News Column

Does Mining Industry Pay Its Fair Share?

May 8, 2013

The most common trope about Nevada's mining industry might be that it doesn't pay its fair share in taxes.

But when legislators examined a mining tax bill last week, they swarmed their legal counsel with questions that stemmed from confusion about what is fair and what is possible within the state's constitution when it comes to taxing mining.

"I don't understand," one legislator said.

"I am confused," another said.

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, later said that legislators "don't play telephone well."

"Somebody says something to one person, then it gets twisted around," she said. "That's common for this building. It's our job to ask good questions."

For supporters of Senate Joint Resolution 15, the bill is very simple: Mining has a special protection in the constitution, and that provision has to be removed so mining can pay its fair share in taxes.

"We are asking big business to pay their fair share, including mining," said Mayra Ocampa, director of government relations for the Service Employees International Union of Nevada.

Meanwhile, the Nevada mining industry is saying the issue is complex and that the tax-mining-more crowd is getting it wrong.

"Wrong information does not become true simply because it is repeated loudly or frequently," Newmont Mining lobbyist Jim Wadhams said at a recent legislative hearing. "This resolution before you is tax policy and should not just be done for political convenience. ... It's time for some Nevada straight-talk. This is a very, very serious issue."


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Source: Copyright Las Vegas Sun (NV) 2013

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