A little more than 12 years ago, I moved to Nevada. At the time Nevada was a conservative and business-friendly state with very low taxes and a limited regulatory environment.
Since then, I have seen the state turn from red to purple, and now the Silver State is turning blue. The politicians I voted for went back on their promises of never raising taxes by implementing the largest tax increase Nevada’s history.
Now, the Nevada state legislature is dominated by Democrats, who have voted for every leftist program in the book, from raising the minimum wage, to raising electricity rates, to mandating universal healthcare, to ending transparency in the state’s pension system, no matter what the costs to our businesses and citizens.
Being a businessman, I looked at the local chamber of commerce, the “Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce,” for support. Surely they would support a pro-business agenda and represent my voice and the voices of other businesspeople to members of the state legislature, the county commission, and city council. What I found was amazing.
Metro Chamber Of Commerce Overwhelmingly Supports Anti-Business Politicians.
After looking at the candidates endorsed by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce in April 2018, I found that the Metro Chamber was as, if not more, anti-business than the politicians that had taken over the state legislature. You see, the overwhelming majority of the candidates endorsed by the Metro Chamber were the most anti-business politicians in the state.
The chamber’s list of endorsed candidates was a who’s who of tax raisers, regulators, socialists and pay for play politicians. The chamber endorsed a total of 35 candidates in partisan races, 20 Democrats, and 15 Republicans. Out of those, 15 of the Democrats were incumbents, while 9 of the Republicans were incumbents. After checking these incumbents’ records, I was aghast.
Every Democrat Endorsed Voted for Business Killing Taxes and Regulations
In the 2017 legislative session, every one of the Democrat incumbents in the state legislature endorsed by the chamber, Daniele Monroe-Moreno (AD1), Dina Neal (AD7), Jason Frierson (AD8), Steve Yeager (AD9), Chris Brooks (AD10), Olivia Diaz (AD11), Maggie Carlton (AD14), Tyrone Thompson (AD17), Ellen Spiegel (AD20), Ozzie Fumo (AD21), Michael Sprinkle (AD30), Moises Denis (SD2), Yvanna Cancela (SD10) and Julie Ratti (SD13), voted for SJR6 to raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour, voted for AB206 to increase the percentage of electricity from “renewable” sources from 25% to 40%, which would cause electricity rates to sky-rocket, voted for AB374 to impose universal healthcare on Nevada, which would explode the state budget and force massive tax increases, voted for SB384 to end transparency of the state’s pension system, hindering citizens from being able to see and understand one of the most onerous parts of the state budget, voted for SB196 to mandate employer paid sick leave, forcing more oppressive burdens on small businesses, voted for AB303 to ban private prisons, and many more big government, anti-business policies. Further, all of them, who were seated in the 2015 legislature, voted for every tax increase proposed by the legislature, including SB483, the largest tax increase in Nevada history.
A Majority of the Republicans Endorsed Voted for the $1.5 Billion Tax Increase
The Republicans the Metro Chamber endorsed weren’t much better. Out of the nine Republican incumbents endorsed, seven of them served in the 2015 legislature. Five of those, John Hambrick (AD2), James Oscarson (AD36), Joe Hardy (SD12), Ben Kieckhefer (SD16) and James Settelmeyer (SD17) joined all of the Democrats and voted for SB483, the largest tax increase in Nevada history. The $1.5 billion tax increase included the gross receipts tax, which the citizens of Nevada had rejected by a four to one margin, and several other taxes. One of these tax increases was on the incorporation and annual renewal of businesses with the secretary of state. The law increased the yearly renewal fee from $125 to $150 and raised the business licensing fee, which had been non-existent just a few years earlier, from $200 to $500. In other words, in just a few short years, Republicans had joined Democrats to kill small businesses by increasing the incorporation and annual licensing fees from $125 to $650.
Jim Small, a retired senior executive with the National Labor Relations Board, who ran in the Republican primary against John Hambrick in AD2, said that the that the Metro Chamber didn’t even bother to call him as he knew it to be an establishment organization,
I was disappointed that the Metro Chamber didn’t even bother to contact me before endorsing the incumbent, who as assembly speaker ushered through the $1.5 billion tax increase, damaging countless Nevada businesses. It seems that many establishment organizations and groups overwhelmingly support the incumbent over any challenger without regard to merit.
The Metro Chamber Endorsed Only 2 Proven Pro-Business Conservative Candidates
What was even more interesting is that out of the 35 candidates endorsed, the Metro Chamber supported only two Republican incumbents with proven conservative records, Jill Dickman (AD31) and John Ellison (AD33). Conservative incumbent Republicans with proven pro-business records, like Richard McArthur (AD4), Jim Marchant (AD37) and Robin Titus (AD38), *did not get an endorsement.
Marchant, who is an entrepreneur having started one of the first internet service provider companies and pioneered one of the first voice over IP phone businesses in the United States. He is also the founder of the Federation of Internet Service Providers of America, an association dedicated to preserving the internet as a free market industry, said that the Metro Chamber never called him for an endorsement interview. Marchant said that he believed he knew why,
They know that I am a true free market pro-business conservative and that’s not what their organization is looking for. They support tax and spend establishment types who care about themselves, not about the constituents they are supposed to represent.
Local Pay to Play Democrat Endorsed
On the local level, the chamber endorsed two candidates in partisan races, both were Democrats, and one was an incumbent, Jim Gibson, the Clark County Commissioner representing district G.
Gibson, a former mayor of Henderson with a sordid history, who is running against conservative Republican Cindy Lake, the former Chair of the Clark County Republican Party.
In 2006, during his run in the Democrat primary for Governor, his opponent referred to Gibson as “pay to play Jim” and pointed out that while Gibson was mayor of Henderson he voted for and supported over a dozen zoning changes and permits for developers and other entities, and miraculously, he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from them.
Just recently, Gibson was appointed to the Clark County Commission and voted in favor of giving WestCare, a drug treatment center, $1.5 million, even though WestCare was found in an audit to be “double dipping” by charging local governments for the same services it billed Medicare and couldn’t account for a $1 million shortfall.
Lake said that Gibson is the poster boy for the type of politician the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce endorses and that she, like Marchant and Small, was not contacted by the Metro Chamber, because of her anti-tax and anti-regulation stands,
I’m proposing a five-year moratorium on business license fees and taxes for small, privately owned businesses that meet certain criteria as they are the real job creators. The Metro Chamber never contacted me to ask my positions, which are well known as I’ve been an activist for lower taxes, fees, and regulations for over a decade.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce endorsements went to leftist progressive pay to play Democrats and tax and spend establishment Republicans. The candidates the Metro Chamber supports are a bane to businesses the chamber is supposed to represent.
It Is Time To Have a Real Chamber of Commerce
That is why businesses are joining the Real Chamber of Commerce, whose mission statement is to promote a business-friendly environment through the free enterprise system, a basic principle of our nation’s founding.
It’s time we had a real chamber of commerce that looks after and supports the real interests of businesses, rather than a chamber that supports cronyism, socialism, oppressive taxation and regulation, policies that are benefitting a select few while destroying opportunity for all of us.
By Ronald Solomon
Image Courtesy of James Marvin Phelps’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License