Assembly committee advances $712 million tax bill

CARSON CITY -- Democratic lawmakers on Thursday moved a $712 million tax plan one step closer to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, but the proposal still has several difficult hurdles to clear to become law and a deadline looming Friday.

After little to no discussion, the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means approved a bill that would delay the expiration date, or sunset, on a number of taxes that would otherwise disappear July 1.

Democrats, led by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera of Las Vegas, voted in favor and Republicans, led by Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, opposed.

Assembly Bill 561 now moves to the Assembly floor where Oceguera needs all Democrats and at least two Republicans to form the two-thirds bloc needed approve a tax bill and move it to the Senate.

"The art of getting this done is compromise," Oceguera said after the vote.

But so far Democrats have been unable to meet a list of five demands put forth by Assembly Republicans, a list that includes major changes to laws covering construction defect liability, prevailing wage, collective bargaining and benefits for public employees and education.

On Wednesday the Assembly Ways and Means Committee had a hearing that lasted hours and included dozens of witnesses, many of them lobbyists or from Democratic-leaning interest groups, testifying in favor of the tax bill in order to avert cuts to education and social services included in Sandoval's $6.1 billion budget.

The testimony, however, didn't sway any Republicans judging by their vote Thursday.

"I have heard it all before," said Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, R-Mesquite. "We can go on and on in here all day long but it wasn't these people who put me in office."

If Oceguera manages to forge a compromise to get the bill out of the Assembly by Friday, it would be unlikely to clear the Senate.

All 10 Republican senators have vowed to oppose allowing the sunset taxes to survive beyond July 1.

Sandoval has also promised to veto any Democratic tax bill.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at or 702-477-3861.