Jon Ralston, Host, Ralston Reports
Anjeanette Damon, Senior Politics Editor, Las Vegas Sun
BY AMY KINGSLEY -- The legislative session began in February with pledges of bipartisanship and promises of tax reform — and a dilemma about what to do with troubled Assemblyman Steven Brooks.
Brooks, who allegedly threatened Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, was expelled less than two months into the session.
But the ordeal consumed Assembly leaders during the beginning of the session. And it might have contributed to the lack of follow through on all those promises made back in February.
“I think it would be doing too much to fully blame the lack of a tax discussion on [Brooks],” said Anjeanette Damon, senior politics editor at the Las Vegas Sun.
Although the Brooks issue was resolved in late March, the other issues haven’t been so easy to fix.
“There were big big promises at the beginning of this session for tax reform, a new look at the tax structure. Yes, we’ve heard all these promises before but this was going to be different,” said Jon Ralston, host of Ralston Reports. “If you hear disappointment in my voice, it’s because this was a session of great expectations and those expectations were dashed.”
Even though the Democrats hold the majority in the Assembly and Senate, they always had a limited negotiating position, Damon said. The governor made it clear from the beginning that he wouldn’t raise taxes. And so, the Democrats eventually capitulated and appear poised to sign the governor’s budget.
“[The Democrats] pretty much kind of rolled over,” Damon said. “The Senate Majority Leader’s proposal was an increase in the payroll tax, and not only did he back down from that and say never mind. But now it looks as if the governor is going to get his tax cut on the payroll taxes so fewer businesses will be paying the payroll tax.”
The legislature is still considering several big issues. Mark Kelly, the husband of Gabby Giffords, spoke today in support of a bill that would require background checks for private sales of firearms. That bill will probably pass the Assembly, only to be vetoed by the governor, Ralston said.
A bill that would move NV Energy off coal also has good prospects, unless it gets lost in the last-minute shuffle, Damon said.
And although the legislature hasn’t accomplished as much as promised, some of the accomplishments are pretty substantial.
They include measures to begin a repeal of the Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Another is a proposal to lift the tax cap on mining.
Both of those will go to the voters in future elections.