A Libertarian guide to the legislature

For more information about the 77th legislative session, check out www.leg.state.nv.us.

With the initial meetings of Nevada’s 77th legislative session underway, the state has a lot to anticipate. A wide range of issues will be tackled with 170 bills already introduced for this legislative period. The Legislature can look forward to dealing with everything from transportation issues to creating a committee to review suicide fatalities to taxes on live entertainment to re-legalizing online gaming. Every shade of gray (or black, as in the case of prohibiting the hunting of black bears) is going to be game for legislation.

The following is a short list of issues to be on the look out for as the 2013 legislative session progresses:

1. Taxes: A revitalization and restructuring of Nevada’s tax system is on the table this year. With the possibility of taxes increasing for businesses, Nevada could be in for its share of debates about a) whether voters will actually approve the increases or b) whether they do or don’t, how will Nevada fund many of its programs (such as education)? However, a services tax is another potential increase being debated and may be used in place of a business tax. Nevada’s tax system is a major draw for those who move here. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, it’s essential to keep taxes low as a way to draw in businesses that can create jobs and to stimulate the economy by passing on the savings to employees who then go out and spend money. While it is admirable that Gov. Brian Sandoval has not yet suggested budget cuts, if there is the possibility of reducing the funding of excessive or inefficient programs, then doing so would be an alternative to tax hikes.

2. Education: It appears that charter schools are taking a larger part in legislative discussion in 2013. Several bills have been introduced to determine how state resources will be allocated for charter schools, such as how charter schools will be allowed to use state buildings, as well as what kind of performance tests will be used to determine their effectiveness. With greater support for charter schools, we can predict a shift over the next several years in how Nevada’s education system will adapt to new styles of learning. In addition, this may be an important step forward in breaking free from the iron-clad hold that teacher’s unions have on the ability to fire ineffective educators.

3. Drug regulation: With drug laws becoming more and more liberalized across the U.S., Nevada’s own substance laws are in a prime position for discussion. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana after the 2012 elections, and with its current decriminalized possession status and medical use allowances, Nevada ought to follow suit. The new, extremely lucrative source of tax revenue would not only provide large amounts of funding for Nevada’s important programs, it would expand the individual liberties of Nevada’s citizens.

In the April 2012 edition of the University of Chicago Undergraduate Law Review, student Sean McClelland (from Incline Village) wrote about the unique position of Nevada’s institutional law structure: “As with gaming and prostitution, the Nevada institutional structure has correctly determined that liberalization and legalization of fringe activities ultimately will produce results such as an increased technological interest in the state. The bureaucratic structure effectively regulates activities to ensure their safety while reaping the economic rewards of innovative social policy.”

With that legacy in mind, the Nevada Legislature has its work cut out for it. It appears that 2013’s list of bills will attempt to tackle many issues that range across a wide spectrum of policies. From personal freedoms to economic ones, we can only hope that our Legislature’s aim will not only be cooperation but a greater expansion of the core values of the Nevadan spirit: those of deregulation, individual liberty and personal responsibility.