Bill drafts focus on tax reform

Bill drafts requested from the Legislative Counsel Bureau for the 2005 Nevada legislative session show the tax issue isn't going away.

More than a half-dozen proposed pieces of legislation either attempt to clarify the taxes passed by the 2003 Legislature or to impose mandates or limits on spending.

Among them is Carson City Assemblyman Ron Knecht's proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate the state Supreme Court decision in the tax case and restore the two-thirds majority required to pass or raise taxes. Knecht's proposal would also tie future growth in state spending to economic growth.

Sharron Angle, R-Reno, requested property-tax legislation similar to an initiative for which she was unable to raise enough signatures to place on the November ballot.

It would limit property-tax increases and change the method of calculating them and give concessions to longtime property owners in the state.

Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, also has requested a bill to limit future tax increases.

In addition, Assemblyman John Marvel, R-Battle Mountain, wants to repeal the modified business tax on financial institutions.

Several proposals would increase or mandate spending, including one to require per-pupil spending by the state to meet or exceed the national average. That mirrors the teachers' association ballot question, which they estimate would require another tax increase larger than the one approved by the 2003 Legislature.

There are several proposals being drafted for the 2005 session designed to toughen the state's open-meeting laws - most of them prompted by a Board of Regents decision to meet behind closed doors before demoting the president of Community College of Southern Nevada and his chief legislative lobbyist.

A related measure requested by the Attorney General's Office would require all public bodies to audiotape their meetings, whether open or closed, and to keep those tapes. The Attorney General's Office has requested a total of five measures dealing with the open-meeting law, including strengthening enforcement provisions.

That office has also filed a complaint against the regents, charging their closed-door sessions violate the existing law.

The list of 216 bill drafts was on file with the Legislative Counsel Bureau's legal division as of Thursday. Many of the proposals are identified as having been made by various agencies and some by specific lawmakers. Many are identified only as "requested by legislator."

Among the proposals are two designed to create school vouchers in Nevada. Sen. Washington has filed that request every session since he was first elected.

The state controller's office has asked for authorization to establish a fee for state agencies to charge when customers use credit cards. Now, the state is picking up that cost - which runs to several hundred thousand dollars a year at the Department of Motor Vehicles, for example.

Assemblywoman Genie Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, wants to require that women's prisons in Nevada "be administrated by women only."

An unidentified legislator has proposed combining the offices of state controller and state treasurer.

The requests will all be drafted for introduction as legislation when the 2005 session opens in February. While up to 1,500 bills are requested each session, many are never introduced and only a fraction of those win final passage.

Contact Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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