UPDATE: WE DECIDE COALITION
The We Decide Coalition, a project of Citizen Outreach, continues to research the options and viability for a citizen referendum on the $1.4 billion tax hike Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature just shoved down our throats.
I know many of you are champing at the bit to get started and sign the petition, but the earliest a signature drive can begin is August 1st, and there are still a pair of big, unanswered questions that need to be resolved.
One centers around donor disclosure.
The names of donors are fully disclosed for Political Action Committee (PACs), but are not disclosed for IRS-approved 501(c)(4) organizations, which are allowed to advocate for and against legislation.
Here’s an example of why this is so important…
Early in the 2015 legislative session, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce commissioned a study that determined that the governor’s proposed gross receipts tax was a terrible idea.
Sandoval’s angry reaction to that study proved to be extremely damaging to the Chamber, which ended up disassociating itself from its own study and sitting pretty much on the sidelines for the remainder of the session.
Political retribution is real and can be devastating to a business or individual.
Can you just imagine what the governor and his minions would do to anyone or any business that attempts to financially support a repeal effort to the tax hike?
So, yes, donors to the effort would be best protected if they can give to a 501(c)(4) non-profit group which is legally allowed to advocate for and against legislation.
However, Nevada’s Legislature passed a statute that requires donor disclosure of c-4’s in certain cases even though they are not required to disclose by the IRS.
It’s a chilling law that absolutely infringes on free speech rights. It’s a law Citizen Outreach fought all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court last year. And even though we won on, essentially, a technicality, no c-4 wants to risk being forced by the courts to disclose the identities of its donors who absolutely would be vulnerable to political and financial retribution.
So that’s the big question: What activities by non-profit organizations would trigger donor disclosure and when?
The second big question revolves around exactly what can be put forward as a referendum to the citizens of Nevada.
While the Legislature lumped multiple tax hikes into one bill, the tax hikes are embedded in multiple statutes. And Article 19 of the Constitution allows for a referendum on “a statute or resolution.”
Because a strict reading of the state’s single-subject rule unfairly only applies to citizen initiatives, not legislative bills, the question becomes: Can a referendum be held on the entire tax package, or does there need to be a separate referendum on each separate tax hike that appears in a different statute?
There’s also a financial component to this. You see, by law the entire item being put forward on the referendum must be printed and attached to the petitions used to gather signatures. And that tax-hike bill is over 100 pages long!
That’s gonna be a huge printing expense.
Now, none of these challenges are serious enough to stop a referendum from moving forward, but they must be resolved before a referendum can move forward. And that’s where things are today.
That said, it is inevitable that some portion of the referendum, especially anything dealing with express advocacy for passage of it once it makes it on the ballot, will have to be funded by a PAC set up for that specific purpose.
And as of today, the three individuals who have been recruited to head up that as-yet-unformed PAC are three well-known fiscal conservatives with lots of combined government experience…
- Nevada State Controller Ron Knecht
- Former Nevada State Assemblyman Ed Goedhart
- Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers
Again, don’t expect the PAC to be set up and begin operations until the two big questions outlined above have been vetted by various attorneys, but “The Three Amigos” have no fear of Gov. Sandoval and the GOP establishment and are unlikely to be scared off or bought off of the referendum.
In the meantime, grassroots activists such as yourselves should continue to talk about this project and keep the flames of outrage over the tax hikes fanned so that when the petitions finally hit the streets, they’ll be filled out VERY quickly.
CLICK HERE if you want to be kept up-to-date on progress on this project.
NEVER FORGET WHO SOLD YOU OUT
Here’s the full rogue’s gallery list of the Dirty Baker’s Dozen of RINO legislators who voted for the largest tax hike in Nevada’s history, including creation of a new gross receipts tax…
- Assemblyman James “The Big Selloutski” Oscarson – Nye County
- Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill – Carson City
- Assemblyman Pat “RINO” Hickey – Washoe
- Assemblyman Randy “Kirner Tax” Kirner – Washoe
- Assemblyman David Gardner – Clark
- Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury – Clark
- Assemblyman Lynn “The Bug Man” Stewart – Clark
- Assemblyman Paul Anderson – Clark
- Assemblyman Derek Armstrong-Anderson – Clark
- Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus – Clark
- Assemblyman Erv Nelson – Clark
- Assemblyman Glenn Trowbridge – Clark
- Assembly Speaker-of-the-Weak John Hambrick – Clark
Let the primaries begin!
Citizen Outreach is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots lobbying organization
which promotes limited-government public policies and legislation. Visit its website at CitizenOutreach.org.