Nevada voters reject constitutional amendment, keep 150-year-old limit on taxing mining firms

IndustrialsAssociated Press

Nevada's mining industry already makes a big contribution to the state, and it still will, the industry's top lobbyist said Wednesday after voters narrowly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have removed a 5 percent cap on mining taxes that dates to statehood in 1864.

"The defeat of Question 2 does not change Nevada mining's commitment to working with state policymakers to address Nevada's needs," Nevada Mining Association chief Tim Crowley said in a statement. "We are proud that while employing only 1 percent of the state's total workforce, with salaries twice the state average, mining currently pays 7 percent of all general fund revenues."

Continue Reading Below

The initiative failed Tuesday by fewer than 3,400 votes after some 535,000 ballots were cast for and against it. The results were unofficial, pending certification by Nov. 12.

Had the measure passed, it wouldn't have immediately increased taxes paid by the powerful mining industry, because the state Legislature in 2013 adopted a law that would have kicked in to provide tax exemptions for mining companies that could have added up to about the same amount as the increase.

Initiative proponents argued that Nevada needs the revenue for schools, and that removing the constitutional provision would give state lawmakers and the governor flexibility to adjust mining tax policies for companies extracting valuable resources like gold, silver and lithium.

They also noted that many big mines in the Silver State are owned by companies headquartered outside of Nevada.