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Nev. Senate Republicans Announce Mining Tax Plan

But he said putting something on the ballot next year doesn't help schools now.

"If it's good enough to send to voters, then why don't we just do our job and do it today," Denis said.

Democrats, who have outlined an education agenda carrying a projected price tag of $300 million, have not unveiled their ideas for reforming Nevada's tax structure or closing loopholes to bring in more revenue. One idea being floated is an admissions tax to replace Nevada's live entertainment tax that is riddled with exemptions for large events like NASCAR races and outdoor concerts.

But there's more than one hitch to the new proposal hatched by Senate Republicans.

For one, it would be contingent on voters approving SJR15, a proposed amendment passed during the 2011 session to repeal mining tax protections in the state constitution. That measure this year has cleared the Senate and still awaits approval in the Assembly before advancing to next year's ballot.

Tim Crowley, president of the Nevada Mining Association, has said the mining industry has always been committed to discussing long-term solutions to the state's revenue problem. He calls the targeting of a single industry "short-sighted."

There's also the legal question of whether lawmakers have the ability to put an alternative tax question on the ballot.

Legislators didn't actually "reject" the teachers' tax measure. Instead, they took no action, allowing it to automatically go to voters.

So, does doing nothing constitute "rejection," thereby giving lawmakers authority to propose an alternative ballot question? The secretary of state, attorney general and governor's staff say no. But a top lawyer for the Legislature says yes.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican midway through his first term, has said he's opposed to the Senate blueprint to target mining. Assembly Republicans oppose it, too.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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