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August 30, 2015

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Electric Daisy Carnival, Speedway to fight proposed entertainment tax

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

The third and final night of the 2012 Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 10, 2012.

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Kyle Busch (18) battles Denny Hamlin for the lead of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Samis Town 300 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 05, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, is expected to take critics head on today at the first public hearing of her proposed entertainment and admissions tax, an 8 percent levy on everything from concerts and sporting events to gym memberships and strip clubs.

Chief among them is the Electric Daisy Carnival, the massive outdoor music festival that draws an estimated 345,000 attendees to Las Vegas each summer. Because the event is outdoors, it is exempt from Nevada's live entertainment tax-- a haphazardly applied tax that is rife with exemptions.

Kirkpatrick's goal in revamping the tax is to cast as wide a net as possible, seeking to eliminate all exemptions and extend the tax to virtually every form of recreation.

But Insomniac, the company that produces the Electrical Daisy Carnival is expected to fight for their exemption, as are other venues who currently are free from collecting the tax from their patrons.

In a slideshow expected to be presented at a joint Senate and Assembly tax committee meeting this afternoon, Insomniac will call the new admissions tax bad for Nevada and bad for music fans. The presentation points out that the event has "choices," an implication that Insomniac could take their event and their hundreds of thousands of economic activity-generating fans out of Nevada.

That's not an argument that Kirkpatrick has been sympathetic, too, after years of listening to businesses large and small threaten to leave the state if lawmakers pass new taxes to strengthen a failing public schools system. Kirkpatrick has offered to help businesses making such threats pack a U-Haul for a move out of town.

Electric Daisy Carnival isn't the only event opposing Kirkpatrick's measure-- Assembly Bill 498. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which also is exempted from the live entertainment tax, is in opposition. Golf clubs don't like the tax, neither does the Motion Picture Association. And dozens of emails have been sent in opposition.

Even some lawmakers in Kirkpatrick's own party are skeptical of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said Monday he thinks Kirkpatrick is dedicated to finding good policy, but doesn't necessarily think the net should be cast so wide.

"It's good policy because ... it's fair and it's simple," Denis said. "Now do we need to exempt some folks out? I think we need to look at that. I think it could be a good thing for us, but we have to look at it."

Kirkpatrick said she would be open to considering some exemptions, but warned that narrowing the pool of taxpayers would result in a higher rate.

The hearing on Assembly Bill 498 begins at 1 p.m.

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