CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday he will ask the attorney general’s office to evaluate any legal risk to the state from a bill passed by the Legislature last week suspending tax breaks for energy efficient building projects before he acts on the proposal, likely on Monday.
Gibbons said last week he might have to veto Senate Bill 567 if it exposes the state to potential liability from companies building projects using what are known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
Gibbons said he received the bill Tuesday, but a review of which construction projects have qualified for the sales and property tax breaks based on the 2005 legislation was not expected to be completed until today.
Once the bill is received and the review is complete, Gibbons said, he will talk with Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, possibly on Thursday, about the measure to ensure there is no unanticipated liability.
“We want to do our due diligence to make sure we look at what is taking place now,” he said. “We see a rush by the Legislature to correct a rush by the Legislature in a special session in 2005.”
Gibbons has five days starting on the day after receipt of the measure and, not counting Sundays, to sign or veto it. That would make Monday the deadline for action. If he takes no action within the five days, the bill would become law anyway.
The Legislature passed the bill as an emergency measure last week after concerns arose about the potential effect of the property tax breaks on local governments and schools. The tax breaks can amount to up to 50 percent for as many as 10 years.
Gibbons said he does not want to expose the state to a lawsuit by companies that relied on the 2005 legislation to move forward with the costs involved with green energy projects.
One of the biggest already under way is the $7.4 billion CityCenter on the Strip.
Gibbons said his office asked the Legislature to “grandfather” in those companies already relying on the 2005 measure but the bill was approved unchanged.
“They didn’t want to put in a definition because they felt that definition would end up being part of a lawsuit as well,” he said.
Another challenge is that state agencies didn’t keep complete and accurate records, Gibbons said.
“So we’re having to put that all together now so we know who has complied with the statute, who has substantially complied and who has not complied,” he said.
Gibbons said he understands the point of the emergency measure is to alleviate budget concerns for schools and local governments.
“What I’ve got to make sure is whatever they pass doesn’t obligate the state to an expensive piece of litigation down the road,” he said.
The purpose of the 2005 legislation was to encourage construction to become less dependent on energy.
When the emergency bill passed the Senate, Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said, the purpose of the legislation was to give the Legislature 30 days to “take a deep breath” and examine the future fiscal effects of the tax breaks.
New legislation continuing the breaks in some form could be forthcoming before the end of the session, he said.2007 Nevada Legislature