August 27, 2019
27 Aug 2019

Political Update – August 27, 2019


GOP lawsuit vital to protecting our representative system of government

Robert Fellner
Nevada Policy Research Institute

August 12, 2019

In an effort to defend our state constitution and representative system of government, the Senate Republican Caucus recently filed a lawsuit to invalidate a pair of tax hikes that were passed without the constitutionally required two-thirds support.

After successive, landslide votes in 1994 and 1996, Nevadans amended the state constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the Legislature to pass any bill “which creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form.”

Thus, when Senate Democrats sought to pass a pair of bills that would prevent the expiration of one tax and the scheduled decline of another, most expected those bills would require at least two-thirds support to pass.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau, however, determined that a bill which prevents the scheduled decline of an existing tax does not increase revenue and, as such, can be passed by a simple majority vote.

While most would consider the two-thirds provision to be remarkably clear, the LCB found it vague and ambiguous, and ultimately concluded that it only applies to bills that create a new tax or directly increase an existing one.

The LCB claimed that when the constitution references a bill that “creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form,” it’s actually only referring to bills that “directly increase revenue,” either by overtly raising an existing tax or creating a new one.

But such an interpretation is strictly prohibited by the rules of statutory construction as articulated by the Nevada Supreme Court, which requires courts to avoid rendering any constitutional text “meaningless or superfluous.”

Because the text of the two-thirds provision references any bill that “creates, generates, or increases” any public revenue, even if one finds that text unclear and in need of further clarification, the resultant definition must be more expansive than just bills which directly increase revenue, in order to prevent rendering the terms of “creates” and “generates” meaningless.

In other words, the constitutional text of “creates, generates, or increases” cannot be reduced to just “increases.”

This is why the LCB’s citation to the state Supreme Courts of Oregon and Oklahoma is not persuasive, as both of those courts were interpreting the narrower phrase of “bills for raising revenue.”

So, what might Nevada’s much broader language apply to, beyond just new taxes or increases in existing taxes as the LCB contends?


Quote of
the week



“At the Keystone Corporation, we believe it this provision of our Constitution is worth fighting to defend, and that is why we joined this lawsuit. Further, if legislators can simply ignore the Nevada Constitution to allow for tax increases on the Modified Business Tax (MBT) and on DMV fees this year, what will happen when they try to raise our sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, and on and on?”

Keystone Corporation

Emails raise questions about award of DMV computer contract

Arthur Kane

Las Vegas Review-Journal
August 24, 2019

Officials of a tech company that was awarded a contract to modernize the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles’ computer system met with the agency’s former director and key staffers just months before the state issued a request for proposals for the project, emails show.

The emails raise questions about whether the company, Tech Mahindra, had an inside track for the failed $75 million contract. Officials involved in the meetings and representatives of other companies that bid for the project did not return calls or emails asking whether other bidders met with state officials before the RFP. 

According to the emails, Tech Mahindra vice president Aman Sethi met with then-DMV director Troy Dillard on Feb. 18, 2015, to discuss the modernization. Three weeks later, Sethi scheduled a meeting that included Karuppuswamy Manivannan and Anand Vijayaraghavan, two state IT employees who would end up on the selection committee that picked Tech Mahindra, emails show.

Keystone’s Mission:

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.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

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