Nevada's tax on mining was set in its 1864 Constitution at "a rate not to exceed 5 percent of the net proceeds," and never fundamentally changed -- even with recently skyrocketing gold prices in a state desperate for revenue. Advocates for a higher mining tax have for years been frustrated by legislators unwilling to go up against the Silver State's legacy industry ("Nevada's Golden Child," HCN, 4/26/10). But after hearings in 2011 revealed that mining companies were claiming questionable deductions to pay an effective tax of just over 1 percent, the effort to strip mining of its tax protection gained momentum.
In late May, Senate Joint Resolution 15, which would remove the mining tax limit from the State Constitution, won the second of two legislative approvals required for a constitutional amendment. Now the issue goes before voters on the November 2014 ballot. If they say yes, legislators who meet next in 2015 can set a new tax rate.