Language for ballot questions finalized

CARSON CITY — Ballot language for two measures that Nevada voters will weigh in on in November was finalized Monday by the Legislative Commission.

The commission approved language for Question 1, which would create an intermediate court of appeals, and Question 2, which would remove the constitutional protections for the net proceeds of minerals tax paid by mining companies.

There was no controversy over the ballot language and arguments for and against passage of the appellate court measure. but lawmakers debated the language on Question 2, which is being opposed by the Nevada mining industry.

Approval of the question would allow the Legislature and governor to increase taxes paid by the industry, currently capped at 5 percent.

The ballot language was revised by the commission to read: “Shall the Nevada constitution be amended to remove the cap on the taxation of minerals, and other requirements and restrictions related to the taxation of mines, mining claims and minerals and the distribution of money collected from such taxation.”

One modification also was made to the arguments for and against passage after a lengthy debate. A sentence mentioning the tax rate paid by the gaming industry was deleted. Other changes sought by members of the panel were rejected. The changes were approved with Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, voting no.

The ballot language, with arguments for and against passage, is drafted by legislative staff in consultation with the public and interested groups. The information will appear on sample ballots mailed to Nevada voters this fall.

During the discussion, Hansen objected to a sentence that said when mining companies are finished with a mine, the state is left with a “scarred landscape.” Mining companies spend a lot of money on reclamation, he said.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, disagreed, saying the statement was factual. Roberson objected to the statement in the argument for passage that the mining industry ends up paying between 2 percent and 2.5 percent net proceeds tax because of allowed deductions.

Given the recent downward revision on the revenue estimates from the net proceeds of minerals primarily because of the lower price of gold, the number is much less than that, he said.

The panel declined to make any changes to either statement.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.