Not long after the offices of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General publicly agreed that there can be no ballot alternative to the margins tax because the legislature did not properly reject it, the Senate Six put out the following press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 2, 2013
CONTACT: Jodi Stephens
Senators Roberson, Kieckhefer, Hardy, Brower, Hammond and Hutchison Reaffirm Constitutional Authority of the Legislature
History has demonstrated that separation of powers is fundamental to our system of government under the Nevada Constitution. Any attempt by the executive branch to usurp legislative authority in areas specifically reserved to the legislature–including the various means by which legislation may be approved or rejected–is inappropriate and constitutionally suspect. With these principles in mind, we have reviewed the legal arguments of the Office of the Governor, which boil down to about a page of legal analysis. We have also reviewed the half-page response of the secretary of state’s office containing no legal analysis after spending one business day considering the opinion offered by the governor’s office. The secretary of state refers to “consultation” with the attorney general’s office, but presents no legal analysis from the attorney general.
We remain highly confident in the legal opinion of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, which has analyzed legislative and constitutional arguments for decades for both Republican and Democratic legislators. LCB’s opinion that the Legislature is not required to take specific legislative action to reject the margins tax initiative is carefully researched, well reasoned, and persuasive. Indeed, LCB has specifically stated in response to the executive branch’s recent position, “if the Legislature proposes and passes a competing legislative measure under Article 19, Section 2(3), all state executive branch officers must presume that the competing measure is constitutional, they must treat it as a valid legislative measure and they must perform their constitutional and statutory duties based on that presumption unless and until the judicial branch declares otherwise.” (Emphasis added.)
We are encouraged by the overwhelming bipartisan passage of Senate Joint Resolution 15 by the Senate this week and invite again our Democratic colleagues to join in crafting legislation outlining mining tax reform to serve as a competing measure to the ill-conceived margins tax in the 2014 general election. The margins tax has received strong, bipartisan opposition among legislators. We remain committed to giving voters a choice about how to generate more revenue to fund education for the children of Nevada. Despite what we view as incomplete, unsupported, and unpersuasive opinions expressed by those outside the legislative branch of government, the Legislature has the authority to approve, by statute, an alternative measure that competes with the fatally flawed margins tax with the measure receiving the most votes becoming law if passed by a majority of voters. We believe that voters should be given the opportunity to pursue that course.
Emphasis added, indeed.
It is not often that a group of lawmakers so publicly thumbs its collective nose at a governor, and it is really Something to see this kind of Republican on Republican violence-by-missive.
Will the Gov/SOS/AG opinion be enough to scare off the fence-sitters and wait-and-seers such that a mining tax ballot alternative is dead? Or will the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s opinion that a rejection vote wasn’t needed be a cup of courage for those lawmakers who would like to give voters a choice other than the margins tax?
And if the mining tax as a ballot measure is dead, what happens next? Will the Governor’s move so pique a motivated Michael Roberson that he engineers another plan to create revenue for education funding? And will enough Democrats sign on to override a Sandoveto?
Can’t wait to find out.