State senator may soon learn perils of piquing powerful mining industry

It’s early in the Michael Roberson era at the Legislature, and his political acumen is still being measured, but it’s already clear the Republican state senator knows how to start a donnybrook.

Whether it’s a fight worth picking is another matter.

The Senate minority leader leads a group of Republicans who announced this week a plan to tax Nevada’s powerful gold and silver mining industries. It’s a long shot that mimes the previous efforts of Republican businessman Monte Miller. If it were to survive legal and political challenges, Senate Joint Resolution 15 would change the state constitution and result in a tax increase on mining. It was offered this week for Senate Republicans as an alternative to a business margins tax proposal, which they called fatally flawed.

The abruptness of the announcement makes me wonder whether Roberson bothered to keep Gov. Brian Sandoval in the loop. Sandoval has myriad interests to balance and is, after all, a member of Roberson’s own party. (Word is he learned very late in the process.)

It’s also awfully early in Roberson’s promising career to be risking his reputation with the state’s powerful mining interests, whose representatives don’t take kindly to being blindsided.

It also makes me wonder whether the small army of mining and gaming lobbyists at the Legislature all saw this coming. I’m guessing some will have a hard time justifying their billable hours.

Roberson and the mining tax musketeers invite a recall effort that, while unlikely to prevail, could bloody them up at a time they would prefer to be fighting on other fronts. But surely they all realized the risks when they stepped out and challenged the mining industry while the Legislature was in session.

JONES’ EXIT: The Clark County School District is still buzzing over the news of Superintendent Dwight Jones’ sudden resignation, officially in order to care for his ailing mother. A leave of absence just wouldn’t do.

I’ll have more thoughts on this after I recover from the shock of the announcement, but here’s one small request for the exiting superintendent of the nation’s fifth-largest public school district:

If it’s not too much trouble, could you take your crony Ken Turner and his shameless $250,000-a-year consulting deal with you when you go?

MILLER TIME: Former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller’s memoir, “Son of a Gambling Man: My Journey from a Casino Family to the Governor’s Mansion,” is now out in hardback by St. Martin’s Press. With a foreword by former President Bill Clinton, the book is dedicated to Miller’s longtime political adviser Billy Vassiliadis. Miller also has the highest praise for political columnist Jon Ralston, who helped him with the manuscript.

Miller is scheduled to sign books at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Barnes & Noble store at 2191 N. Rainbow Blvd.

PICTURE THIS: Although it won’t make as big a splash as Miller’s tale, photographer Laurie Brown’s book, “Las Vegas Periphery: Views from the Edge,” is a remarkable work in its own right. With an insightful essay by Sally Denton, the book’s photographs will raise many questions about the nature of Las Vegas development and whether our grand boom town can once again stretch out toward the distant hills.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Are members of the Las Vegas City Council warming up to the idea of having city firefighters increase patient transport? There’s undeniable savings to the city, but it comes at the expense of private ambulance provider American Medical Response.

BOULEVARD II: Popular Strip entertainer Holly Madison, whose career has been assiduously chronicled by a certain all-seeing gossip columnist, just gave birth to her first child. Mother and little one are doing fine, but I lost my bet in the office name-the-baby contest.

My money was on … Norm!

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