Tax commission sued for open-meeting law violations | NevadaAppeal.com

Tax commission sued for open-meeting law violations

Attorney General Brian Sandoval has filed two lawsuits in Carson District Court charging the Nevada Tax Commission with violating the state’s open meeting law.

In both cases, the Attorney General’s Office charges the tax commission violated the law by closing appeal hearings, deliberating behind closed doors and then voting on the appeals without allowing the public or other interested parties in.

The first case charges the tax commission decided on its own to close a hearing into an appeal by Leisure Homes Corp. against the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. The closed-door April 4 hearing, the suit charges, “unjustly denied all persons permission to attend the defendant’s meeting” in violation of the state open meeting law.

The second lawsuit charges a similar violation a month later. The May 5 meeting involved Southern California Edison’s appeal of a Taxation Department decision refusing the utility’s request for a refund of taxes. Utility lawyers requested the meeting be closed to the public and the Tax Commission headed by Barbara Smith Campbell agreed.

Again, according to the Attorney General’s Office, the commission violated state open meeting laws by barring the public, deliberating in secret and then voting to grant Southern California Edison a refund in a closed-door vote.

Both cases ask for orders rescinding those closed-door decisions and ordering the hearings and votes be conducted in public.

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In addition, the lawsuits ask for injunctions prohibiting closed-door meetings on appeals to the tax commission and directing that the tax commission comply with all provisions of the open meeting law.

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