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September 30, 2014

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Mining Association: Initiative to raise state tax ‘confusing, misleading’

An initiative petition to raise mining taxes by up to 300 percent is "inherently confusing and misleading," the Nevada Mining Association argues in a brief filed today with the Nevada Supreme Court.

The Association is asking the court to stop circulation of a petition that would dramatically increase the taxes on Nevada mines.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada is leading the drive to collect 97,002 signatures by June 15 to get the issue on the November election ballot.

Bob Fulkerson, a leader in the alliance, said the liberal advocacy group has about 10,000 names so far. "They (the mining companies) are willing to spend any amount of money to keep this off the ballot," he said.

He estimated the companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this court fight while all work of attorneys for the leadership alliance has been donated.

District Judge James Wilson of Carson City ruled the alliance could continue gathering signatures. The mining association then appealed its case to the Supreme Court.

The Nevada Constitution presently holds there should be a net proceeds tax on mineral of no more than 5 percent. The initiative petition, that would have to be passed by the voters in 2010 and 2012, calls for it to be a gross tax of not less than 5 percent.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau estimated the mining industry paid $91 million in net proceeds of minerals in 2008. If the proposed constitutional amendment had been in effect, it would have paid $284.4 million.

James Wadhams, the Las Vegas lawyer representing the mining association, said the initiative petition is invalid because it deals with more than one subject. It proposes to change the net tax to a gross tax and the 5 percent limit to a limit of at least 5 percent.

His brief said the petition "changes the historic method of taxation from an ad valorem property tax to some form of gross tax on an inflated property value." The petition, said Wadhams "requires for the first time in Nevada history, that a particular type of property pay."

The Progressive Leadership Alliance will now submit its answering brief and the court will hear oral arguments June 7 in Las Vegas.

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