Appeal to block gaming tax petition set for July 1 | NevadaAppeal.com

Appeal to block gaming tax petition set for July 1

The Nevada Supreme Court set what Chief Justice Mark Gibbons described as an expedited date to hear the appeal of the decision allowing the teachers’ proposed gaming tax to move forward toward the ballot.

But the date he set, July 1, is 10 days after the deadline for the teachers’ union to submit signatures to the counties to qualify the initiative petition for the ballot.

The petition would raise the tax on casinos earning more than $1 million a month from 6.75 percent to 9.75 percent and dedicate the estimated $250 million a year generated to public schools.

In asking for a rapid decision in the case, Nevada Resort Association lawyer Todd Bice made it clear the intent was to stop the signature gathering before the union turned in thousands of names to qualify the issue for the November ballot. He argued the description of the effect the petition would have is seriously deficient. Bice argued during the hearing in district court that many voters may see raising gaming taxes to fund public schools as a good idea.

But he said they might not sign the petition if they were aware of some of the other impacts it would have – including that even any minor violation of the rules it would place in the constitution would result in voiding the entire state education budget.

Gibbons said in announcing the July hearing the court will rule on the appeal as quickly as possible to prevent any delays in printing election ballots.

He said any other appeals dealing with other ballot questions this year also would be expedited.

The deadline for advocates of initiatives and referendums to submit signatures to county voter registrars is May 20.

To qualify a question for the ballot, proponents must collect at least 58,628 signatures of registered Nevada voters.

NRA and the Las Vegas Sands appealed after Senior Judge Miriam Shearing ruled the proposed constitutional amendment met requirements that it deal with only a single subject.

She also ruled the description of effect telling voters what the proposal would do was within the law.

The casinos have appealed that ruling but wanted the entire process expedited so it would be decided before the May 20 deadline for filing signatures.

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