April 28 is Small Business Day at Nevada Legislature

Operators of small businesses can meet their counterparts and speak their minds to state lawmakers at a Small Business Day gathering in Carson City on Friday, April 28.

National Federation of Independent Business says legislators from both political parties will show up to hear directly from Nevada’s businesses.

“It’s a two-way conversation about the 2017 legislative session so far,” said State NFIB Director Randi Thompson. “The legislators will also share their perspective with the business owners.”

Thompson will offer an overview of key bills affecting business. Among the pending bills with a fiscal impact on business, she will discuss Senate Bill 106, which would increase minimum wage by 75 cents per year over five years, or until Nevada’s minimum wage reaches $12 per hour. There are several bills mandating changes to health benefits, and requiring paid leave, including paid leave for victims of domestic violence.

The breakfast presentation starts at 7:30 a.m. in room 3100 at the legislature. NFIB has more information about the event on its website.



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Nevada Alcohol Tax Hike Passes Senate Committee

Updated: 8:00 p.m. April 5,2017 — A bill proposing a package of sin taxes that would fund government-assisted heroin injection clinics passed its first hurdle in the Nevada legislature today. Senate Bill 181 would boost drug courts and substance abuse treatment programs. It would also launch a pilot program for heroin addiction that emulates one in Vancouver, British Columbia, where addicts are supplied with the drug in a supervised setting.

SB181 would raise excise taxes on beer, distilled spirits, and wine by 50 percent. The cigarette tax would rise by 65 cents per pack, or 33 percent, and gaming licenses would increase by .25 percent.

SB 181 passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Southern Nevada Republicans Joseph Hardy and Scott Hammond voting no. It will get its next hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, first presented the bill last month, promoting treatment, rather than a punitive approach to drug addiction.

“The war on drugs is over and we’ve lost,” Segerblom said. “We have to stop criminalizing addictive behaviors and start treating them as mental and physical illnesses.”

Segerblom suggested that if certain substances result in addictive behavior, then those substances should be taxed to pay for the problems they create, including crime, and pressure on health services.

Story continues below.

Slide from SB 181 Sponsor presentation

At the bill’s first hearing in March liquor industry advocates, including the Wine Institute, went on the record with support for the public policy concept, but opposed the funding mechanism.

Data supplied by the Anheuser-Busch Companies projects 75 direct job losses in brewing and distribution, said Mike Hillerby, the company’s Nevada lobbyist. The tax hikes would also cause 119 indirect job losses, he said. A representative for Miller Coors weighed in with similar concerns.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States offered a gloomier projection, showing 700 job losses, concentrated in Nevada’s hospitality industry.

The Council submitted a written statement pointing to the existing high rate of taxation on spirits.

“For a typical bottle of distilled spirits purchased in Nevada, over 50 percent of the price already goes to pay a tax or fee of some kind,” the statement says. The proposed tax scheme would raise the cost of a bottle of spirits by 4.5 percent, according to the Council.

On behalf of Altria, parent company of Marlboro and Philip Morris products, Nevada lobbyist Sam McMullen called SB 181 a “great public solution.” He also warned that a higher cigarette tax will send smokers to neighboring states with lower taxes for their purchases. He presented a map illustrating the revenue drain from Nevada into other states after a 2016 cigarette tax increase.

“We raised the tax a dollar (per pack) and lost 32.33 percent of the revenue,” said McMullen.

All opponents said they are reserving their fiscal arguments for an impending presentation at the Senate Finance Committee.

Committee Chair Pat Spearman challenged opponents on their support for the policy, considering they don’t support the taxes to fund it.

“Have you all thought of another way to do this?” Spearman asked. The industry had no specific suggestions, representatives said.

Segerblom enlisted the Drug Policy Alliance to testify about the heroin treatment program. Senior Staff Attorney Lindsay LaSalle told the committee there is scientific support for administering pharmaceutical grade heroin to addicts in specialized, controlled clinics.

“It might at first blush seem radical or controversial to give heroin to people who are addicted to street heroin,” she said, calling it a treatment of last resort. The program is intended to help 10-15 percent of the heroin-using population who have failed to clean up using 12-step and other methods, LaSalle said.

Drug rehabilitation experts and a police officer from Vancouver testified to the effectiveness of the program in that city. A woman in recovery from heroin addiction told the panel that receiving the drug in a supervised setting removed the chaos from her life as she struggled with her habit.

Twin Mustang Scores Double Gold at Lodi Competition

Jason Schultz, snapped at home with his medal winners on April 2, 2017

April 3, 2017 – Winemaking success happens when you keep and open mind and try different things. So says Jason Schultz, whose Twin Mustang 2014 Edelweiss has just captured a double gold medal at the Bottle Shock Open Home Wine Competition in Lodi.

The Edelweiss experiment started with Frontenac Gris planted in 2007 at Twin Mustang Vineyards, where wife Debora and the couple’s twin sons also tend the vines. The Frontenac Gris had an acidic character, like a Sauvignon Blanc, Schultz told Grape Basin News. It seemed destined to blend well with a sweeter variety like the Edelweiss they’d planted in 2010.

The 2014 blend was the second Edelweiss experiment at Twin Mustang.

“What we did differently this time was to add a small amount of Edelweiss grape juice that we saved from the pressing before bottling,” Schultz explained. “This added a nice sweet flavor at the front of the wine, while the Gris added a nice acid balance at the end.”

And there was an unexpected benefit.

“It added a small amount of bubbles as the juice reacted with the tiny amounts of yeast still present in the wine,” said Schultz. “Beer brewers call this bottle fermentation. It actually aids in the overall balance of the wine.”

While the amateur competition is open to winemakers across the country, Twin Mustang was the only Nevada contestant. The winery also grabbed a silver medal for its variation on a Frontenac that’s performed well in past competitions. The 2014 Frontenac was slightly softened, blended with 20 percent Merlot.

Published results from the competition show one other hybrid wine in the competition, a Chambourcin from Eastern Missouri.

“We grow hybrid grapes due to our alkaline soils in Spanish Springs,” Shultz said. “Even little-known hybrid varieties, when done correctly from vine to wine can yield excellent results in established competitions.”

The Bottle Shock Open was spawned out of the necessity as budget cuts reduced the opportunity for amateur winemakers to compete at California’s state and county fairs, its organizers say.

The Bottle Shock Open website cites as its notable feature special attention to educating the winemakers.

“We feel it is extremely important that home winemakers who enter a wine competition get value for their efforts,” the website says. “Everyone gets a full, written evaluation of the status of their wines.”

View an example here.

Schultz believes the recognition in a California competition validates northern Nevada’s potential as a wine region. This competition was the fourth annual Bottle Shock Open.