Democratic amendment halts transportation funding plan | NevadaAppeal.com

Democratic amendment halts transportation funding plan

The scheduled vote on the proposed transportation funding package was moved back a day Saturday while Republicans look for a way to vote against a proposed Democrat amendment.

Their problem is Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, proposed adding an advisory ballot question that would ask voters if they want to raise diesel fuel taxes up to match the tax on gasoline. Diesel is currently taxed at 27 cents per gallon while gasoline is taxed at 33 cents.

Democrats say the trucking industry isn’t contributing to road construction and maintenance money. She said there is ample evidence that diesel trucks do much more damage to highways than cars. Titus said studies show trucks aren’t paying their fair share of highway construction and maintenance costs. She said putting the issue before voters isn’t raising the tax, it’s asking voters for direction in an advisory vote.

The proposed amendment, designed to be difficult for the Republican majority to oppose, forced a quick caucus by the GOP Senators.

After the caucus, Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the transportation bill, AB595, would be moved over to today’s agenda.

“Last minute amendments are not going to be decided this way,” he said as he emerged from the caucus.

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He said he will pull any bill if last-minute amendments are brought up “because I’m not going to have them here with no opportunity to discuss.”

“Let’s not have legislation by ambush,” he told the floor session before adjournment Saturday. “I don’t think that helps the process. If there are amendments, get them out in the open and let’s discuss them.”

AB595, worked out over the past month by Assembly Transportation Chairman Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, and Senate Transportation Chairman Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, would generate money by shifting it from other sources including the Convention and Visitors authorities in Las Vegas and Reno and the property taxes collected by local governments in those areas. It would produce enough to bond for more than $1 billion worth of road construction over the next decade.

The debate will be held today.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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