November 26, 2019
26 Nov 2019

Political Update – November 26, 2019

Democrats need outside lawyer in tax fight, judge rules

Bill Dentzer
Las Vegas Review-Journal

November 20, 2019

CARSON CITY — Elected state Democrats can’t be represented by the Legislature’s own lawyers in a lawsuit Republican senators filed to challenge the legality of two tax bills passed last session, a state judge has ruled.

The ruling means state Democrats named as defendants, including Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro; Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, as Senate president; and Gov. Steve Sisolak will need to be represented by outside counsel in the case, though fees will be paid by the state. The judge set April 1 for a hearing.

The dispute involves the Legislature’s votes last session to kill a scheduled decrease in the state’s modified business tax and keep a $1 technology fee on DMV transactions. Under a voter referendum approved in the mid-1990s, any bill that raises revenue from taxes in Nevada requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature to pass.

The two bills in question met that threshold for passage in the Assembly but were one vote short of it in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 13-8 advantage. The bills passed the Senate by that margin and on party lines.

The business tax was scheduled to decrease with the start of the current fiscal year in July. Keeping it directs approximately $100 million in revenue to pay for education-related initiatives that were Democratic legislative priorities for the session.

Over Republican objections, Democrats pushed the bills through on the basis of a legal opinion from the nonpartisan Legislative Counsel Bureau. The bureau’s lawyers wrote that the two-thirds majority requirement did not apply when a tax is being extended at its existing rate. The eight Republican senators filed a lawsuit in July.

In Tuesday’s hearing, Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell sided with a GOP motion in the case to have the Counsel Bureau’s lawyers barred from representing the Democrats in the partisan dispute.


Quote of
the week



“It appears to this court that there’s a need for LCB to maintain its neutrality as to representation of all individual members of the Legislature. I just don’t think you can pick sides by representing individual senators against other senators.”

Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell

Clark County teachers union to push tax increase ballot initiatives

Amelia Pak-Harvey
Las Vegas Review-Journal

November 19, 2019

The Clark County teachers union is increasing member dues to fund a multi-million dollar campaign that would ask voters to approve a tax increase to provide at least $1 billion more annually for public education in Nevada.

The campaign aims to create two companion initiative petitions to raise taxes, although the Clark County Education Association has not yet settled on which taxes it would seek to increase. Initiative petitions require signatures of 10 percent of the voters who participated in the last general election in order to enact a ballot measure.

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