Clean Water Coalition v. M Resort

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Justia Opinion Summary

Confronting a statewide budget crisis, the Nevada Legislature undertook several revenue-adjustment and cost cutting measures in an effort to balance the State's budget. Those measures were codified in Assembly Bill 6 (AB 6). In this appeal, the Supreme Court was asked whether parts of AB 6 violated the Nevada Constitution. The disputed section of the bill applied only to Appellant Clean Water Coalition (CWC), and converted money collected as user fees into a tax. The CWC used moneys it collected from households and businesses to implement the Systems Conveyance and Operations Program (SCOP) which involved the planning, design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of a regional system to convey effluent from existing and future wastewater treatment facilities to its outfall in the Colorado River system. The CWC collected fees from 2002 until 2010. SCOP was tabled, and the funds collected for the wastewater facilities were transferred to the State's General Fund. M Resort and other businesses that had paid the fees sued the State, challenging the conversion of the CWC fees into what they argued was essentially a special tax. "Special taxes" are prohibited by the state constitution. The Supreme Court held that because AB 6 "burdens only the CWC in its efforts to raise revenue for the state, it is an impermissible local and special tax" under the state constitution. The Court found AB 6 unconstitutional.