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Nevada Senate pushes pair of marijuana tax bills

Two bills proposing differing methods for how Nevada should spend recreational marijuana tax revenue were heard Thursday by the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee.

Senate Bill 508 comes from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office and lays out the proposed 10 percent special sales tax all recreational marijuana retail sales, which Sandoval hopes will generate nearly $70 million for his proposed two-year budget.

Sandoval’s proposal calls for all of the revenue from the special marijuana tax to go to the Distributive School Account, the state’s education fund.

Senate Bill 487, from the education committee and its chair, Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, calls for the same 10 percent tax, but divvies that revenue up beyond education funding.

SB 487 would send funds to the education fund, local governments and mental health and substance abuse programs.

Roughly a half-dozen bills have been proposed this session that touch on marijuana tax revenue. That prompted Ratti to propose an amendment to her bill that effectively combines the SB 487 and 508, as well as provisions from the other marijuana bills.

That amendment calls for a 15 percent tax on the retail sales. Two-thirds of that would go to the education account, which would match Sandoval’s proposal, and the rest would go to local governments. It would also up the sales tax on medical marijuana from 2 percent to 5 percent, and those taxes would go towards mental health and substance abuse programs.

The idea, she told the committee, is to put all of the ideas floating around the Legislature into a single measure so that the committee can sift through the best ideas.

Marijuana industry lobbyists supported both bills. No one testified against either bill.

Because the bills would levy a new tax, they will need a two-thirds vote in both houses to pass.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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