The first week of the 2015 Nevada Legislature was anything but slow, and lawmakers shouldn’t expect much rest during the second week of the 120-day session.
Legislators not only have a bevy of deadlines and important tax discussions to dig into it, but also the possible launch of recall attempts and an alternative budget to watch out for.
BILL DRAFT REQUEST DEADLINE
Monday is an important deadline for lawmakers, as it marks the final day that bill draft requests can be submitted. The requests outline a broad idea and are the first step to an actual bill; they don’t always translate into a written piece of legislation.
Individual lawmakers, committees, state agencies and the governor can submit bill draft requests, and nearly 960 have been submitted so far this session. Not every bill draft request makes it to a committee hearing, as committee chairs can decline to schedule a hearing or a vote on a particular bill.
Even if a particular topic isn’t addressed in a bill draft request, legislators and lobbyists are skilled at tacking the ideas onto quasi-related or unrelated bills through amendments.
Nevada state Treasurer Dan Schwartz went outside of his job description when he and Controller Ron Knecht released a “broad-based outline” that counters Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget. The newly elected Republican treasurer said he’s meeting Monday with a group of Assembly and Senate Republicans who are unhappy with Sandoval’s proposals to increase and extend more than $1.1 billion in taxes.
Nevada’s constitution requires the governor to prepare a two-year budget every legislative session, but Schwartz said he released the alternative budget at the request of tax-averse Republicans. He said the Monday meeting could possibly lead to bill draft requests that could bring the budget recommendations to life.
The alternative $6.8 billion proposal calls for tax increases on airline passengers and gambling, and would cut $20 million from various state agencies.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson wasn’t kidding when he said before the legislative session that he’d jump into tax policy the first week. The Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development met Friday afternoon to learn about the live entertainment tax, and plans to review property tax, sales tax, a proposed services tax and the governor’s proposed business license fee in coming weeks.
The live entertainment tax generally applies to concerts, shows and sporting events. But the law includes a lengthy list of events that are exempt, including entertainment provided by a nonprofit organization or small casinos, boxing matches, NASCAR races, minor league baseball games and certain concerts.
Roberson said he plans to vet all of the tax proposals and have a tax package before the Senate by March.
Recall efforts led by conservative activist Chuck Muth against a number of Republican Assembly members can officially begin Thursday. Activists would need to collect thousands of signatures before the secretary of state would authorize recall elections against Assembly Speaker John Hambrick and Assembly members Chris Edwards and Stephen Silberkraus.
Muth said the recall efforts were mostly an attempt to get the Assembly Republicans to vote against Sandoval’s proposed tax hikes. Recall attempts are rarely successful in Nevada, and no recall petition against a member of the Legislature has succeeded since at least 1993.
Hambrick and Edwards say they’re confident they can survive any recall attempt. Silberkraus did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Associated Press writer Michelle Rindels contributed to this report.
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