THE FIFTH DAY
Carson City (Sunday), June 29, 2003
Senate called to order at 1:12 p.m.
President Hunt presiding.
All present except Senators Cegavske, Coffin, Nolan, Rawson, Tiffany and Washington, who were excused.
Prayer by the Chaplain, Pastor Albert Tilstra.
Today, we bow before You as we have done so many times in this Senate Chamber, to ask for Your help and blessing on all that is done for the good of this State. In our minds we have come to an impasse that seems too great to overcome. But give us clear minds, and right words to say what we mean and mean what we say.
Teach us economy in speech that neither wounds nor offends, that affords light without generating heat. Bridle our tongues lest they stampede us into utterances of which, later, we shall be ashamed. So help each one of these Senators, we pray.
Pledge of allegiance to the Flag.
Senator Raggio moved that further reading of the Journal be dispensed with, and the President and Secretary be authorized to make the necessary corrections and additions.
remarks from the floor
Remarks by Senators Raggio and Neal.
Senator Neal requested that his remarks be entered in the Journal.
Thank you, Madam President. As far as I am concerned, if nothing is to be accomplished, I will be going home on Monday. I do not know whether we will be able to do anything before then.
Let me refer to the stalemate as I see it. The Majority Leader has stated that the Governor is now anticipating speaking with the Attorney General and will request a writ of mandamus to force us to act. I do not know what that means. We do not have a precedent for this action in this State. In California, when the school budget was short, the people sued in Federal Court and the court was forced to impose a remedy. The remedy only included taxes already on the books. They could not impose any new laws.
For those of you who will have to go home and discuss this issue with your constituents, let me refer you to Article 9, section 2 of our State Constitution which requires the Legislature to appropriate money. I will quote from the Constitution: “The Legislature shall provide by law for an annual tax sufficient to defray the estimated expenses of the State for each fiscal year; and whatever the expenses of any year exceed the income, the Legislature shall provide for levying a tax sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency, as well as the estimated expenses of such ensuing year or two years.”
We are obligated under this provision to pass some type of tax. What we are up against is the provision in our Constitution under section 18, Article 4. This section provides for the 2/3‑majority requirement for passage in each House to pass any tax, revenue or fee. There are a few Legislators in the other House who can hold up this process.
Let me refer to our Constitution on the purpose of government: “Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people. They have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it.”
Those in the other House have run afoul of this provision because whatever they are doing and whatever is their mindset, if it is not for the public good, then the Governor and the Attorney General will have a good case to bring before the Supreme Court to force some type of tax without the Legislature meeting. That will be bad for the State. The Court cannot institute any new revenue measures, but it can increase those measures already on the books. In other states that have faced this dilemma, the court has had the authority to do so.
I hope, when the other House meets, today, at 4:00 pm, or whenever, they will take note of that fact if they do not come to a conclusion as to what taxes should be imposed, the Court will make that decision. The Governor and Attorney General will have clear authority to act because it is written into the Constitution that we shall levy taxes to meet the expenses of the State. It is a mandate. It is also constitutional for Legislators to have the right to vote or not to vote. But if block voting does not serve the public good as the Constitution stipulates and there is no decision because of a stalemate, then the Court will make one for us. Hopefully, those individuals who are so recalcitrant in their position that they cannot change will understand there is a way out; if not through them, it will be through the Court.
Senator Raggio moved that the Senate adjourn until Monday, June 30, 2003 at 10 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 1:26 p.m.
Approved: Lorraine T. Hunt
President of the Senate
Attest: Claire J. Clift
Secretary of the Senate