In September of last year, Nevada State Senator Heidi Gansert was a guest columnist with Nevada Business Magazine. She explained how, in the last session, Democrats ignored the two-thirds supermajority constitutional requirement to pass two bills: SB 551 and SB 542. The first, SB 551 prevented the Modified Business Tax (MBT) from sunsetting as scheduled and made the higher rate permanent. SB 542 kept in place a $1 technology fee on all DMV transactions. The fee was imposed in 2015 for the cost of a new computer system. Five years, and a wasted $30 million later, and the system still hasn’t been implemented. But, that’s a story for another commentary. In this one, I’d like to really focus on the unconstitutional, illegal subversion by the Democrats to push through two bills during the last session.
By way of background, Nevadans amended the state constitution in 1994 and 1996 with successive landslide votes to require a two-thirds vote in both houses to pass any bill which, “creates, generates or increases any public revenue in any form”. Both the MBT and the technology fee qualify as public revenue. However, Democrats and the Legislative Council Bureau (LCB) are trying to argue otherwise.
The LCB claims that extending a tax’s duration does not represent an increase in revenue. Since common sense clearly says that continuing to raise revenue in this way, “increases any public revenue in any form”, I’d love to hear the LCB’s logic. I see one of two explanations, either they just aren’t very smart, or they have an agenda. Let’s assume they’re intelligent. The remaining explanation is that they have an agenda. Since the LCB is hired to represent all elected officials (both Republican and Democrat) on legal matters, they should be advisors not advocates. Why do they have an agenda in the first place?
As I mentioned, during the last Legislative Session, the Democrats blatantly disregarded the clear will of the people by passing SB 551 and SB 542 without the supermajority required by Nevada’s constitution. In response, Nevada Republicans filed a lawsuit to challenge the validity of these Bills. Our legal system has a process and, before the court can even hear the Republican’s challenge, representation for both parties must be decided. Interestingly, LCB attorneys didn’t see a conflict in defending the Democrats in court, despite their charter to represent ALL elected officials.
Understandably, Republicans objected to LCB representation of the Democrats in this case. In November of last year, a Carson City District Court judge ruled with the Republicans. The ruling dictates that Democrats could not use the LCB for defense and must hire their own council. Even though it seems fairly cut and dry, and is clearly a conflict of interest for the LCB, as of press time for this issue, the Nevada Supreme Court justices are revisiting the issue of representation.
CALL TO ACTION: Regardless of how this plays out in the court system, Nevadans should be furious that Democrats ignored the will of the people and did what they pleased during this last session. Who do they think they represent? Clearly not the business community, who was promised a temporary tax and ended up with a permanent one. Certainly not the people of Nevada, who made their wishes known with overwhelming support of the constitutional amendment to require the supermajority in the first place. I’m not sure who they are left with to represent, apart from their own interests and agendas. There is a reason “We the People” is held sacred in this country. A select few don’t get to decide for us. We decide our will together. Speak up and be heard. This is our state, our country, and we all need to participate in this process of governing.
By Whose Authority?
For more information on my Commentary and to see some of my backup research, or if you wonder why I take the position I take, go to www.LyleBrennan.com.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”