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Nevada Governor Vetoes Bill Suspending Green Property Tax Abatement Program

On Monday, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons (R) vetoed SB567, which legislators passed earlier this month to suspend the state’s green building property tax abatement program. Gibbons simultaneously issued an executive order directing state lawmakers to create a new program before the end of their session on June 4. Gibbons commented that his veto was grounded in the “rushed move” by the State Assembly and Senate to suspend the program, and called for public hearings “where taxpayer concerns can be discussed and debated and the long-term fiscal impact of any tax exemptions or abatements can be carefully analyzed.”

Interestingly, according to a May 10th AP article, the Nevada Public Works Board (“PWB”) was scheduled to meet last Thursday with Governor Gibbons to discuss the LEED rating system, as well as produce a white paper on LEED at some point this week. I’ve yet to see the white paper, but it’s only Wednesday- if anyone out there comes across it, I’d appreciate a link in the comments. I’m particularly interested because of a quote from PWB design chief Bruce Nipp, who told the AP that his group was “discussing an alternative approach. What we came to realize is that the lawmakers were maybe being misinformed or misled as to what the LEED program was and what it would do for this state.” Nipp also stated that three quarters of the available LEED points “don’t have anything to do with energy conservation.” USGBC Vice President Michelle Moore was also quoted in the article, noting that each point “has a substantial public and economic benefit.”

Much has been written thus far in 2007 about the carrot versus stick approach towards encouraging green building practices. The drama playing out in the Nevada desert right now could go a long way towards determining how states and municipalities approach legislation, whether it be in the form of mandate or incentive, particularly if the PWB does, in fact, produce a white paper objectively presenting the pros and cons of LEED as applied to the goals of Nevada’s program.

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