(Chuck Muth) – In the last Muth’s Truths I noted that Republican Gov. Joe “Don Veto” Lombardo had kept his promise to never raise taxes by axing a gas tax hike, AB359. But that bill was SO bad it bears further comment.
To get around the Gibbons Tax Restraint Law – requiring a 2/3 super-majority vote of the Legislature to pass any tax hikes – the tax-hiking weasels in Carson City have found a sneaky way to circumvent the will of the voters.
By a simple majority, they vote for bills allowing local governments to do their dirty work for them. They’ve been abusing this loophole for years, and AB359 is only the latest example.
In Clark and Washoe counties, the Legislature previously extended to county commissions the power to also raise taxes by a 2/3 super-majority – which in Clark in no problem, as all seven members are Democrats.
One such tax hike a few years ago allowed Clark County to hike what is already one of the highest gas taxes in the country automatically every year through January 1, 2027. The law also stipulates that any further extension of the tax hike MUST be approved by a vote of the people.
I oppose this tax hike, of course. And any such decision on extending it absolutely should be left to those of us who will have to pay the higher prices at the pump. But tax-hiking legislators hate that idea because they know voters would tell ‘em to pound sand.
If signed into law, Clark County commissioners could extend the gas tax hike themselves and tell the voters, “YOU pound sand.”
The bill passed in the Assembly 32-10, with tax-hiking Republicans Bert Gurr, Melissa Hardy, Brian Hibbetts, and Greg Koenig giving aid and comfort to the Democrats by making it “bipartisan.”
In the Senate it passed 15-5, with tax-hiking Republicans Carrie Buck, Pete Goicoechea, and Scott Hammond giving the D’s the “bipartisan” cover they so desperately crave.
And as a side note, not one of those tax-hiking Republicans signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising us they would “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
Any Republican who refuses to ink the Pledge is a tax-hiker just waiting to happen. Remember that when you go to the polls next year.
Anyway, the bill landed on Gov. Lombardo’s desk with a dead cat thud. To which Joe Don Veto subsequently honored his promise to never raise taxes, drove a stake through its heart, and told the sneaky little tax hikers to pound sand.
Ah, the difference a Republican governor makes!
Swamp Creatures Attack Swamp Coolers
Also on the chopping block this weekend was AB97, introduced by tax-hiking RINO Assemblywoman Melissa Hardy…
The bill would allow the government to ban the “use” of swamp coolers in homes, businesses, and offices so those of us who have them – to save money on our outrageously high electric bills – would be forced to use air conditioners.
Amazingly, the bill passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously.
Fortunately, we now have a governor whose top priority is protecting the citizens of Nevada from such government overreach. He gave it the ol’ heave-ho.
“The bill would not only allow a government entity to prohibit the use of such systems in the future,” Gov. Lombardo wrote in his veto message to Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager, “but would potentially require the removal of such a system already in place.”
“For these reasons,” he concluded, “I veto this bill and return it to you without my signature or approval.”
Now the big question…
Will legislative Republicans in the Senate vote to sustain the governor’s veto of this “outrageous cost-burden” on Nevadans? If not, take names.
Nominee for Most Insane Bill of the Session
Which brings me to AB253, one of the absolutely worst bills still making its way through the Legislature. Not surprisingly, it’s a “social equity bill.” It’s also a 2/3 bill because it includes tax hikes.
The bill creates a new business entity called “cannabis concierge.”
What it does is allow such folks to buy marijuana from a legal pot dispensary and then re-sell it in a temporary “pop-up” booth or tent at large events, such as the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) or even your local county fair.
This is insane.
Legal marijuana dispensaries aren’t allowed to do this themselves, even though they’ve spent millions of dollars getting their businesses opened and jumped though more hoops to get approved than it takes to get a gaming license.
They also have rigid screening systems in place to assure weed isn’t sold to anyone under 21 years of age.
Indeed, anyone under 21 can’t even enter their buildings. But these pop-up pot booths can be operated at events where 18-year-olds, and even children, are allowed to attend.
Anyone wanna guess how many 18-year-olds will pass muster from a “cannabis concierge” with weaker, if not non-existent, security at an EDC concert?
And what are the odds that said concierges will opt to illegally purchase their products from the cheaper “black market” rather than pay the high taxes imposed by a legal dispensary?
I’d guess…100 percent.
Hang on. It gets worse…
Legal dispensaries are required to spend a small fortune on indoor air filtration systems to open a “consumption lounge” on their premises where people can legally smoke weed.
But this bill allows people “to consume cannabis or cannabis products in an area designated for that activity at a temporary cannabis event.”
Because, like, you know, the smell of weed could never waft over kids riding a Ferris wheel when the wind kicks up over a pop-up tent, right?
Have I mentioned this bill is insane?
Look, I’m a libertarian on this issue. Live and let live. If I had it my way, the sale and consumption of marijuana would be totally legal as long as you’re not bothering anyone else or driving under the influence.
However, the voters of Nevada decided it must be regulated and taxed like alcohol. So there you go.
The justification for this insanity is that the first five such concierge licenses would be restricted to “social equity applicants,” and the following 16 licenses would alternate between social equity applicants and non-social equity applicants.
Oh, and the cost for a license for a non-social equity applicant will be $5,000 while social equity applicants will only have to pay $2,500. Totally fair, right?
This insane bill should have been DOA – dead on arrival – in the Legislature. But the Democrats have the 2/3 majority they need in the Assembly, so it passed.
Amazingly, it did so with the Republican vote of tax-hiking Assemblyman Brian Hibbetts, a RETIRED POLICE SERGEANT whose campaign website claims, laughably, that he’s “committed to keeping our communities safe.”
What the hell is THIS guy smoking?
If – and that’s a big if – all elected Republicans in the Senate vote against this bill, it won’t reach the governor’s desk. But if even one of them “pulls a Hibbett,” here’s hoping Gov. Don Veto snuffs it out.
To wrap up for now, a note of clarification…
In the last edition of Muth’s Truths, I noted that the record for the most vetoes in a single session was 48. What I failed to note was that the record is held by former conservative Gov. Jim Gibbons.
My apologies for not giving credit where due. Now…
What are the odds Gov. Lombardo – at press time sitting at 26 – crushes that record this session? I’ll set the over/under at 60. Place your bets!
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“I don’t understand much about politics…” – Liberal blubber-blogger Jon Ralston, 1/2/20
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.