Nevada lawmakers pass fuel tax increase in Washoe County

| 6/3/2009

The Nevada Legislature worked late into the night on the final day of the regular session to address several pressing issues. Among the efforts cleared to become law is a bill increasing fuel taxes each year in Washoe County.

Assembly lawmakers voted 35-6 Monday, June 1, to join the Senate in overriding Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto of the bill allowing Washoe County to enact a voter-approved fuel tax increase to fund road construction. The Senate voted 20-1 over the weekend to cancel the veto.

By the time the session wrapped up in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday, June 2, lawmakers had voted to override 25 of the governor’s 41 vetoes. Gibbons has the distinction of being the most overridden governor in the state’s history.

The record for overridden vetoes in a Nevada legislative session dates back to the mid-1860s with 10. According to the Legislative Counsel Bureau, coming into this year the last time a Nevada governor’s veto was overridden was 1989.

Gov. Jim Gibbons vetoed the bill – SB201 – last month citing concern that voters might not have understood they were being asked to support a tax hike.

In his veto statement, Gibbons said the ballot language was nonspecific. He said he is concerned voters might not have realized they were supporting a tax.

“Notably absent from the language of that advisory question was a clear and concise statement that the state legislation being sought would come in the form of a fuel tax increase,” Gibbons wrote. “Also notably absent is a clear and concise statement of the amount of the fuel tax increase being sought.”

The bill allows gas and diesel taxes in Washoe County to be increased at rates equal to inflation of construction costs. Initially, it is estimated that the tax paid in the county on a gallon of gasoline will increase by 2 cents per gallon. The county tax paid on a gallon of diesel will increase about 2.4 cents.

Advocates for the tax increase say it would eventually generate about $250 million annually for roadwork throughout the county.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Nevada in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this report.

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