Nevada Mining Tax Cap Amendment, Question 2 (2014)

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Nevada Mining Tax Cap Amendment
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Nevada Constitution
Referred by:Nevada State Legislature
Topic:Taxes
Status:On the ballot
The Nevada Mining Tax Cap Amendment, also known as SJR 15, is on the 2014 ballot in the state of Nevada as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure would ask voters whether or not the current five percent tax cap on mining should be removed from the Nevada Constitution, thereby allowing legislators to raise taxes on mining activity.[1] A similar measure failed to make the 2012 ballot.

Background

A similar measure failed to make the November 2012 ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment.

Support

Arguments

Assemblywoman Bustamante argued that the measure is an opportunity for voters to decide whether or not they want to remove the provision from the state constitution. Assemblyman Daly also supported the passage of the measure on the basis that the state constitution has not kept up with modernizations in the mining industry. To address concerns of loss of mining business due to the changes proposed by the measure, he said, "The state won’t lose mining jobs because the minerals are here."[2]

Opposition

Arguments

Assemblyman Ellison opposed the bill, saying, “Just this one bill has the power to close many of the small ore mines around Nevada and can adversely change the way mining is done forever."[2]

Assemblyman Wheeler also opposed the measure and claimed that its passage would create instability in the Nevada marketplace and would "not create one job in Nevada."[2]

Lobbyist for the Nevada Mining Association, Tim Crowley, expressed the associations disapproval of the measure after the second passage of SJR 15, saying,

Passage of SJR15 will lead to significantly less state revenue to fund essential services and potentially disrupt revenue streams in rural mining counties as well. There’s no certainty if, how or when these revenues will be restored. [3]

—Tim Crowley, [2]

On May 2, 2014, Jim Wadhams, a lobbyist for Newmont Mining and the Nevada Mining Association, warned that the mining industry will challenge the measure in court, if it becomes law.[4]

Controversy

At a hearing of the Assembly Taxation Committee, the Nevada Mining Association claimed that if the repeal is approved by voters, the mining would be taxed under property tax provisions that limit the tax rate to 3.64 percent of the assessed value of the property. Deputy legislative council, Kevin Powers, refuted that claim by saying the taxes on minerals produced by mines would not be property taxes but as excise taxes that are not required to be uniform and equal. Wadhams, in return, cited opinions of the United States Supreme Court that consider the net proceeds of mineral tax as a property tax.[5]

Assembly Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-20) spoke against the claims made by Wadhams by urging Assembly members to be "smart enough and listen to your lawyer," rather than statements made by people "sent here to deceive you."[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Nevada Constitution

According to Article 16, Section 1 of the Nevada Constitution, an amendment proposed by the legislature must be approved by a majority in both the Assembly and Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions. If twice approved by the legislature, the amendment then goes to the ballot where voters decide whether or not to ultimately pass it.

SJR 15 was first approved by the Senate on May 28, 2011, and the Assembly on June 11, 2011. It was approved by a second consecutive legislature when the Senate approved it on April 1, 2013 and the Assembly on May 23, 2013.[6][7]

First Senate vote

May 28, 2011 Senate vote

Nevada SJR 15 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 13 61.90%
No838.10%

Second Senate vote

April 1, 2013 Senate vote

Nevada SJR 15* Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 17 80.95%
No419.05%

First Assembly vote

June 6, 2011 Assembly vote

Nevada SJR 15 Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 27 64.29%
No1535.71%

Second Assembly vote

May 23, 2013 Assembly vote

Nevada SJR 15* Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 26 63.41%
No1536.59%

See also

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