TAX POLICY

After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, lawmakers introduced and rapidly passed a measure raising taxes on the state’s mining industry with proceeds earmarked for education — along with a host of other changes aimed at earning support from Republicans.

The bill, AB495, creates a new excise tax on annual gold and silver mine gross revenue, set at a rate of 0.75 percent on revenue above $20 million and a rate of 1.1 percent for any revenue above $150 million. It’s expected to raise between $150 and $170 million over the two years of the budget cycle.

The bill also diverts revenue from the existing net proceeds of minerals tax to the state education fund, rather than the general fund. Combined, the new and existing mining revenue will send about $300 million to the education budget account in a biennium.

As part of the deal, lawmakers agreed to drop three proposals to adjust the constitutional caps on mining taxes — measures estimated to have raised anywhere between $170 and $541 million per biennium, although they would have needed voter approval in 2022 and would not have provided immediate relief this budget cycle. 

Leaders of the Clark County Education Association also agreed to drop two initiative petitions raising gaming and sales taxes in the state in exchange for the mining bill’s passage. The two petitions were set to head to the 2022 ballot after lawmakers failed to act on them within the 40-day timeframe set by the Constitution, but the teacher’s union is expected to withdraw the petitions after lawmakers inserted an amendment into another bill explicitly allowing for initiative petitions to be withdrawn within 90 days of an election.

The other major tax policy change approved by lawmakers was AB363, a measure that subjects short-term rentals such as Airbnb to the taxes that hotels face and other regulations. The bill was amended in the final days of the legislative session to only apply to cities with a population above 25,000 within Clark County (which includes the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas).

Other major tax policy changes failed to make much headway. Lawmakers held a hearing for a bill that would have removed exemptions and extended a 9 percent Live Entertainment Tax to Raiders and Golden Knights tickets, but those provisions were removed and the bill was amended to exempt any applicable live entertainment events provided by or for the benefit of a governmental entity.

Another bill that would have required online travel companies to pay a greater share of hotel taxes was replaced with a study, but died after it was referred to a budget committee.