Muth: New biz group promises to disrupt chamber of political horrors


Attention: Nevada business owners. First, there was The Great Depression. Then there was The Great Society. Now get ready for…

THE GREAT DISRUPTION.

What Priceline and Expedia did to the travel industry; what Uber and Lyft did to the taxi industry; what Airbnb did to the hotel industry …

The new “REAL Chamber of Commerce” is hoping to do to the business association industry.

I recently heard about the REAL Chamber during my weekly interview on Kevin Wall’s “Live and Local” radio program. The prime movers-and-shakers of the project are former Nevada State Assemblyman Brent Jones and retired business executive Jerry Littman.

And here, in a nutshell, is the rationale for establishing this new organization:

If you’re a non-Big Gaming business in Nevada, which is constantly under threat of having your profits raided by the government and your time wasted by busy-body bureaucrats who seemingly have nothing better to do than make your life a living hell…

The Las Vegas/Metro Chamber of Commerce absolutely stinks on ice.

Its guiding philosophy is: “Go Along to Get Along.” And its motto is: “Thank you, sir. May I have another?”

The Chamber’s dereliction of duty has been going on for more than 20 years now and has hurt businesses statewide. But its most shameful performance came during the last legislative session when it supported the largest tax increase in Nevada history.

A tax increase that not only permanently jacked up the sales tax and vehicle registration fees, but doubled the cost of a business license while increasing the Modified Business Tax.

Worse, the bill also created a brand new anti-business gross receipts tax – the “Commerce Tax” - just like the one almost 80 percent of voters rejected at the polls just six months earlier.

That would be the same gross receipts tax that was slammed in a 2015 study by the Tax Foundation that the Chamber itself commissioned but ended up disowning and apologizing for after Gov. Brian Sandoval publicly attacked them over it. Not exactly a profile in political courage.

And to add insult to injury, that tax hike also created a new “Nevada IRS” that every business in Nevada must now report to - even if they’re not subject to the tax itself!

Plus, almost every legislator the Chamber endorsed in 2014 voted for this monstrosity.

May as well call it the “Chamber of Commerce Tax.”

Anyway, that betrayal was enough to start a mass exodus of businesses from the Las Vegas Chamber. And it was enough to cause Jones and Littman to start this alternative organization - which they promise will not compromise the interests of Nevada’s business community for legislative expediency.

A real business guard dog/pit bull has been needed in Nevada for a long time. And the REAL Chamber of Commerce may just be the disruption of the status quo the doctor ordered.

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com.