Special session resumes today

Legislative workers walk past the cafeteria at the Nevada State Legislature Monday, June 9, 2003, in Carson City, NV.

Legislative workers walk past the cafeteria at the Nevada State Legislature Monday, June 9, 2003, in Carson City, NV.

The question today is whether Assembly minority leader Lynn Hettrick can hold at least 15 Republicans to block approval of a Senate-authored tax package.

The Senate missed a two-thirds majority Saturday night by one vote when Carson City's Mark Amodei changed to a "No" because of concerns raised by big business that there was no cap on the total they would pay under a proposal to tax net profits.

When the Assembly version of a tax plan failed as well, legislative leaders and Gov. Kenny Guinn agreed lawmakers should take a couple of days off to regroup.

The Assembly and Senate return to work this morning.

Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he expects Amodei and possibly one or two others to change their votes, allowing passage of the plan after it is amended today.

That will shift the focus to the Assembly, where Democrats are trying to put together 28 votes for a tax plan. To do so, they need the support of at least five Republicans.

Dawn Gibbons, R-Reno, said she can support the Senate plan and believes several other Republicans will, too.

Hettrick said he has fewer problems with the Senate version than the proposal he and other Republicans successfully blocked in the Assembly on Saturday.

"The blend is acceptable, but it's too high," he said. "If I've got 15 or more who continue to say no, we'll see where it goes. Something will have to change one way or another."

The Senate proposal generates a projected $862.5 million over the next two years. Hettrick said the problem is, it produces $511.2 million of that total in the second year and even more every year after that.

"So it's really a tax increase of more than a billion dollars a biennium," he said.

Hettrick said he would like to see some sort of constitutional cap on how much state revenues and spending can grow each year.

He is hoping to continue blocking passage of a tax plan until Guinn agrees to some reductions in the budget that will allow lawmakers to slim down the tax package.

The key elements in the Senate plan are a 3 percent net-profits tax on all businesses, a real-estate transfer tax of $1.55 per $500 assessed valuation and a 10 percent tax on all live-entertainment admissions.

It also raises cigarette and liquor taxes, turns the one-time business license fee into a $100 annual fee, and bumps up the business license tax from $100 per employee to $170 until the new net-profits tax is up and running.


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