Sisolak puts mining tax constitutional amendment on the table in special session

Nevada Assembly during Special Session
The Nevada Assembly Chambers before the start of the first day of the 31st Special Session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, Nev., on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday issued a proclamation calling for the 32nd Special Session to begin Friday. As previously promised by the governor, the session will tackle issues related to social justice, voter access, worker protections, business liability and the unemployment department.

But wait! There’s more!

The proclamation includes a provision that “if the Legislature passes any proposed constitutional amendments for a first time during a special session, the Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau shall immediately cause the full text of the proposed amendment in the form approved to be published in a separate printed volume of statutes.”

The line may signal that lawmakers — many of whom are keen on the idea of removing special protections provided to the mining industry in the Nevada Constitution — are aiming to do just that, and to do it quickly.

In order to pass a constitutional amendment, lawmakers must pass a resolution proposing the change in two separate legislative sessions, then the issue is kicked to voters as a ballot question. Normally, that is a three-year process, since the legislature meets only on odd years. A special session can be one of the sessions, but there is a caveat. The constitution requires the proposed resolution “shall be published” at least three months before the election that selects the next Legislature.

That means Monday.

Any proposed constitutional amendment passed and officially printed on Monday, Aug. 3 could be again considered during the 2021 Legislative Session, and if passed would appear on the 2022 ballot for voters to decide.

Laura Martin, the executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, which proposed and led a 2014 narrowly defeated ballot initiative that sought to remove mining tax from the Nevada Constitution, indicated the language is encouraging and she would like to see lawmakers take up the issue during the special session.

“Mining tax is the clearest example of the imbalance of power,” she adds.

The special session is scheduled to begin Friday morning.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the issues set to be addressed:

  • Unemployment insurance Legislation allowing the Employment Security Division “to contact applicants and unemployment benefit recipients by electronic mail and to expedite payment of benefits with good cause, among other potential flexibility-created mechanisms.”
  • Social justice reform Including revisions to 2019’s Senate Bill 242, which progressives have harshly rebuked.
  • Voter access issues Including “guaranteeing every active registered voter receive a mail ballot while ensuring a sufficient number of in-person polling locations” for the 2020 general election.
  • Liability protections related to Covid-19 claims for businesses and public institutions, an issue that may be the most contentious of the special session.
  • Worker health and safety, an issue that has been pushed by the Culinary union.
  • Remote participation during the special session.
  • Evictions Specifically, “alternative dispute resolution measures for eviction actions.”
April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and three mutts.