the commentary of
Never Mind What the
AB291: It's very interesting and a little disheartening to review the public comments by our State Senators on this bill, the purpose of which is to give county commissioners the power to increase sales taxes, and then compare their statements to their actual votes.
Senate Taxation Committee voted 5-2 in favor of AB29l,
with a few amendments; however, no one proposed the
biggie, an amendment to allow the people to vote on the
tax increase. Let's review their actions.
Carson City Senator ERNIE ADLER -- "I've got a lot
of constituents who aren't happy about not having a vote
of the people" he stated. Apparently, the fact the
people who elected him wanted a say in the matter was
starting to get to him; therefore, before this beginning
of a backbone could solidify, he was hauled to the
woodshed, so to speak, by the lobbyists for the casinos,
unions, etc. Not only that, Governor Bob Miller paid him
a personal visit as well, acting on behalf of, not the
citizens of Nevada, but of the lobbyists themselves.
Next, Senator RANDOLPH TOWNSEND -- "Half
the calls and letters I've gotten in the past month are
on this (AB291), and they don't want to see this unless
they get a vote. On tax issues, they want the right to
Elko Senator DEAN RHOADS: An A.P wire story stated,
"[Rhoads] is one of three committee members who'd
rather put the tax on the ballot. "I would prefer it
go to a vote of the public," he said.
"Senator Ann O'Connell, R-Las Vegas, has been an
outspoken critic of tax increases in past sessions and
agrees that voters should have a say. 'That would be my
number one preference. The [June 3] elections (in which
bond measures were defeated in Sparks, Elko and
Henderson) prove we're right. It shows that people need
to vote on this. I'm going to bring it up in committee.'
Next, Committee Chairman MIKE McGINNIS of Fallon. Clearly worried over the political fallout, McGinnis postponed the original committee vote after behind-closed-doors meetings with
Assembly members who had voted in favor of AB291. If the Senate voted AB291 down, it would look bad for them. Panic stricken, they privately pleaded their case to McGinnis.
McGinnis had never completely tipped his hand, but indicated he was at least willing to give the people a chance. "We'll talk about it [allowing the people to vote]. I would expect some amendments."
If they talked about it, it was a pretty brief conversation. McGinness proposed no amendment either. He voted yes. Score: lobbyists 4, the people 1.
one of the most liberal State Senators , and the
Democratic candidate for the Southern Nevada
Congressional district in the last election, BOB COFFIN.
Being a good loyal left-winger with close ties to the
unions, who are strong backers of the bill, Coffin was
the one member of the committe whose vote was a given. At
least I thought so; but I was wrong. His public reasoning
--- it would be bad for his district. My bet --- he felt
it would be a serious damper on his political future.
Coffin voted no. Score: lobbyists 4, the people, 2.
but not least, Democrat JACK REGAN of Las Vegas. Senator
Regan stated: "From a philosophical standpoint, I
support all taxes going to a vote of the public."
But he was quick to add a disclaimer, saying he wouldn't
"push for a public vote." He certainly didn't
lie. His philosophy didn't stand in the way of power
politics, and he didn't "push for a public
course, many don't think of Senate Majority Leader BILL
RAGGIO as being a lobbyist. But you can count on it: his
influence behind the scenes, twisting various Senators'
arms through promises and threats, reigned supreme.
Ironically, the Republican Party leadership here in Nevada has indicated the Party is in favor of a public vote. John Mason, Chairman, sent out a fax to KOH Radio with some of the same Senators' quotes I used above, under the caption "Quarter cent sales tax hike: let the (little) people vote." If the Republicans are so in favor of a public vote, why is the most powerful Republican in the legislature doing everything he can to prevent it?
This blatant effort to force tax increases on
the people --- clearly against their will --- is the most
serious attempt I have ever seen here in Nevada to, in
effect, crush representative government by the sheer
brute force of a combination of unions, casinos and local
governments. To force this through is tantamount to
taxation without representation. If our legislators don't
have the guts to stand up to these powerful special
interest groups, the least they could do is give the
ordinary citizen a fighting chance through the ballot
You can bet on it; this is one issue that's going to haunt them for a long, long time.
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