Category Archives: Current Affairs

Some Observations on the Call for the Special Session

Earlier today Governor Gibbons issued a proclamation calling the Legislature into a special session beginning at 9:00 a.m. on February 23, 2010.  Without rehashing everything contained therein, I did note some interesting aspects of the proclamation. 1.  No specific ending time and date is set for the session.  In the two special sessions in 2008, a specific ending time and date was established in the proclamation itself. 2.  There is no express prohibition on the consideration of new or increased taxes.  Of course, both the Governor and legislative leaders have said that taxes are off … Continue Reading »

The State of the State

Today the Governor announced he will call a special session beginning February 23 to address a projected budget shortfall of almost $900 million.  The Governor has yet to issue his official proclamation calling the session, where the agenda for the session will be spelled out. In his speech, the Governor pointed out the continuing economic woes plaguing Nevada and blamed the Legislature for raising taxes and failing to enact stiffer budget cuts in 2009.  The Governor took potshots at Senator Harry Reid as well, noting that Nevada came in 50th … Continue Reading »

Who’s To Blame For Losing Out On Mag-Lev Funds?

A proposal to build a high speed magnetic levitation train between Southern California and Las Vegas with the help of $83 million in federal stimulus dollars suffered a major setback when the application for those funds was denied. The political finger-pointing started quickly, with Governor Gibbons blaming Senator Reid for failing to ensure the funding and Senator Reid blaming Governor Gibbons for failing to ensure the application was submitted correctly. However, a closer look at the denial suggests that the denial was due not to political failings, but instead to the way … Continue Reading »

How Citizens United v. FEC Applies to Nevada

This week the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, issued an opinion with dramatic consequences for federal elections throughout the country and particularly in Nevada.  The Court overturned part of a federal law prohibiting corporations, unions and non-profits from using their internal funds to engage in campaign advocacy.  Although laws prohibiting corporate, union and non-profit contributions to candidates remain in effect (as do disclosure requirements), these entities are now free to expend unlimited funds to advocate for or against federal candidates. In Nevada, where United States Senate Majority … Continue Reading »

The Latest Round of Fiscal Projections

The Economic Forum is set to meet in two days to provide updated state revenue forecasts for the current biennium.  In an earlier post, I suggested that the shortfall for the current biennium could approach $400 million.  Since then, state revenues have continued to decline and at this point, it would not be surprising if the forecasted shortfall ends up being well in excess of $400 million, possibly even approaching $500 million.  With a fiscal hole of that magnitude, and the apparent lack of cooperation between the executive and legislative … Continue Reading »

Let the Legal Standoff Begin

Today, Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera penned a letter to the Governor. The letter is in response to a recent directive from the Governor to executive branch agencies prohibiting them from responding to legislative requests for information without the approval of the Governor’s Office.  Although the letter is civil in its tone, the inclusion of numerous citations to Nevada law make it clear that the Legislative branch is willing to engage in a legal fight if the directive is pursued. If the Governor’s directive stands, legislative subpoenas will likely start being issued, … Continue Reading »

Who Can Represent the Governor in a Lawsuit?

Over the last few days the Governor has threatened to file two lawsuits.  One would challenge the legality of the federal health care bill and the other would challenge the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s recent decision to refrain fromdrafting bills on behalf of the Governor at an upcoming special session. This brings to light an interesting legal question.  What happens if the Governor asks the Attorney General to file a lawsuit and the Attorney General refuses? NRS 228.110(1) states that the “Attorney General and his duly appointed deputies shall be the legal advisers on … Continue Reading »

Who Wants to Create a Budget?

The Las Vegas Sun ran an interesting story over the last weekend about when and how the 2010 gubernatorial candidates will unveil their specific plans to deal with a budget shortfall that could reach 40%.  The current budget, which is facing significant projected shortfalls of its own (see some of my prior posts about an upcoming special session), covers the biennium ending on June 30, 2011.  Resolving that shortfall will be a formidable task in itself. But the even bigger challenge will come in 2011 when the next biennial budget must be addressed.  Whoever is elected Governor … Continue Reading »

The Coal Case and the Impact on the Budget

In a post on December 30, 2009 I noted that the budget deficit could increase due to some pending tax refund cases, one of which deals with the taxability of coal burned in power plants in Nevada.  This particular case began in 2002 when Southern California Edison (Edison) requested a refund for use taxes paid on coal burned in its Southern Nevada power plant.  Edison argued that because coal could be subject to Nevada’s net proceeds of minerals tax it would be unconstitutional to also subject it to Nevada’s use tax.  … Continue Reading »

Baptism by Fire

The Associated Press ran a story yesterday called “Rookies will be  big factor in 2011 Legislature.”  The article notes that newcomers will hold at least 17 of the 42 spots in the Assembly, and at least 8 of the 21 spots in the Senate (with some allowances for legislators who avoid term limits and remain in the Legislature by swapping houses).  The story notes that the 2011 Legislature will be confronted with at least two enormous challenges:  the growing gap between government expenses and revenues; and reapportionment of Nevada’s legislative districts. The challenges in tackling those … Continue Reading »