Nevada Mining Tax Measure (2010)

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The Nevada Mining Tax Measure may appear on the November 2, 2010 state ballot in Nevada as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure proposes remove the statutory deductions allowed to mining companies by current state law.[1]

Mining companies, according to reports, pay a higher property tax rate on the minerals they extract from the state, however, they are also allowed deductions for mining costs. Those deduction, initiative supporters argue, can severely reduce tax revenue to the state.[2]

Following a March 20, 2010 court ruling that called for the petition language to be rewritten, supporters filed a new initiative on March 22, 2010.[3]

Supporters

The measure is supported by an advocacy group called Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN). In February 2010 the Nevada State Education Association began running a television ad campaign that calls for the public to support the proposed measure.[4]

Bob Fulkerson, PLAN executive director, said, "We have an enormous need in our budget. One industry is recording all-time profits, and that’s the mining industry. Yet it’s paying next to nothing to the general fund."[5]

Despite a decision by the Nevada Legislature to charge a new fee on mining claims, Fulkerson said the proposed amendment is still required. Fulkerson argues that the amendment will remove the industry's "sweetheart deal that's enshrined in the constitution."[4]

Opponents

Mining lobbyist Jim Wadhams said, according to reports, the measure "is designed to shut mining down."[4]

Legal challenge

On March 19, 2010 the Nevada Mining Association asked a Carson City judge to block the proposed ballot initiative. Lawyers for the association argue that the initiative is unconstitutional and thus cannot appear on the ballot. The case was heard by District Judge James Wilson.[6]

Request for block denied by judge

Judge Wilson Jr. denied the block requested by the Nevada Mining Association but agreed that the initiative language should be reworded. The language, said the judge, should clarify that the recommended change could triple the proceeds tax on mines retroactively in 2008 from $92 million to $284 million. The change in wording requires that mining measure supporters refile the petition and start over on signature collection. However, the judge emphasized that according to the Nevada Supreme Court he cannot rule on the constitutionality of the measure because even if the measure does not appear to be constitutional, there may be a way to implement it in a constitutional form. Nevada Mining Association lawyers said they were "pleased" with the revisions and clarification of the initiative language.[7]

Petition language changed

On Monday, March 23 the judge ruled that the petition must include the following language:[8]

The Nevada Constitution provides for a tax on mining proceeds. Since 1865 Nevada has taxed net proceeds of minerals extracted in the state at a rate of not more than five percent. ‘Minerals' include oil, gas and other hydrocarbons, but does not include sand, gravel or water, except hot water or steam in an operation extracting geothermal resources.
This initiative amends the Constitution in two ways: 1) Taxing gross proceeds, rather than net proceeds, of minerals extracted in this state; and 2) at a rate of not less than five percent, rather than not more than five percent. The tax would apply without regard to the costs of extracting the mineral, including digging, removing, processing, transporting, labor, and other costs.
The impact of the tax increase cannot be precisely determined. The legislature's fiscal analysis indicates in 2008 the present tax generated $$91.8 million for state and local governments; if this initiative provision were in effect in 2008, the tax would have generated $284.4 million-a tax/revenue increase of more than 300%.
To become effective this change must be approved in two general elections. The earliest the additional revenue would be available would be in fiscal year 2013-2014.

Case heard by Supreme Court

Following the March decision by Carson City judge the Nevada Mining Association filed an appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court. The association maintains that the initiative petition violates the single subject rule by including two subjects: changing the Nevada Constitution and changing the tax rate. On March 31 the Supreme Court agreed to expedite the case. Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard June 7 in Las Vegas.[9][10][11]

Path to the ballot

See also: Nevada signature requirements

In order to qualify the measure for the November 2010 ballot supporters are required to collect a minimum of 97,002 valid signatures by May 17, 2010.

See also

Articles

External links

Additional reading

References