A parade of strange political bedfellows in support. One lone native tribe in opposition. And a notable lack of questions from lawmakers.
The optics during the first — and quite likely the only — public hearing on a long-awaited mining tax compromise deal alluded to just how orchestrated efforts have been behind the scenes in the waning days of the legislative session.
Assembly Bill 495 would create a new excise tax on gold and silver mining companies with more than $20 million in gross revenue annually, but attached to it are numerous unrelated provisions clearly meant to entice Republicans into voting with Democrats on the revenue bill. At stake is the fate of five potential ballot questions and millions of dedicated dollars for the state’s beleaguered K-12 education system.
AB495 was introduced late Saturday.
On Sunday, the penultimate day of the 120-day session, the bill received a hearing in a joint finance committee and was passed out of its Assembly committee on a party-line vote. It now has less than 24 hours to clear the full Assembly and the Senate before the session ends.
While presenting the bill, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas) called AB496 “a monumental compromise” that represented a collaboration between Gov. Steve Sisolak, legislative leadership, a teachers union, the gaming and mining industries, progressive advocates and other unnamed “stakeholders.”
Representatives from the Nevada Mining Association and Clark County Education Association presented the bill alongside Frierson. Several progressive groups, as well as several advocates from the ‘school choice’ world also did.
The lone person testifying in opposition was a member of the Shoshone-Piaute Tribe, who criticized lawmakers for not including tribal communities within the conversation.
Behind the scenes, negotiators for the bill were working to secure Republican votes for the bill. Democrats need four Republicans — two in each chamber — to vote with them in order to pass the bill to raise new revenue.