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Gibbons signs final bills

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons on Friday signed a bill into law that revises and reduces tax breaks for "green" energy-efficient building construction.

The governor signed a handful of remaining measures by the deadline for action, and vetoed one other bill that would have allowed rural counties to levy a property tax to construct regional juvenile detention centers.

Gibbons also decided to let several measures, dealing primarily with the issues of taxes and fees, take effect without his signature.

Gibbons’ spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin did not have a precise list. But the measures included Assembly Bill 196, which removes contributions to fund the health insurance liability for state employees from a statutory cap on expenditures. Another was Senate Bill 154, which would allow Washoe County to put a measure on the ballot asking voters to raise taxes for school construction, she said.

Gibbons did not want to sign a few other bills related to fee increases because of his no-new-taxes pledge, she said. The minor fee increases were agreed to by lawmakers and those affected in the various industries, however. A list of these bills was not expected until Monday.

The green bill, Assembly Bill 621, does away with a sales tax break for all but a handful of projects that were approved before Feb. 1.

It also reduces a property tax break for all projects by protecting schools from any revenue losses.

A bill creating the more liberal tax breaks was approved by the 2005 Legislature. But concerns about the cost of the breaks, and consequences for local governments and schools, led lawmakers this session to reduce the benefits under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

Some projects that will lose the more lucrative breaks could sue, claiming reliance on the 2005 measure.

In an interview last week, Gibbons called the bill a good compromise.

"We’re still doing what we thought we would do, which is encourage energy conservation, and that’s part of being good corporate citizens, good citizens and good government," he said.

Asked whether lawsuits might be forthcoming, Gibbons said: "I’m hoping not. I can’t dictate what others will do. There are those, I’m sure, that will review the changes that the state has made and find that they have been either disenfranchised, in some way harmed by the actions of the state. Whether or not they choose the litigation side of this or not is something they will have to decide."

Gibbons said he vetoed Senate Bill 146 despite its goal of providing juvenile facilities.

"However this bill will almost certainly result in increased property taxes in several counties without allowing the voters in those counties an opportunity to have their voice heard," he said. "We must strive for solutions to Nevada’s problems that are not based on tax increases."

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