Commerce Tax opponents need to have new language by Friday |

Commerce Tax opponents need to have new language by Friday

Acting as soon as he received the paperwork from the Nevada Supreme Court, Carson City District Judge James Wilson held a phone conference hearing Wednesday afternoon and presented both sides in the commerce tax battle with language to cure the high court’s objections.

The Supreme Court tossed the petition to repeal the commerce tax saying the Description of Effect didn’t explain its effect to voters — that the repeal would unbalance the state budget.

Over the objections of the RIP Commerce Tax PAC, he gave the two sides until Friday to submit any changes to his suggested language.

Craig Mueller representing the group seeking repeal argued opposing lawyers Matt Griffin and Kevin Benson were just trying to drag the process out as long as possible since petition backers were under a severe deadline to collect 55,234 valid signatures needed to put the question on the ballot.

The high court ruling eliminated the 20,000 signatures the proponents of repeal have collected during the past four months. Griffin pointed out to get on the ballot, they would have to collect more signatures in less time than has ever been done in Nevada. The deadline is June 21.

Mueller said Wilson “did a good job drafting (the language)” and he would accept it. He emphasized in getting new petitions and starting to collect names, every day counts.

“We’ve got a printer and a bunch of money,” he said asking Wilson to approve the language Wednesday so they can move forward.

If they wanted to avoid delay, Griffin fired back, “they probably should have drafted it correctly in the first place.”

Griffin said the two sides have been litigating the proposed petition since October.

“It’s the duty of the proponents to get it right,” he said. “They didn’t.”

Wilson agreed:

“It is not fair or reasonable to ask the parties to digest what the court has prepared on a Wednesday afternoon.”

But he said he recognizes proponents of the repeal petition have little time.

“I know it’s short notice but that’s the name of the game,” he said.

Wilson ordered both sides to submit any suggested changes in the 200 word Description of Effect by 2 p.m. Friday and be ready for a hearing to settle the dispute at 4.

The language in Wilson’s suggested description follows directly what the Nevada Supreme Court said, adding in if voters repeal the commerce tax, it would cause a net loss of $74.9 million in fiscal 2017 and another $59.9 million in fiscal 2018, unbalancing the state budget.

Griffin and Benson suggested the description should also state clearly the state constitution requires the state budget be balanced and if voters repeal the tax, that money must either be replaced or programs cut back to re-balance it.