• Senate Joint Resolution 15 passed committee unanimously

    Thanks to your calls, emails, tweets, text messages, and in person visits with your legislators, Senate Joint Resolution 15 passed it’s first hurdle on the way to the ballot in 2014. After testimony from supporters and opponents (the opponents were mining industry lobbyists) the Senate Revenue committee voted to pass the SJR15 unanimously. The resolution now will go to the Assembly Taxation committee for approval before going to a vote of both houses.

    Senators Roberson, Brower and Kieckhefer asked the most pointed questions, showing visible frustration that the mining industry could not, or perhaps just would not, provide the committee with straight answers. The mining industry refused to say if they were for or against the resolution, or if they would sue the state of SJR15 is passed. They indicated if the people of Nevada were successful in passing SJR15, they would stop paying the Net Proceeds on Minerals Tax, even though that tax is not only in the constitution, it is state law.

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    Senate Revenue Committee during the hearing for Senate Joint Resolution 15, a resolution that will remove the mining industry’s tax protections from our state’s constitution.

     

    During testimony mining lobbyist Gary Wadhams attempted to pass around a six pound rock with 26 cents worth of gold, but the committee wasn’t in the mood for theatrics. Mr Wadhams was there to make mining’s case against (but not really against, at least not on record) SJR15, but Senator Roberson accused him of misleading the committee. Assemblyman Ira Hansen also provided animated testimony, going after members of the committee for what he claims was rude behavior toward mining lobbyists.

    At the end of the day,  SJR15 moves forward, even when everyone told us it would never even get a hearing. PLANistas take home a victory, and Gary Wadhams has his six pound rock.

  • A message from Elko on SJR15

    Today Senate Joint Resolution 15 was heard before the Senate Revenue Committee. Supporters of the resolution to remove mining’s tax protections from our state’s constitution packed legislative hearing rooms in Carson City and Las Vegas.

    No one from Elko testified during today’s hearing, but of course that doesn’t mean no one is for or against the bill.

    The following is a message from an Elko resident in favor of SJR15. Many other residents of Elko have contacted their legislators asking them to support SJR15 so the people of Nevada can vote for it in 2014.

    Elko says pass Senate Joint Resolution 15

    Unfortunately, like most full-time parents, I will be unable to attend. However, like most full-time parents living in Elko, we want to see SJR 15 passed so the people of Nevada can vote, not for a new tax on the mining industry (which Sandoval opposes), but to remove the protections that the Mining Industry, primarily the Out-of-State Mining Corporations, have abused for decades.

    We have seen the Out-of-State mining corporations hold Elko County, and our elected politicians, hostage (Newmont and Barrick are the largest donors to Pete and John’s campaign); when bad decisions are made in Colorado, or in Canada, people in Elko feel the negative impacts of those decisions, in the form of mass layoffs (such as Jerritt Canyon’s mass layoffs in violation of the WARN Act, and Newmont’s recent wave of layoffs) or through other means, such as hiring freezes.

    Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 5.36.18 PM

    The Legislature in the last session was informed that the Mining Industry was not being audited, yet, Newmont and Barrick failed to disclose this to investors, in violation of the Federal Securities and Exchange Laws. Later, the Nevada Department of Taxation discovered, following an audit, that 3 mines had taken over $8.7 Million in illegal tax deductions, and that the results of their audit on Newmont was, and currently appears to still is pending.  People in Elko want to know the results of this audit. We believe it is crucial that Christopher Nielsen with Nevada’s Department of Tax is involved in this discussion.  .

    Pete Goicoechea went on record defending his campaign contributors, stating “said the field audits probably won’t find that the mining companies did anything illegal because the companies have “the best audit teams in the world.” However, as we have seen, the audits, which could only go back 3 years, turned up $Millions, and the Nevada Department of Taxation apparently hasn’t finished the audit on Newmont, which has been going on for more than a year!

    These Out-of-State Corporations basically control the economic prosperity of other businesses in Elko, due to the lack of economic diversity. They are not helping. Their donations are minuscule compared to the tax revenue that they would have to contribute if taxed as a gross proceeds amount, and they can pick and choose who the donations go to – taking the power of distribution out of the control of our elected officials.

    Furthermore, despite the mining industry taking $Billions of Non-renewable resources out of the County, and out of the State, so they can make $Billions in profit, Elko is plagued with increasing crime rates (due in part to lack of funding for law enforcement, and an increasing transient or temporary population), and decreasing public education standings (Nevada ranks in the bottom in terms of Public Education), due to the lack of tax revenue that they contribute under their current protections.

    The mining industry pays a measly 1% in taxes. Gaming and Sales Tax revenue make up 54%-57% of Nevada’s Budget,a nd according to the Elko Daily Free Press, Gaming revenues are down 12.5%, and ~20% even in Elko.

    Nevada needs to diversify its Revenue portfolio to hedge against times like this (when sales and gaming revenues are down, but gold prices are at historical highs), but without getting these protections out of the Nevada Constitution, Nevada is unable to diversify its revenue streams, and moreover, Nevada has to sit back and watch primarily 2 dominating Out-of-State Corporations send their profits out of Nevada.

    Again, we know that Passing SJR 15 does not create a new tax on the mining industry, but it rather allows the people of Nevada to vote if they want these constitutional protections out of the NV Constitution. Our representatives do not seem to understand that, so we are hoping the rest of the State’s officials do understand it, and can help us, and the rest of the State’s citizens have a voice regarding Nevada’s Non-renewable resources.

    Our Children’s future, and other people and businesses in Nevada, depend on removing these protections being removed. While Goicoechea, Ellison, and others who received significant campaign contributions from the out-of-state corporate mines, will surely be voting against passing SJR 15, we are hoping you can be the voice of Elko’s voters and encourage other elected officials to Pass SJR 15.

    Thanks,

    Elko County Citizens for SJR 15.

  • Sign up for Immigrant Lobby Days!

    Join the Nevada Immigrant Coalition for the 3rd Biannual Immigrant Lobby Days on Friday April 12th at the Nevada State Legislative Building in Carson City Nevada

    Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 5.42.21 PM

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attends Immigrant Lobby Days with the Nevada Immigrant Coalition in 2011

     

    Immigrant Lobby Days is an opportunity for immigrant and undocumented Nevadans and their allies to lobby the legislature on issues important to all immigrant communities. The Nevada Immigrant Coalition represents organizations and activists from around Nevada working together for comprehensive immigration reform, as well as protecting and fighting for the human and civil rights of all immigrant and undocumented Nevadans.

    Immigrant Lobby Days Schedule (all events take place in room 3100 of the Legislative Building)
    9:00am Welcome Breakfast
    Noon-2:00pm Luncheon with elected officials
    2:00pm – 4:00pm Lobbying

    Complete this form to register for Immigrant Lobby Days:

    Complete this form if you would like a ride from Las Vegas to Carson City and back:

  • Nevada’s AG says is time for DeMarco to go

    Last week Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto once again stood up for Nevada homeowners and victims of the foreclosure crisis and urged the White House to replace Edward DeMarco, Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

    DeMarco refuses to implement the White House’s principal write-down program for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed home loans; the program could prevent foreclosure, keeping more Nevadans in their homes.

     

    FHFA is critical because it oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which hold more than half the mortgages in this country.  Their purpose is to allow all people to access affordable housing, not just the wealthy.  But instead of people being able to remain in their homes, DeMarco’s actions are driving millions of homeowners into unnecessary debt and foreclosure. Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 2.49.00 PM
    DeMarco is a holdover appointee from the Bush administration. Five years after the big banks crashed our economy, DeMarco is punishing millions of homeowners and holding back our country’s economic recovery as he continues to oppose sound and fair policies that will help millions of homeowners and our economy.

    “Nevada has been devastated by the housing and foreclosure crisis.  Too many homes remain underwater,” said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.  “We need to implement principle write-downs by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  This is a critical step in helping our state recover from the economic slump.”

    Attorney General Cortez-Masto is seen as a leader nationally for her efforts to keep Nevadans in their homes by not just advocating principal write downs, but going after mortgage service companies and banks who victimize Nevada homeowners, and participating in the 50 state settlement to provide much needed relief to Nevada’s underwater homeowners.

    If you are an underwater homeowner in Nevada check out the Attorney General’s ‘Home Again’ program, to see what state or federal assistance you qualify for.

    You can take action right for Nevada’s underwater homeowners right now: Tell President Obama: Make Ed DeMarco call 10 homeowners a day and immediately nominate a new director to replace DeMarco. 

  • Ain’t No Court Supreme Enough To Keep Me From My Dreams

    On Tuesday March 26th the United States Supreme Court will hold deliberations on marriage equality, and at the same time, Nevada’s state legislature will hold a hearing to repeal Nevada’s anti-marriage language from our state’s constitution. PLAN state director Bob Fulkerson penned this blog with reflections on equality, how far we’ve come and where we’re going.

     

    This Tuesday I’ll have the honor of witnessing the Supreme Court’s deliberations on marriage equality. It got me thinking about the progress we’ve all made in the march toward freedom for LGBT people in our country.

     

    It’ll be 20 years in April since I traveled to the 1993 March on Washington for LGBT Equality. The Nevada contingent was mainly Las Vegans, but my friend and mentor Marla Painter (pictured) and I were part of the tiny northern contingent. After the march we gathered in Harry Reid’s senate office to ask him about LGBT rights.  As I recall we mainly discussed AIDS policy and workplace non-discrimination. Three years later, Harry Reid was on the right side of history when he voted in favor of the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act, which lost by one vote. BobEquality

     

    The same year we marched on Washington, Nevada became the first state since the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutionality of state sodomy laws to repeal its “infamous crimes against nature” law,  thanks to Sen. Lori Lipmann Brown’s courageous leadership ten years before the Supreme Court ruled Sodomy laws were unconstitutional.

     

    One of the things I love about Nevada is that we are ahead of the pack when it comes to LGBT rights.  We were the first of 13 states to pass enumerated hate crimes legislation (1995), but failed to include transgender individuals-which will be remedied in the current session. In 1997 we were the first of 11 states to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, again excluded transgender Nevadans.  Full spousal benefits to same and opposite-sex unmarried couples were adopted in 2009, making Nevada one of eight states to have “marriage in everything but name only.” Finally, in 2011 legislation passed to include transgender individuals in workplace discrimination, public accommodations and housing.

     

    Nevada’s had a rockier road when it comes to full marriage equality, overwhelmingly passing a constitutional ban in 2000 and 2002. Yet 11 years later, polls show Nevadans would vote down such a ban.  And we are pushing hard for the Legislature to repeal marriage prohibition and allow all loving relationships to be fully recognized in the Silver State.

     

    Back to that meeting with Harry Reid 20 years ago next month: His early support for LGBT equality closely mirrors that of Nevada.  In 2004 and 2006 Harry Reid voted against the amendments to define marriage as between one man and one woman.  (He voted for the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” in 1996, which passed the Senate with the support of 100% of the Republicans and about 2/3 of the Democrats.)

     

    Last year he bucked the Mormon Church and declared his support for marriage equality. And last month, Senator Reid expressed support for including gay and lesbian families in comprehensive immigration reform. All Nevadans, especially LBGT Nevadans, have been damn lucky to have Harry Reid going to bat for equality.

     

    So on Tuesday, 10 years to the day the Court heard Lawrence v. Texas, which simply made being gay legal, they’ll take up marriage. Between trying to replace my gazing daggers toward mean Justice Scalia with equanimity, all of these thoughts will be running through my head.

     

    Regarding the case on Tuesday, we in Nevada have more to win or lose than folks in most other states. (Check out this nifty chart that explains How the Court Could Rule on Same-Sex Marriage.) One possible outcome in the case is the court could find that same sex marriage bans in Nevada and eight other states that allow “everything but marriage civil unions” are unconstitutional. (Actually, I wonder if the Times folks forgot to update their chart and need to add Colorado, which enacted a civil union law last week whose marriage prohibition could also be ruled unfair by the Supreme Court.)

     

    The outcome of Tuesday’s deliberation is a very personal issue to me because the court could hasten or hamper the timing of when I get to marry my beloved Michael Perrier, my soul mate these past 7 years. Still, in the words of Tom Wilson Weinberg, there “ain’t no court supreme enough to keep me from my dreams.” The American public is solidly behind us on marriage equality. We’re never going back.

    Bob Fulkerson

    Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

  • Senate Renenue Committee hearing SJR15 Tuesday

    Senate Joint Resolution 15 will be heard Tuesday March 26th at 1:00pm in the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development.

    Contact the members of the committee and tell them to pass SJR15, just as it was passed in 2011, to the people of Nevada can vote for it when its on the ballot in 2014.

    SJR15 removes the mining industry’s constitutional tax protections and gives the people of Nevada a say over how the industry is taxes. Right now the industry pays between 1.5% and 5% on the billions worth of nonrenewable resources they take from our state every day.

    Contact the Senate revenue committee today!

    • Ruben Kihuen, Chair, Senate District 10, Clark: Ruben.Kihuen@sen.state.nv.us   775-684-1427
    • David Parks, Vice Chair, Senate District 7, Clark: David.Parks@sen.state.nv.us   775-684-6504
    • Mo Denis, Senate Majority Leader, Senate District 2, Clark: Moises.Denis@sen.state.nv.us   775-684-1428
    • Debbie Smith, Senate District 12, Washoe: Debbie.Smith@sen.state.nv.us   775-684-1433
    • Michael Roberson, Senate Minority Leader, Senate District 20, Clark: Michael.Roberson@sen.state.nv.us   775-684-1481
    • Ben Kieckhefer, Senate District 16, Carson, Washoe: Ben.Kieckhefer@sen.state.nv.us   775-684-1450
    • Greg Brower, Senate District 15, Washoe: Greg.Brower@sen.state.nv.us   775-684-1419

    SJR15 Hearing Details

    Tuesday March 26, 2013

    1:00pm

    Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development

    Room 1214 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson St., Carson City, NV.

    Videoconferenced to Room 5100 of the Grant Sawyer State Building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Las Vegas, NV.

    RSVP for the hearing Tuesday

    RSVP for hearing training Saturday March 23rd

  • Mining Oversight and Accountability Commission meeting

  • Supporting our community

    I get notes like this frequently from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) applicants whom PLAN’s own Rosa Molina has successfully helped navigate the system. But this one particularly struck my heart. When we can help people like this young woman succeed, our community and even our whole country is stronger.

    The contact information for PLAN’s immigration services office: 4385 Neil Road Suite 105, Reno Nevada 89502. Phone number (775) 236-0240
    Onward!
    Bob FulkersonKeeping-Fam-Together-Logo

    Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

     

    Dear Mr. Fulkerson,

     
    Thank you for the PLAN program you have on Neil Road in Reno, Nevada. I am glad to say that I am finally sending my DACA application today. I was lucky enough to have met Mrs. Molina. She helped me fill out my application and helped guide me. Thank you for the all the help you offer, thanks to this program I have an opportunity to fulfill my dreams in this country. My mother is currently in prison and all of our family was deported due to my mother’s involvements. We are forced to live with my uncle who is an alcoholic and can nearly afford to provide for us. I now have an opportunity to provide for my two younger sisters whom have no one but me. Again thank you for your program, it has brought me another chance to remain in this country.

  • Bob Fulkerson testimony in favor of The Education Initiative

    PLAN state director Bob Fulkerson gave the following testimony before the joint meeting of the Assembly Committee on Taxation and Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development.

    March 5, 2013

    TEI

     

    We have 2 choices.  We can raise the revenue we need to properly fund education, or we can remain on the bottom of the lists for educational outcomes and other indicators of a functional state.

    Our schools have been cut by $1billion over the past five years.

    And even before these cuts, our education and safety net funding woes were widely known, for decades. In 1950, Colliers Magazine put Nevada on the cover with this headline: “Nevada: Sick, poor fend for themselves, scant attention to education.”

    And, for just as long, we have had the solutions to these problems. In 1960, the Legislative Counsel Bureau released a voluminous study entitled “Financing State and Local Government in Nevada”, which suggested Nevada’s tax base was too narrow and stated: “From the standpoint of equity, there are significant elements of regressivity”.  The report found “the assertion frequently made in Nevada regarding a simple direct relationship between a ‘favorable tax climate’ and rapid economic growth cannot be defended” (p. 659). Most tellingly, it called for nearly doubling what was then called the “State Gross Receipts Tax” in order to broaden the tax base.

    Forty years after that study, the Price-Waterhouse study (“A Fiscal Agenda for Nevada”) found “Enhancement of a state’s economic competitiveness should not be equated automatically with low taxes” (p. 13). It suggested that “a general business tax could be designed to be compatible with the state’s economic development strategy of diversification” (page 13).

    Also of note,  the report stated: “The net proceeds tax should be supplanted with a severance tax on gross yield to reduce revenue instability and  insure all mines pay some tax to compensate for environmental impacts” (page 22). In that respect, we applaud Senator Roberson and Senate Republicans for coming out today in support of SJR 15 and in favor of more fair taxation of the mining industry.  But this should not cancel out support for the Margin Tax. We need profitable businesses and the mining industry to step up.

    Every session since then experts have debated and studied, with the results the same: Nevada’s tax base is too narrow and disproportionately hurts middle and lower wage workers.

    Last month the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) listed the ten states whose tax systems favor the wealthy most heavily.  Alabama barely edged out Nevada for number 10. If the temporary “sunset” taxes had been included, Nevada would have made been in the top 10 most regressive states.

    It’s time to promote tax policies like Education First that that promote the greater good and shared prosperity instead of further concentrating wealth in fewer hands.

    When the sales/excise tax share of family income is calculated, the lowest 20% of income earners pay 6.0% while the top 1% pay just 0.7% of their income in taxes.

    The Margin Tax addresses this inequity and regressivity head on by broadening our tax base.

    Our existing tax system has created a Donner Party mentality of primitive survival, even if it means sacrificing our children’s education. And our kids are on to us. At the Sun Youth Forum last year, 82 percent of Las Vegas’s brightest youth said they have no intention of living here as an adult.  What does that say about us as a state?

    It’s not just education that is suffering because of our state’s dysfunctional tax system.  Nevada is among the top three states where the childhood poverty rate has worsened over the last year; 25 percent of our children under the age of 5 live in poverty. If Nevada were to fix its regressive tax system, we could provide pathways out of poverty, including child care, heath care, nutrition and of course, education, and break this cycle forever.

    Nevada has the second lowest tax load in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. That might sound great, but if low taxes mean more jobs, why are we leading in unemployment?

    Nevada has fewer public workers per capita than any other state. Demand on services is growing, but the number of public workers is shrinking.

    Forced austerity by choking revenue through a dysfunctional tax system is a cruel hoax, as Robert Reich recently stated. Cruel because it hurts those who are already suffering the most, and a hoax because it doesn’t work.

    The worst thing a state can do in a recession is to weaken the public services that a strong economy needs, like education, health care, transportation, and public safety. If we don’t invest in our schools, put college out of reach for kids, if we fail to invest in our transportation system, then when prosperity returns we won’t be positioned to benefit.

    47 other states have enacted a tax on corporate profits. In surrounding states:  CA has 8.84%, ID 7.6%, Utah 5%, Arizona almost 7%.  And we can’t have a 2% margins tax?  Our prices are the same as theirs but they’re getting a whole lot more help in funding their state budgets.  We need to stop subsidizing other states.

    If we want to avoid having kids share textbooks, try to learn in crowded classrooms in old schools needing repairs, and if we want to keep our best and brightest teachers:  we need to fund education properly.

    The Margins tax and Education First breaks through the paralysis that has gripped out state for decades. It’s time to do something bold and I applaud the teachers for their leadership.

  • Nevada Mining Association tries to bully My News 3

    The Nevada Mining Association just can’t handle the truth.

    The mining industry is not happy about recent coverage they’ve received from KSNV, Southern Nevada’s local NBC station and their investigative reporter, Reed Cowan. They’ve lashed out at KSNV by pulling advertising dollars used to support programming that serves the people of Southern Nevada.Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 4.32.29 PM

     

    You can view the news pieces here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

    Station owner Jim Rogers sends along his statement, where he makes it clear: he will not succumb to mining’s bullying

    The following is his statement:

    KSNV NEWS 3, the NBC television affiliate for southern Nevada, station owner Jim Rogers reacts to Nevada Mining Association pulling thousands of advertising dollars after station airs investigation into their taxes paid. Rogers states: ”We don’t succumb to blackmail.“

    View stories at: http://www.mynews3.com/content/news/Special/Default.aspx

    Jim Rogers states:

    Last week Channel 3 ran a four part investigative series on taxes paid by international companies for the billions of dollars of gold and other precision metals taken out of Nevada.

    These mining companies and their lobbyists are upset about the series of news reports and therefore, the Nevada Mining Association cancelled several thousand dollars of advertising on Channel 3.

    Let me comment on their actions.

    We stand by the accuracy of these reports.

    The Nevada Mining Association is certainly free to buy advertising wherever it wants.

    But if the mining association was hoping to influence Channel 3’s coverage by bullying us, it didn’t work and never will.  These are the tactics of an industry that uses 1950’s bullying to get its way.  Those tactics would never have worked against us and never will. Nevada legislators too often have backed down on legislation that would have made the mining industry pay the true value to the state of Nevada for what it takes from the state.

    The bullying may get the association the results it wants from the legislature but the bullying will never stop us from reporting the truth.

    We don’t succumb to blackmail.

     

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    You can tweet a statement of support to report Reed Cowan and Station owner Jim Rogers by clicking the links below:

    Tweet a thank you to @News3ReedCowan

    Tweet a thank you to @JimRogersNevada

    Edit to add:

    Video of Jim Rogers: