Dirty tricks done dirt cheap

Many laws have what are known as severability clauses that declare that if any part of the law is dinged by the courts the rest will stand.

Democrats in Carson City have come up with an anti-severability clause. According to the morning paper, Senate Bill 551 cobbles together some education funding and a tax measure that would allow a portion of the modified business tax that is scheduled to be reduced to continue at the current rate, generating an additional $100 million in revenue over the next biennium.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau has opined that the tax rate can be maintained by a simple majority vote, even though the state Constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote in both houses if a bill “creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form …” The state Senate is one Democrat shy of having a two-thirds lock.

The newspaper reports, “The bill also includes poison pill language should Republicans challenge the two-thirds requirement in court. A ruling against the tax extension or any other provision of the bill would invalidate it in its entirety. Senate Democrats framed the bill, introduced with only a digest Monday, as a choice between support for education or a ‘corporate tax cut.’”

This is obviously a ruse to get one Republican to vote for the bill so it passes with the constitutionally mandated two-thirds. As dirty a trick as one could devise.

“Using children to try and pass a tax increase? Pretty sad,” Republican Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer of Minden was quoted as saying.

Republican Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer of Minden. (R-J file pix)