill SB4 allegedly would provide 100 million dollars to the general fund with 50 million for immediate classroom funding and 50 million for the New Nevada Education Funding Plan. This part of the allocation of funds would not provided immediate classroom assistance rather is funneled into committee studies, analysis, and other assessments of how education funds are allocated. Within the Republican camp there is and has been ( refer to SB336 ignored in 2017) sponsored by State Senator Joe Hardy, to tax renewable energy sources produced in Nevada and sold to other states. This would include energy sources such as biomass fuel cells, geothermal energy, solar energy, and water driven energy production. It is estimated that this would provided in the area of 600 million dollars in tax revenue.

Note as well SB3 which as an Act that will provide 58 million dollars in tax revenue by requiring a 5% up front tax payment due immediately in addition to remaining taxes paid by all mining companies at the end of the fiscal tax year. This Act will remain in force until 2023. I wonder how much in tax dollars we all paid to clean up the immature path of flip flops left behind?

Let us all encourage our legislators to work together in a nonpartisan fashion and eliminate unnecessary muck raking. Together the budget short falls can be remedied in the professional manner we expect from our elected officials.

Louise M. Pens July 18, 2020 - 9:36 pm

Before any taxes raised, Governor needs to give up his salary. He is the cause of this mess. Then the renewable energy bill would not hurt anyone in Nevada. All businesses have suffered enough through miss management with the shut down and now demand to wear masks. Where is are freedom?

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