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RoboTax’s Stunning Passage: Who Screwed the Taxpayers?

Unless I’ve been misinformed, RoboTax…a bill to extend temporary voter-approved tax hikes for school construction without letting the voters themselves vote on the extension…has been approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor.

As I know some members of the Assembly are waiting for this, let me state that it is my opinion that a vote now on SB119 is no longer an effort to increase taxes and would NOT be a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. 

Let me explain…

WARNING: If you have a weak stomach and sausage-grinding makes you physically ill, read no further!

SB119 was passed in the Nevada State Senate.  It included two parts…

The first part provided local school districts with the ability to automatically extend voter-approved 10-year bonds, backed by temporary property tax hikes, for the purpose of school construction.

The second part of the bill repealed a provision in state law – “prevailing wage” – requiring the payment of inflated union wages on the construction of those school projects.

The bill passed in the Senate – with all Republicans voting in favor.  And all Democrats voting in opposition because of the prevailing wage poison pill.

The bill then was sent over to the lower house where a number of Republicans wanted to vote to gut the prevailing wage law and felt that was sufficient enough reason to take away the right of taxpayers to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to extend the 10-year billion dollar property tax hikes.

But as I tried to explain over and over, just because you add a little sugar to a cup of coffee doesn’t mean it’s not still a cup of coffee.

And just because you add a prevailing wage repeal provision to a billion dollar tax hike doesn’t mean it’s not still a billion dollar tax hike and a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Anyway, SB119 came up for a vote in committee in the Assembly this week.  And conservative Assemblyman John Moore voted with the Democrats to kill it.

The Democrats wanted to kill it because of the prevailing wage provision.  Assemblyman Moore wanted to kill it because it was a billion dollar property tax increase that bypassed the voters who approved it in the first place.  And with Moore’s vote, the bill died in committee.

Assemblyman Moore is a Taxpayer Hero in this story.

But liberal Republicans who wanted this tax hike were ENRAGED.

In fact, liberal Assembly Republican Majority Leader Paul Anderson called Moore out of his committee meeting and paraded him to a nearby stairwell where he, literally, read the freshman conservative the proverbial “riot act.”

According to a complaint later filed by Moore with legislative police, Anderson got in his face, “pointing his finger at me,” and declaring, “You are done, dead, you’re finished!”

As Moore tried to leave the stairwell, Anderson reportedly slammed the door shut and “stood in front of the door and would not let me out.”

Assemblyman Anderson is a bully.  And a Taxpayer Zero in this story.

After filing his complaint with legislative police, Moore returned to his committee and the committee held a new vote on SB119.  This time, instead of voting to pass the bill, the committee voted to simply send it to the full Assembly for consideration without a recommendation one way or the other.

Once the bill got to the full Assembly, a new plan was going to be pushed by conservative Republicans to add the Joeck’s Amendment.

Named after conservative stalwart Victor Joeck’s of the Nevada Policy Research Institute who originally proposed it, the Joeck’s amendment would have extended the temporary property tax hikes only until November 2016 when the voters who voted on the original tax hikes would be afforded the opportunity to vote on whether or not to extend them an additional 10 years.

While this short extension would have technically been an effort to increase taxes temporarily, in reality it was an effort to let the taxpayers themselves make the ultimate decision in the next scheduled election.  As such, we wouldn’t have raised a stink about it and wouldn’t have rated the bill.

Victor Joecks is a Taxpayer Hero.

Enter Senate Field Marshall Moderate Mike Roberson

The last thing Roberson – a RINO’s RINO (Republican in Name Only) – wanted was to let the people who would have to pay the billion dollar tax hike have a say on the billion dollar tax hike.  Especially since those taxpayers have been consistently voting down similar tax hike proposals over recent years.

So deciding that the definition of an “emergency” is whatever he says it is, Roberson introduced on Wednesday a new bill, SB207, which would automatically extend the bond rollovers – the RoboTax – but without the prevailing wage provision that Democrats so virulently opposed.

As an “emergency” bill, no committee hearing was conducted in the Senate.  Instead, SB207 went straight to a vote on the floor.  And now that it was nothing more than a straight-up tax hike, every Democrat voted for it.

Only four Republicans voted against the RoboTax 2.0.  The Taxpayer Heroes on this one were Sens. Don Gustavson, Pete Goicoechea, Mark Lipparelli and James Settelmeyer.

To be fair, however, those four did, in fact, vote for RoboTax 1.0, so their record isn’t exactly pristine in this mess.  The four thought that adding a little sugar to coffee meant the coffee was no longer coffee.

The Republican Taxpayer Zeroes who voted for RoboTax 1.0 AND 2.0 in the Senate were Moderate Mike Roberson, Greg Brower, Patricia Farley, Becky Harris, Scott Hammond, Joe Hardy and Ben Kieckhefer.

So SB207 moved over to the Assembly…where Republican Assembly Speaker-of-the-Weak John Hambrick, if he had any balls, would have killed the bill by simply exercising his Speaker powers to prevent the bill from even coming up for a vote.

And that would have allowed a vote on the conservative alternative with the Joeck’s amendment.

But no.  In violation of his written and signed Taxpayer Protection Pledge to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes,” Hambrick not only allowed SB207 to come up for a vote on the Assembly floor, he actually voted for it!

Hambrick is a Taxpayer Zero. 

Let the recall continue…with renewed vigor!

Of course, without the prevailing wage poison pill, all 17 Assembly Democrats also voted for the new bill.

And nine other Republicans in the Assembly also voted for SB207.  They were Paul Anderson, Derek Armstrong, Pat Hickey (of course), Randy Kirner, Erv Nelson, Victoria Seaman (breaking her own Tax Pledge), Stephen Silberkraus, Lynn Stewart and Melissa Woodbury.

Taxpayer Zeroes all.

Now here’s the thing…

I’m told the governor has signed SB207 into law even though it wasn’t reflected on the Legislature’s website this morning at the time I wrote this.  And if so…

I’ve been told by Victor Joecks’s that it’s the position of legal counsel at the Legislative Counsel Bureau that if the Assembly now votes to pass SB119, which has already been passed by the Senate, the property tax hike portion of the bill is now, essentially, null and void with the passage and approval of SB207.

As such, a vote on SB119 now is effectively ONLY on the prevailing wage portion of the bill.

So conservatives and Tax Pledge signers in the Assembly can now vote FOR SB119 with a clear conscience.

If approved by the Assembly, it would then go to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his signature. And it will be VERY interesting to see if “America’s Worst Governor” signs a pure prevailing wage repeal law.

I’m betting he won’t.  Once a RINO, always a RINO.

Make no mistake.  This RoboTax issue was a tough one.  And tough votes don’t make conservatives; they reveal them.

It was no accident that Victor Joecks was Citizen Outreach’s “Conservative Rising Star” award recipient a couple years ago.  This is one sharp guy.

And Assemblyman Moore just made himself a leading contender for this year’s “Conservative of the Year” award.

Now if you’ll pardon me, my daughter Jenna and I are heading down to the docks at San Diego harbor for a little whale-watching excursion this morning.  Carry on, legislators…


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