Protesters debate outside as lawmakers battle inside
June 26, 2003
Two very different voices of dissent showed up at the Nevada Legislature on Wednesday, both in opposition to the tax issue’s current status and to each other.
About 300 protesters participated in each rally.
The first was a rally calling for a “broad-based business tax that requires big businesses to pay their fair share in taxes.”
The second protest opposed proposed new taxes needed to balance the state budget.
Protesters from Las Vegas were bused by the Nevada Republican Liberty Caucus, which also bought and paid for transportation, according to organizers of the trip.
Robert Bigelow, a Las Vegas millionaire who ran anti-tax newspaper ads, promoted the event.
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The first group dressed nicely and kept their protest outside the Assembly Chambers.
“Take the burden off our backs, make Wal-Mart pay the tax,” went one of the chants, “Don’t let them get away, put the tax on B of A” went another.
James Cavanaugh sang a tax song with lengthy verses that made it hard to sing along.
“Is there time to save our reputation
As the most regressive tax structure in the nation
It’s with deep regret I am here to report
We’ve got no broad-based business support.”
The anti-tax group hastily donned matching T-shirts outside before storming the Assembly Chambers. They were asked to keep quiet on more than one occasion by Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, as they booed and murmured throughout the proceedings.
“Move away from the rail,” Perkins ordered the protesters. “What you are doing is creating a disconcerting atmosphere.”
Some tried to sit in the press section, prompting security to place “Press Only” brass signs on the desk.
The broad-based tax supporters included speakers such as leaders of the Nevada Empowered Women’s Project, and the Nevada AFL-CIO and the Nevada Disability Forum. Members of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, National Association of Social Workers Nevada Chapter and Nevada State Education Association also attended.
On the delay itself, Assembly Ways & Means chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, chided his fellow lawmakers to vote for taxes.
“You knew this was coming,” he said, warning “You don’t own these seats.”
Chris Giunchigliani, D-Clark County, described the current situation as a “regressive dysfunctional tax system.”
Joe Hardy, R-Clark County, pulled out a can of beans, read the ingredients, and joked about needing more beans and less pork.
Majority Whip Bernie Anderson, D-Washoe, hoped to have the courage to pass “that tax bill,”and said that “there is no tax package to back up the budget.”
“Our backs are to the wall; their backs (the schools) are against the walls,” Anderson said.