Breaking down Sample Ballot Question #2

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RENO, Nev. (KRNV & — Early voting starts in just four days, and three very big decisions are in your hands.

Nevada has a long-standing history of supporting the mining industry, including a cap on mining taxes written into the Nevada Constitution. But now some are saying it is time for the industry to pay up.

It is a question that could not be more timely with Tesla’s move to Nevada and the expansion of lithium mining that will follow, and the choice is up to you. “The second question is the cap on mining taxes and this is sort of a new topic for Nevada voters, but it’s a complex topic,” said TMCC Political Science Professor Fred Lokken.

The wording is complex, too. In short: Nevada’s constitution limits how much the mining industry can be taxed. The question asks if you think that should change.

Lokken and University of Nevada Political Science Department Chair Eric Herzik said those in favor want the state’s limited mineral riches to be passed on to its people. “All of the wealth that is extracted here in Nevada’s mines go elsewhere,” Lokken said. “Only one of the mining companies are domestically owned. All of the other ones are owned by foreign corporations in foreign countries.”

“This is not a renewable resource,” Herzik said. “It was a case of ‘Well, wait a minute. Other states have mineral extraction type taxes, why is Nevada not getting its fair share?’ That’s from the perspective of the pro-tax group.”

But the other side says Nevada mining companies already pay enough in other taxes and fees and the cap ensures sustainability. “The arguments against it are that it’s a very volatile industry,” Lokken said. “[When] it profits, it profits largely, but when it collapses it’s near depression in the parts of the state that have mining.”

“The opponents of that may even argue that mining doesn’t have a privileged position, but that’s a stretch,” Herzik said. “They do. They always have.”

Herzik said it is important to note that the vote is about removing the cap not changing the tax.

“This measure does not raise mining taxes,” Herzik said. “It allows the state to look at raising mining taxes. That’s the first thing you have to do. You have to change the law to say you can do it.”

On Wednesday, News 4 will dig into the big tax question, both in terms of money spent on political ads and in pages in the sample ballot. It is Question Three: if Nevada should create a business margin tax to fund education.

Tune in to News 4 at 5 for the breakdown of the Margins Tax.