Nevada Supreme Court will reconsider arena tax proposal

A Nevada Supreme Court decision about a proposed sports arena on the Strip was called back Tuesday in the judicial equivalent of an instant replay.

In an order signed by all seven justices, the court ordered a “recall of remittitur” in Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs v. Arena Initiative Committee, essentially recalling to the Supreme Court a case that had been sent back to District Court on June 19.

The case, which involves a proposal to ask voters to approve a 0.9 percentage point increase in sales tax on the Strip to help finance an arena on land owned by Caesars Entertainment, will go back to the Supreme Court for clarification of the previous decision.

Secretary of State Ross Miller sought the recall, saying the June 19 order gave conflicting instructions.

“Such clarification would promote judicial economy, avoid additional litigation and prevent delay in preparation of ballots,” Deputy Attorney General Kevin Benson wrote in Ross’ motion for recall.

The June 19 order, also signed by all seven justices, said the Arena Initiative Committee included “materially misleading” language in the information it used to get signatures to put the tax proposal on the ballot.

The court said the language failed to mention that if the measure were approved, it would effectively make competing proposals impossible.

But rather than deny the measure a spot on the November ballot, the court sent it back to the district level to clarify the description of effect.

After that ruling Miller argued for a recall by the Supreme Court because the normal result of a court ruling that petition language was misleading would be to block it from advancing to the ballot.

“Therefore, in order to know how to process the Petition, the Secretary of State respectfully requests clarification whether this Court intends that the Arena Petition should appear on the 2012 general election ballot … or whether the Court intends … to have its normal operation, and therefore the Petition would be invalid.”

Stacey Escalante, spokeswoman for the anti-arena group Nevadans Against Special Interest Taxation, welcomed the court’s decision.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to clarify its decision,” Escalante wrote in an email. “The fact that the court has previously declared Caesars’ initiative to be ‘deceptive and materially misleading’ is not in dispute. It will be interesting to learn why Caesars believes that the relevant Nevada law … does not apply in this situation.”

A spokesman for Caesars did not return a call for comment. Miller also declined comment, saying he wouldn’t discuss pending litigation.

The Caesars proposal is one of several for arenas in the Las Vegas Valley.

UNLV Now, a group that includes Silverton casino President Craig Cavileer and Los Angeles developer Ed Roski, is seeking to build a football stadium on the campus .

Aspiring arena developer Chris Milam has acquired the exclusive right to buy land in Henderson from the Bureau of Land Management for a potential project.

Officials in the city of Las Vegas are holding out hope Cordish Companies can deliver proposals for an arena on land it controls downtown.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285 .

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