Guinn pledges veto of satellite TV bill; Governor remains 'firm about no new taxes'

04/07/2005
REVIEW-JOURNAL CAPITAL BUREAU
ED VOGEL

CARSON CITY -- Gov. Kenny Guinn said Wednesday he will veto a bill that would require satellite television customers to pay a tax similar to the one levied now on cable television users.

"I am firm about no new taxes," Guinn said.

"At this point I am not approving anything that increases taxes or fees. In the past I said I would support taxes that the people affected wanted to pay, but not even that this year."

He said he has not reviewed Assembly Bill 151, a bill backed by the cable television industry that would require satellite television users to pay franchise fees, but opposes it simply because it imposes a tax on consumers. While satellite TV users pay no taxes or fees, cable TV customers pay franchise fees to local governments.

Under the bill, proceeds of the tax, which the bill refers to as a "fee," would be used to buy communications equipment for police and firefighters.

The proposal was introduced by Assemblyman John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, who is a North Las Vegas Fire Department captain. Twenty-six of the 42 Assembly members are listed as co-sponsors of the bill.

Cable TV companies in the Carson City area have embarked on a "Fair is Fair" campaign to induce their customers to contact their legislators.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, that campaign was failing miserably. Only five or the 325 people who commented about the bill on the Legislature's Web site expressed support for the proposal. Direct TV lobbyist Fred Hillerby said his company also has encouraged its customers to contact their legislators about the bill.

Hillerby said he was pleased Guinn would not support a "taxing scheme on the 147,000 people" who use satellite television services in Nevada. He said the cable television industry tried to win support for the proposal by earmarking the funds to help "first responders."

A hearing on AB151 was conducted March 21 before the Assembly Growth and Infrastructure Committee, but no vote was taken. If the proposal is not approved by April 15, the bill will be considered dead for the remainder of the 2005 Legislature.

"My preference is not to have any tax increases, but I haven't made my mind up on it (AB151)," said Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson.

Perkins, the chairman of the Growth and Infrastructure Committee, added that he had not yet talked to committee members to determine whether there was support for the bill. He did sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

Cox Communications did not return a call for a response.

For this, Nevada needs a law to charge a new fee on its residents? No, thanks.

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