Is This The Last Day For Lawmakers?

Lawmakers are trying to beat today's 5 p.m. deadline that will mark the end of the Special Session of the Legislature.

Even though the clock is ticking away, lawmakers still don't have a tax plan to fund state government over the next two years.

But they do have at least one new proposal to consider.

As this special session got underway Tuesday night, Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio and other lawmakers asked lobbyists to keep their distance.

Representatives of the gaming industry and business have been pulling the legislature and the public in different directions almost since January. Gaming was pushing a gross receipts tax to meet an expected budget shortfall, while business championing a variety of alternatives.

Those competing interests produced an impasse between the two houses during the regular session. The Senate rejecting the gross receipts tax. The Assembly doggedly insisting on it.

Last night with the debate going nowhere, the leadership turned to business and gaming representatives for a new idea. Today they had it

A business tax package that includes a franchise fee, based on gross receipts and a business profits tax.

As a staff analyst explained it, the tax has different scales for different sized businesses. If it passes, businesses in the state would find themselves filing a quarterly returns with the state, just as they do with the I.R.S.

Most states have a version of this tax, but after 122 days of legislating, the lawmakers were getting their first close look at it.

"We're hoping it will be a variation of something that we've seen before and had a look at," said Assemblyman David Parks.

Lawmakers will examine it in further detail today, just hours away from the deadline for this session. They will look at it without much input from constituents, including business men and women - who may only now be hearing about it.

If the lawmakers fail to pass a tax plan by the deadline tomorrow, the governor will be forced to call them back.

The timing will be up to him.


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