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May 23, 2019

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Laxalt opposes commerce tax, but consultant sees little chance for repeal


Steve Marcus

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt speaks to airmen during Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Nellis Air Force Base Thursday, Jan.11, 2018.

Nevada’s commerce tax has little chance of being repealed, although Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt opposes it, said Robert Uithoven, a consultant for the Laxalt campaign.

The commerce tax was at the core of $1.4 billion in new taxes enacted by a Republican-controlled Legislature in 2015. It applies to the state’s largest businesses and has drawn the ire of many conservatives.

“When the commerce tax was first proposed, Adam Laxalt said he opposed it,” Uithoven said Wednesday on Nevada Newsmakers. “Adam Laxalt still opposes it today.”

But a drive to repeal the tax has little chance for success, he said.

“It appears like the organizers of the commerce tax repeal are not going to be able to get the signatures, that I have been able to tell, to put a repeal (question) on the ballot,” Uithoven said.

Conservative lawmakers who oppose the tax also have little chance of passing a bill to repeal it in the 2019 Legislature, Uithoven said.

“It would arguably be tough with a Republican Legislature to repeal the commerce tax and with a Democratic Legislature, even more daunting,” he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, is opposed to repealing the tax.

But Laxalt, who is the state attorney general, and Sandoval, who has served two terms as governor and is not eligible to run again, agree on many issues, especially on education, Uithoven said. Laxalt shares Sandoval’s support for Education Savings Accounts and Opportunity Scholarships, he said.

“I think there will be a lot more in common than there are differences,” Uithoven said. He said Laxalt would continue “with the economic reforms we have seen, a lot of the economic growth that we’ve seen.”

Laxalt has endorsed fellow Republican Michael Roberson for lieutenant governor. Roberson was the Senate majority leader in the 2015 Legislature and led the push for the commerce tax and Sandoval’s overall $1.4 billion tax increase.

Roberson and Laxalt have talked about their differences on the commerce tax, Uithoven said. “There is a difference of opinion and that is OK,” he said.

What will voters think? “We will find out,” Uithoven said.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Robert Uithoven is a consultant for the Laxalt campaign. | (April 2, 2018)