Special Session: Mining tax amendment passes Senate over strenuous GOP objections | NevadaAppeal.com

Special Session: Mining tax amendment passes Senate over strenuous GOP objections

Protesters rally against liability protections for employers relating to COVID-19 on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020 outside the Legislature on the second day of the 32nd Special Session in Carson City.
David Calvert/Nevada Independent

Over the strenuous objections of Republicans, the Senate Saturday passed the resolution designed to overturn the mining industry’s constitutional protections in Nevada.

The proposed amendment to Nevada’s constitution would not only raise the maximum proceeds tax from 5 percent to 7.75 percent and base it on the gross proceeds of each mine instead of net proceeds. It would generate an estimated $600 million a year but opponents say it could well put 40 percent of Nevada mines out of business.

“No industry can sustain a tax on their gross,” said Sen. Pete Goicoechea whose district includes major mines in northern and eastern Nevada. “SJR1 will destroy mining in Nevada.

He along with his colleagues urged the Senate to take the issue of mining tax reform up in the 2121 legislative session instead of trying to do it in a special session that’s scheduled to last just a week.

Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, argued the special session is supposed to be about dealing with the COVID virus but, “here we are trying to push out a major policy change.”

He also objected to the rules change that would permit lawmakers to process proposed amendment resolutions in less than three months that he said overturns 150 years of legislative process.

Sen. Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, said the bill will have a major impact on 3,000 rural Nevada families.

Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, said the resolution is just the first step in a lengthy process and that if the process isn’t started now, “when they get to the 2021 Legislature, mining will not be part of the conversation.”

She said it’s time for mining to pay a fair rate.

The proposed amendment was approved 13-8 and delivered to the Assembly where it was moved to the chief clerk’s desk.