Senate takes up room tax petition | NevadaAppeal.com

Senate takes up room tax petition

The Senate voted Wednesday to handle the room tax initiative petition as a committee of the whole ” the same procedure used in the Assembly.

But several members of the Taxation Committee, including Chairman Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, expressed concern that would limit public input on the proposal. Coffin said he wanted to put the petition through the normal committee process to give the public better access to comment.

The initiative petition passed in Clark and Washoe counties by a wide margin in the November elections. It supports raising room tax rates by up to 3 percent in those two counties and directing the money to the state General Fund for the next two fiscal years. After that, the money raised would go to a supplemental fund for public schools. The plan passed the Assembly 35-7, including all 28 Democrats and seven Republicans.

Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said he wants to ensure, no matter what process is used, “that we make sure anybody who wants to has the option to testify.”

Townsend said testifying before the entire Assembly membership is just too intimidating for most lay people. He said the committee process is much less so.

No date has been set for the hearing but the Constitution mandates that the Legislature decide whether or not to adopt the petition within 40 days after the start of session ” in this year, March 13.

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