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Vaughan, Watts trade barbs over mileage-tracking bill

A Republican gunning for a seat in state Assembly District 15 for the fourth time says he will “do everything to repeal” a 2019 bill sponsored by the incumbent he’s running against.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Stan Vaughan said in an interview with the Review-Journal, referring to a bill that allows the state of Nevada to collect odometer readings from the vast majority of vehicles as a future “mileage tax.”

State officials have said Assembly Bill 483 is part of looking at new ways to potentially fund highways.

There are no fees, taxes or fines associated with the bill’s pilot program, which runs through Dec. 31, 2026.

It was sponsored by the incumbent for Assembly District 15, Democrat Howard Watts II, who was first elected in 2018.

In an interview with the Review-Journal, Watts said allegations that the bill will lead to a mileage tax is “absolutely false,” adding that the bill was not limited to informing decisions about highway funding, but also for issues related to air quality and public health.

“I don’t know what the future of discussions on transportation funding is going to look like, but any assertion that that bill is somehow secretly creating a tax is false,” he said.

“It’s our responsibility as policy makers to make decisions based on data, and that is exactly what AB 483 did.”

Watts said if he were to be elected to his second term, he would continue to focus on environmental issues and smart water policies as well as fighting climate change, as well as building on increasing economic security.

“We can go out to Lake Mead and see how low the lake continues to be and water is critical for life for for us in our communities as well as for the environment so it’s important that we use that resource wisely,” he said.

To combat the downturn in state revenue brought on by the coronavirus, there will be budget cuts, Watts acknowledged, but he vowed to continue looking at the state’s revenue system and “creative ways that we can make sure that our key state services, which to me are health and education services, can be protected and restored.”

Watts said the next session will probably revisit racial justice and policing that were brought up this year.

“We’re going to have to evaluate how some things are working, where the gaps are, and then figure out how to adjust our policy so that we can do the best by Nevada’s families,” Watts said, adding that the last special session made it clear that the vast majority of funding already goes to support critical health and education services.

“Any substantial budget cuts are inevitably going to impact our education of future generations. And it’s going to impact health care, especially for those most in need,” Watts said. “I’m committed to looking at our revenue system to figure out what are ways that we can shore that up so we can provide those critical services for people.”

Vaughan in 2010 ran as an independent for District 15, where 50 percent of voters are Democrats and half of the residents are Latino. He ran as a Republican again in 2016 and 2018. In 2012, he led a movement calling for the secession of Nevada from the Union.

Vaughan said his accounting background would be a vital asset in the legislature, given the budget cuts expected due to the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.

Referring to the two special sessions addressing impacts of the coronavirus, Vaughan was critical.

“You should never let the government have control over an economy, and you should never ever shut an economy down,” he said.”You have people who don’t understand the economics, don’t understand accounting, and they’re making decisions that are not in the best interest of the state.”

The 75 proposals on his website include suggesting that the state barter or trade government-owned properties to cut down on costs, limiting availability of welfare and reserving prison space for violent and repeat offenders.

“I’m here to serve the people in this community,” he said.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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