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Amendment puts pot tax bill back in line with governor’s request

Updated May 24, 2017 - 10:57 pm

It’s back to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s original 10 percent special sales tax for recreational marijuana.

The Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee held a short-notice meeting on the Senate floor Tuesday to amend Senate Bill 487, an omnibus bill that lays out provisions to tax and streamline marijuana sales in Nevada. The bill was scheduled for a Senate vote Wednesday, but lawmakers pushed it back to Friday.

The moves came after myriad proposals were floated in the Legislature that sought to change the amount and allocation of the tax.

The bill is crucial to Sandoval’s public education budget, which was closed last week by a budget subcommittee. Should the bill not pass, it would leave a roughly $70 million hole in the state’s public education fund.

Sandoval has called for a 10 percent excise tax on retail marijuana sales, with all revenue going to the public education fund.

Two bills from Democrats, however, laid out different plans for pot sales. Their proposals called for a higher tax, with some revenue going toward public education and some going toward things like substance abuse prevention and local government.

Sandoval, with veto power in his pocket, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in April that he wasn’t supportive of additional taxes going toward local governments, because they get a cut from the wholesale tax on cultivation and from local licensing fees. He added that he wouldn’t budge on his 10 percent going to education.

Tuesday’s amendment to SB487 puts the tax proposal component back in line with Sandoval’s: a 10 percent tax that would go to the public education fund.

The bill would also streamline recreational and medical marijuana regulation in Nevada by putting a 15 percent tax on cultivation for both products and transferring the medical program to the Department of Taxation, the regulatory body overseeing adult-use sales. Sandoval supports those regulatory changes, according to chief of staff Mike Willden.

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

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