- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Defenders of the new Nevada Commerce Tax filed a legal challenge Thursday against an effort to repeal the measure by a statewide vote.

The group Coalition for Nevada’s Future submitted a response in district court in Carson City, arguing there were several legal flaws in the petition filed earlier this month by the organization RIP Commerce Tax. Republican Controller Ron Knecht is leading the repeal effort with the goal of nullifying a business tax backed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and more than two-thirds of the Legislature.

Knecht and his supporters, who include conservative Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers and former Nevada Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, say lawmakers passed a tax package against the will of voters who overwhelmingly rejected a tax measure on the 2014 statewide ballot. If their petition survives a court challenge, they can start gathering the necessary 55,000 signatures that would qualify the measure for the ballot.

The coalition that hopes to block the petition offered several reasons it should be stopped. It says the petition should only deal with policy but instead addresses “administrative details,” such as accounting processes. The coalition also argues that the measure would unlawfully unbalance the budget with no way to backfill the money, and that it doesn’t properly inform voters about the budgetary consequences the measure would create.

Knecht’s measure seeks to repeal just the Commerce Tax, which applies to the gross revenue of businesses that make more than $4 million from Nevada each year. The tax is expected to bring in about $120 million to Nevada coffers over two years.

A separate effort, led by anti-tax activist Chuck Muth, seeks to repeal all three parts of a $1.1 billion tax package passed this spring. A Carson City judge said that petition shouldn’t proceed because it violates the state’s single-subject rule for ballot measures, among other things.

Sandoval has criticized the repeal movements, saying they will destroy a “generational opportunity” to improve Nevada’s underperforming schools.

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