Suit challenging Nevada Catalyst Fund dismissed
January 30, 2017
The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Gov. Brian Sandoval's Catalyst Fund was dismissed Monday because the lawyers pushing the action failed to follow District Judge Todd Russell's orders issued nearly two years ago.
"I made this very clear in March almost two years ago that I felt there were parties that weren't named and should be named," he told NPRI lawyer Joe Becker.
Becker told the judge they didn't comply by adding Solar City and Clark County to the case because, after the Public Utilities Commission changed the rules governing rooftop solar credits, Solar City basically left the state.
There are now some 16 businesses that have received Catalyst Fund money. In fact, that fund's $20 million is now all but depleted.
With NPRI's help, Michael Little sued to block the state from giving private companies state tax dollars objecting to the grant of $1.2 million to Solar City, which he said is his direct competitor.
The Nevada Policy Research Institute sued on his behalf arguing Nevada's Constitution clearly prohibits the transfer of public funds to a private business. Becker said he doesn't know what his client will want to do with Russell's decision. But he said another case could be filed making the same constitutionality argument.
Russell previously ruled Little lacked the standing to make a blanket challenge of the Catalyst Fund based on being a taxpayer. Becker, however, said that has changed in the wake of a more recent Nevada Supreme Court decision essentially giving taxpayers some standing to challenge the actions of government.
Because of that ruling in the school vouchers case, Becker said, "I think the Supreme Court would be more sympathetic."
"The plaintiff has had the burden here to comply with the court's order and prosecute this case," said Legislative Council Bureau lawyer Kevin Powers. "Plaintiff has clearly disregarded the order of this court."
Becker said he still believes the Catalyst Fund is unconstitutional on its face despite the attempt to cleanse it by running the money through Clark County instead of giving it directly to the businesses.
Becker said it still is public money being transferred to a business. He pointed out that the issue of allowing public money to be given to private businesses has been on the ballot three times and rejected by voters each time.
He added that there are other businessmen and individuals who may want to take up the fight.