Category Archives: Current Affairs

A Tax By Any Other Name . . .

Over the weekend, the Reno Gazette-Journal ran an editorial suggesting that it’s time for Nevadans to consider a corporate “margins” tax.  The Las Vegas Sun wrote that a coalition has formed to push for a margins tax via an initiative petition.  Unsuccessful legislation to enact a margin tax was considered by the Nevada Legislature in the first half of 2011, and was modeled on a similar tax enacted in Texas in 2006. The Texas Constitution is similar to the Nevada Constitution in that both prohibit an income tax on individuals.  Members of a limited partnership in Texas recently … Continue Reading »

Dawn of a New Era for the Veto?

In 2009, then Governor Gibbons was criticized for vetoing a record 48 bills (8 of those bills pertained to the budget), surpassing the prior record of 33 set in the 19th century. In 2011, Governor Sandoval vetoed 28 bills, putting him in third place for vetoes by a Nevada Governor. Much of the reason for the increase in vetoes can be traced to the fact that beginning in 2009 the Legislature was controlled by one party while the other party held the Governor’s Office.  That has only happened three times in the past 50 years (1967, 1979 and … Continue Reading »

The Name Game

Some eyebrows recently raised in Nevada when the majority Democrat leadership changed the name of the former “Committee on Taxation” to the “Committee on Revenue.”  But, the fact that caucus leadership may change a committee name is nothing new. For example, in Colorado the GOP recently took control of the state House of Representatives.  The change in control resulted in “energy” being dropped from the Transportation and Energy Committee, “labor” being dropped from the Business Affairs and Labor Committee, and “human services” being dropped from the Health and Human Services Committee.  Colorado Democrats immediately began criticizing the name … Continue Reading »

To Elect or Appoint Judges?

This fall Nevada voters will presented with a ballot question that would provide for the initial appointment of judges.  Currently, judges are elected and consequently need to raise money to fund campaigns.  The impact of campaign contributions on judicial impartiality, both real and perceived, is significant. The proposed reform would amend Nevada law to provide for the appointment of judges by the Governor from a list of candidates selected by the Judicial Selection Commission, followed by retention elections whereby the electorate can choose to retain or remove those judges.  Currently, judges are appointed in Nevada … Continue Reading »

Super-Sized PACs

An earlier blog post discussed the impact of FEC v. Citizens United on political expenditures in Nevada.  The Las Vegas Review Journal also ran an interesting piece on the same subject.  In the latest developments, the FEC issued advisory opinions that effectively allow corporations and unions to make unlimited contributions to independent expenditure committees (although usual PAC disclosure rules remain in place).  Although those committees are not affiliated with or allowed to coordinate with campaigns, the committees are free to make independent expenditures for or against candidates.  These so-called “super” PACs will undoubtedly be a force in … Continue Reading »

State Budget Relief?

With a projected shortfall for the upcoming biennium of somewhere around $3 billion, Nevada’s budget is in serious trouble.  However, the latest concept forfederal bailout money is aimed at providing fiscal relief to beleaguered states, by way of payments Medicaid payments that are otherwise a serious drain on a state budget. Under the Recovery Act, Nevada received around $450 million to help with Medicaid payments.  The current legislation proposes $16.1 billion nationwide.  Although Nevada’s ultimate share is unknown (and is of course dependent on the bill passing Congress in the first place), most will view any help … Continue Reading »

None of the Above

With many voters holding unfavorable opinions of both Senator Harry Reid and his challenger, Sharron Angle, more voters than ever may be checking the box for “none of these candidates” in November.  Interestingly, Nevada is the only state to give voters the option to vote for none of the above (although, voters everywhere can always refuse to cast a ballot at all in a particular race, a practice resulting in what is called an “undervote”). Nevada has allowed voters to select “none of these candidates” in all statewide races since … Continue Reading »

High Noon for the IFC

Throughout the past few years, tensions between the executive and legislative branches have been on the increase.  The constitutionality of the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) has been questioned by the Governor.  The IFC has been fiercely defended by the Legislature.  Those rooting for a legal showdown earlier in the year were disappointed as the constitutional conflict took a back seat to a special session and the primary election. But now, the conflict is boiling up again and the dynamics between the executive and legislative branches have changed dramatically from just a few months ago.  A … Continue Reading »

PAC Registration and Magic Words

Nevada is in the midst of one of the first high-profile election law cases since the United States Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. FEC.  A Virginia corporation called Alliance for America’s Future aired a pro-Brian Sandoval ad in Nevada.  (There is nothing to suggest the group is affiliated with the Sandoval campaign).  The Nevada Secretary of State filed suit and obtained a temporary restraining order. In Citizens United, an outright ban on corporate expenditures on political advocacy was overturned.  However, the Court left reporting and disclosure requirements in place.  In the Alliance matter, … Continue Reading »

The Impact of Apathy

An interesting article appeared today in the Reno Gazette Journal regarding voter turnout. According to the article, in 2008 there was a 59.9% voter turnout in the general election, the 10th worst state turnout in the country.  The 2008 primary turnout was even lower, with only 17.97% of registered voters casting a ballot.  I don’t know where that stands in terms of state rankings, but it sounds dismal. In 2010, the results of several primary races will almost certainly decide the results of the general election.  In the Governor’s race for example, polling shows Rory Reid defeating … Continue Reading »