By JOHN RASCHE

Free Press Staff Writer

ELKO — A hearing for the proposed Senate Joint Resolution 15 revolved around one word: Uncertainty.

The Assembly’s Committee on Taxation discussed the mining tax bill Thursday afternoon with broadcasts to Elko and Las Vegas. SJR15 would repeal a provision in the state constitution that caps the mining industry’s net proceeds of minerals at 5 percent.

“It will create uncertainty for county revenues ... and uncertainty about taxes to the mining industry moving forward,” Nevada Mining Association President Tim Crowley said before the committee in Carson City. “... Some say we don’t pay our fair share of taxes — that’s absolutely true. We pay more than our fair share of taxes.”

Several community members met at Great Basin College to oppose the bill, but Elko City Councilman Rich Perry was the only one to speak before the committee via video conference because of time constraints.

Perry read highlights from a letter the city recently sent to the Assembly in opposition to SJR15 and Senate Bill 400.

“The notion that natural resource industries are protected from taxation by the State Constitution and are therefore protected from additional taxation is not true,” Perry said. “In reality, the Nevada State Legislature could enact additional taxes on the industry with or without changes to the Constitution.

“...While we believe that all Nevada industries should do their part, legislation that so drastically affects our state and local governments should be carefully reviewed and analyzed, so as to avoid negative and unintended consequences.”

Supporters of SJR15 argued that because of the state’s financial condition, the mining industry should be placed on the same level playing field as other industries in Nevada.

The provision in the state constitution was written over a hundred years ago, they noted, when Nevada’s mining industry was far different than what it is now.

“I know the mining companies think they pay plenty,” Las Vegas resident Marla Turner told the committee. “I’m sure every business in Nevada thinks the same thing, that they pay plenty. Yet, no one but mining tries to get out of their fair share by saying, ‘I haven’t had to in the past and I don’t want to now.’”

Michael Ginsburg, the Southern Nevada director for Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, called SJR15 something that has been used for “scaring our rural neighbors, brothers and sisters into thinking that they will lose their funding.”

The bill, he said, is really “about giving the people of this state permission to take and undo something the mining industry put into our constitution that is limiting our Legislature (from making) a decision as to how the industry’s taxed and how much it is taxed.”

Supporters of SJR15 spoke before the committee in both Carson City and Las Vegas. Assemblyman John Ellison and Elko County School Superintendent Jeff Zander were among the vocal opponents in Carson City against the bill. From Elko’s end, there was only further opposition to SJR15.

The Assembly committee concluded the debate between the bill’s supporters and critics after three-and-a-half hours. No action was taken.

(6) comments

JoMain

What is uncertain is how many layoffs may happen at Newmont? In Sept, Korpi blamed rising costs as the reason for killing NV jobs, although NEM NV finished $159Million Pre-Tax higher than the prior year. Now that NEM's production is down, and their CAS is up, dragging down their Pre-Tax income, due to Out-of-State managers' bad decisions, how many more NV jobs will be lost? Elko has Failed to diversify economy, so when Out-of-State MGR's blow it, Elko gets thrown under the bus. PASS SJR 15.

DEBoyd
DEBoyd

Gold's down. Production's down. Profits are down. Hiring is down. News of layoffs is in the air. There are no alternatives to mine jobs in place. Doesn't that make the argument *against* increasing tax burdens on this economy, not for?

JoMain

SJR15 allows voters to keep/remove the 5% cap in the NV Const., Removal gives NVLeg. the ability to adjust (+/-) taxes (uncertainty). Out-of-State Corps use NV's gold to fund their $B mistakes: Hope Bay/Zambia/Peru/Chile failures = inability for Corp to use profits/capital from NV to grow NV mines/jobs. Worse is NV giving away resources for ~1%; not enough padding in budget to incentivize non-mining jobs to come to Rural NV. Lack of Econ diversity L.T. kills mining-dependent NV when gold is down

DEBoyd
DEBoyd

What do you suggest for economic diversity that would support a County of 50,000 people in anything close to the standard of living they currently enjoy?

JoMain

Well, I am not sure all 50,000 people's standard of living in Elko is enjoyed. The standard of living goes away when the mines initiate layoffs, anyway. A large % of Elko's tax revenue is apparently derived not from mining, but from sales/property and gaming (room tax increased 15% w/out many complaints). Eureka greatly benefits from Mining taxes, but only supports a pop of ~2,000. Incentivize Oil & Gas, maybe auto manuf for Rural NV, beat Cal, join Eureka Co? http://tinyurl.com/NVAutoManufSJR1

JoMain

This might be a better link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/singularity/2012/07/23/the-end-of-chinese-manufacturing-and-rebirth-of-u-s-industry/

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