Both sides gearing up for tax hearings

Liberals and conservatives are planning to marshal their forces for tomorrow's taxation committee hearing, expected to mark the kickoff of the tax debate in the Legislature.

The Senate and Assembly taxation committees are meeting jointly in Carson City at 1:30 p.m., taking a break around 3:30 and reconvening at 5 to accommodate working folks who want to participate. The hearing will be videoconferenced to Room 4401 of the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas and streamed online at the Legislature's Web site.

The liberal group ProgressNow Nevada has sent an action alert to its members urging them to flood the chambers, both in person and with petitions urging legislators to revamp the state's tax structure to better fund schools and services.

"We expect the no new tax crowd to try to pack the legislative hearing to sway lawmakers against making any substantive fix to Nevada's structural problems," says the alert penned by the group's executive director, Erin Neff. "Please show up if you can and let the Legislature know that we will not let this process be hijacked by those with no new ideas."

Representing the "no-new-tax crowd," the Republican Party also sent an alert to its e-mail list today urging members to appear at the meetings.

"This is the moment to show legislators that we DO NOT want new taxes and be prepared to speak at the meeting," says the message from GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden. "Sign up to speak and tell your personal stories of how hard it is to make ends meet. Tell the legislators in your own words what new taxes will mean to your family or your business."

If nothing else, it should be a packed hearing room.