Getting serious about taxes
Nevada lawmakers can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel as the conclusion of the 120-day legislative session draws closer.
But they still have a bevy of issues to tackle over the next two weeks, and week 16 of the Nevada Legislature promises to bring contentious hearings and legislative drama as lawmakers race toward a June 1 deadline.
Lawmakers need to decide on a bill allowing ride-sharing companies like Uber to legally operate in the state, and they’ll be reviewing a new compromise tax plan that Gov. Brian Sandoval thinks can pass the unpredictable Assembly.
Here’s what to watch for:
MORE MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS
Gov. Brian Sandoval released a revised tax plan last week that aims to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help fund K-12 education and address concerns that came up during hours and hours of tax hearings and debates.
Sandoval’s Nevada Revenue Plan combines elements of the bill he presented in March, SB252, and parts of a plan from Assembly Republican leaders Paul Anderson and Derek Armstrong, AB464.
Anderson said the bill will likely get a hearing sometime early next week, and he believes the revised tax plan has a decent shot of clearing the two-thirds majority required to raise any revenue.
Meanwhile, nearly a dozen Assembly Republicans support a long-shot alternative budget that doesn’t raise taxes and would raise $6.9 billion over two years — half a billion dollars less than Sandoval hopes to raise.
TIME’S RUNNING OUT
With roughly two weeks left in the session, bills need to move toward the finish line or they’ll never make it. Measures that passed the Assembly or Senate, depending on where they were introduced, must pass a vote out of the other house by Friday.
While legislators have done most of their work in committees up to this point, much of the action is expected to come on the Assembly or Senate floor.
UBER’S BUMPY ROAD
The ball is in the Assembly’s court on a bill that would regulate Uber and other ride-hailing companies in Nevada. The measure, AB175, requires a two-thirds vote to pass because it imposes a 3 percent tax on the fare for any taxi or Uber ride.
The proposal set up a fierce, expensive lobbying battle between the taxi industry, which said a separate regulatory structure for ride-hailing compromises public safety, and Uber proponents, who say the taxi industry neglects residents outside of touristy areas.
Assembly members held a long hearing last week to discuss the policy, and Anderson said the measure will be up for a vote as soon as enough members are on board.
Another measure creating an insurance framework for ride-hailing companies, SB 440, was granted an exemption from legislative deadlines on Friday.
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
Members of an Assembly committee are likely to pass a bill creating a study and mandating a breakup of the Clark County School District. Republican Assemblyman David Gardner is sponsoring AB394 and said the measure will be voted out of an Assembly money committee sometime this week.
The bill would create an interim committee charged with studying how to break up the nation’s fifth largest school district into five evenly divided school precincts before the 2017-18 school year.
Gardner said he expects the measure to get Democratic support, and is cautiously optimistic that the bill can pass the Senate before the session ends.