City of Reno Proposed Amendment to Business License Ordinance

  • January 18, 2017

The City of Reno is proposing an amendment to its business license ordinance.

If approved, the proposed change would be that business license fees would be assessed based on the business’s gross receipts for goods sold/services performed within the City of Reno only (verses all sales anywhere).

In addition, two new business categories have been created: (1) manufacturing facility, and (2) warehousing/distribution center. Businesses in those categories would also be charged a fee of 10 cents per square foot of “total business footprint.”

A public workshop is being held Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Reno City Hall. At the workshop, City staff will review the proposed ordinance and collect comments. Please attend the workshop to learn more and to voice your opinion about the ordinance.

Additionally, you may submit written comments, data or arguments in writing about the ordinance until January 25, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Comments should be submitted to:
Reno City Hall
Business License Division-2nd Floor
1 East First Street, Reno, Nevada, 89501
Mail to: P.O. Box 1900, Reno, NV 89505
Email to: BusinessLic@reno.gov

Learn more in this recent Northern Nevada Business Weekly article.

Giving Tuesday

  • November 28, 2016

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Giving Tuesday

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Learn more at Giving Tuesday.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. In this spirit, Incline Law Group is sharing the organizations that we support with you.

Editor’s note: we might have a thing for snow sports around this office. 

Project MANA – Cassell von Baeyer, Partner

Mission: To reduce the incidence of hunger and its detrimental effects upon individuals, families, the community and the region.  In addition to providing hunger relief, we have developed programs designed to alleviate the causes of hunger and promote nutrition through education and awareness. Learn more at Project MANA.

Diamond Peak Ski Education Foundation – Andy Wolf, Partner

Mission: To offer season-long, affordable, challenging and fun training while fostering a life-long love for the sport of skiing. Training includes the mastery of ski techniques as well as focus in the areas of discipline, responsibility, goal setting, motivation and sportsmanship. Learn more at Diamond Peak Ski Education Foundation.

Far West Nordic Ski Education Association – Stacey Herhusky, Partner

Mission: We believe competitive cross-country skiing offers great benefits to the community and to individuals of all ages and abilities. As a division of the United States Ski Association (USSA), our mission is to promote, develop, and expand cross-country skiing within the USSA Far West Region (California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii). We accomplish this by working with ski clubs, ski areas, and directly with our membership of individuals and families. Learn more at Far West Nordic Ski Education Association.

High Fives Foundation – Jeremy Krenek, Associate Attorney

Mission: To support the dreams of mountain action sports athletes by raising injury prevention awareness while providing resources and inspiration to those who suffer life-altering injuries. Learn more at High Fives Foundation.

Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association – Heidi Shaughnessy

Mission: To promote the sport of cross country skiing through educational activities for children and adults. Learn more at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association.

Tahoe Safe Alliance – Willow Cornelius, Senior Legal Assistant

Mission: To end the incidence and trauma of intimate partner/domestic violence, sexual violence, and child abuse in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee.  Learn more at Tahoe Safe Alliance.

Kids in Need Foundation – Crystal Lyle, Legal Assistant

Mission: To ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. Learn more at Kids in Need Foundation.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care – Julie Malkin-Manning, Director of Marketing

Mission: To give Mother Nature a helping hand by raising and rehabilitating orphaned and injured wildlife so they may be released back to the wild. Learn more at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

 

Judge Flanagan upholds July Order v. Aaron Katz

Judge Flanagan upholds July Order v. Aaron Katz

  • September 22, 2016

September 21, 2016. Washoe District Judge Patrick Flanagan upholds July Order requiring Aaron Katz to pay IVGID its attorney’s in the sum of $226,466.80.

 On July 15, 2016, after five years of litigation, Washoe District Judge Patrick Flanagan entered an order awarding IVGID its attorney’s fees in the amount of $226,466.80 plus other court costs in the amount of $2,925.95. Within days after the award, Mr. Katz engaged counsel and filed a motion to alter or amend judgment, asking Judge Flanagan to undo his order awarding attorney’s fees. IVGID opposed the motion and the court entered an order on September 21, 2016, denying Mr. Katz’s challenge.

In stern, but somewhat colorful language, Judge Flanagan reiterated that the court has authority to award attorney’s fees against a party who has brought a frivolous or vexatious claim. A “frivolous” claim is one that is both baseless and made without a reasonable and competent inquiry. “Vexatious” is defined as an action without reasonable cause or excuse other than to harass for annoy. The court concluded:

“…this Court can find no other explanation for [Mr. Katz]’s actions other than to unnecessarily prolong this litigation with baseless and unreasonable claims.” …

“Throughout this litigation, [Mr. Katz] has shown that the motives for his claims were nothing more than to harass and burden the Defendant with excessive public records requests. In addition, [Mr. Katz]’s actions throughout this litigation have been nothing short of appalling and a waste of judicial resources. Again, by his actions, [Mr. Katz] has led this court to one undeniable conclusion: this was a frivolous lawsuit.”

The court’s entire order can be read here: katz-v-ivgid_order-09-21-16.

Guns and Marijuana

  • December 17, 2015

Two of the most controversial subjects in today’s political landscape involves the right to bear arms and the legalization of medical and/or recreational marijuana.  The gun debate has been on-going for decades now with many people demanding background checks and/or making certain types of guns illegal. With 23 states and the District of Columbia legalizing medical marijuana (four states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana), the implications of these new marijuana laws on current gun laws is becoming very interesting.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  Numerous cases have been before the U.S. Supreme Court and all have come out the same holding that private citizens of the United States have the right to keep and bear arms. See District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). While this is the law of the land, there are a few exceptions to the right to bear arms.

While more and more states are legalizing medicinal marijuana, the cultivation, possession, and/or distribution of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.  Marijuana, whether for recreational or medicinal use, remains classified as an illegal controlled substance under federal law. And, under federal law, it is illegal for a user of controlled substances to possess a firearm. Under 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(3) “it shall be unlawful for any person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)) to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”  §922 essentially prohibits medicinal marijuana patients from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition.

This raises a plethora of questions for gun owners who are medical marijuana Marijuana, Gunspatients and or dispensary owners. Until the federal laws are amended, it seems these people will have to choose between their right to bear arms and their access to medicine and/or ability to own and operate a dispensary.

Leases and Medical Marijuana Tenants

  • October 21, 2015

The State of Nevada legalized the use and cultivation of medical marijuana in 2014 and began allowing cannabis businesses to operate in 2015. While California voters approved the use of medical marijuana some two decades ago, California law makers only put into place a regulatory scheme in 2015 thereby allowing dispensaries to operate legally.

Legal-Cannabis-Sensi-Seeds-BlogCannabis law is currently a very fluid and rapidly changing area of law. The legalization of medical marijuana at the state level presents significant conflicts with federal law in numerous areas including drug policy, banking laws, criminal law and so much more. Under federal law, the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana – medical or not – is illegal. As a result of the past war on drugs, federal law provides some very severe penalties for violations of federal drug law, including forfeiture.

The federal government does have the right to seize property used in the cultivation, manufacturing or selling of cannabis. This can include real property where the owner of the real property is merely a landlord who does not participate in the cannabis business. While the federal forfeiture laws do have an “innocent owner defense” many state cannabis laws require the lease to specifically state that the lease is for purposes of cultivation, manufacturing or selling.

As noted above, this is a rapidly changing area of law. Just two days ago the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California issued a ruling (a somewhat scathing decision, in fact), based on the 2015 Appropriations Act, halting the Department of Justice from expending funds to enforce federal laws that interfere with state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Until the conflict between the state and federal laws governing the use and sale of marijuana are entirely resolved, providers of services, goods and property, including landlords (both commercial and in some cases residential) are advised to seek legal counsel and to address new contract and lease provisions such as “escape clauses” and stated compliance with state cannabis law.

Reno Revises Its Master Plan and Needs Your Input!

  • September 25, 2015

Every 20 years the City of Reno updates its master plan.  The master plan sets out the policies and goals for decision making and investment in Reno’s future development.  The City, through ReImagine Reno is seeking public input during this process. It is holding a number of workshops and has a quick survey you can fill out online. The survey is geared towards understanding the wants and needs of Reno residents with regard to housing, amenities and more. I just filled it out and found it to cover some pretty important issues. There is also an area where you can type in your own suggestions.

ReImagine-RenoBased on a report that I heard on the radio, ReImagine Reno is hoping to receive the input of 3000 residents.  3000 people? That is all? That is just barely 1.3% of the population of the City of Reno and less than 1% of the population of the County of Washoe. The future of our biggest little city will be shaped by our politicians and 1% of our residents?

Our biggest little city is a hidden gem, and is poised for some pretty big changes over the next decade. This is your chance to help shape what we become! Speak now or forever hold your peace….or at least for 20 more years.

Recent Lawsuits Challenge Nevada Private School Voucher Program

  • September 15, 2015

Nevada’s 2015 legislature passed SB302, a statewide private school voucher program. Under the law, any child who spends at least 100 consecutive days enrolled in a Nevada public school may apply for a direct transfer of public school fundschool_voucherss ($5,100 – $5,700 on average) to cover private school tuition and a wide variety of other expenses. Under the law, the money must be distributed by the state into individual education savings accounts (ESA’s), from which the funds may only be used to pay for private school tuition and other expenses. Read SB302 here.

The Nevada State Treasurer, Dan Schwartz, is busy setting up its program to administer applications and the distribution of the funds and has already established several application deadlines.

On August 27, 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLUNV), and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) filed a lawsuit in Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District (State Court) in Las Vegas challenging the law. The lawsuit is entitled Duncan v. State of Nevada and you can read it here.  The ACLU Lawsuit is filed on behalf of several citizens who assert that the vast majority of Nevada private schools are religious schools that include religious instruction in their programs, and then directly quotes the marketing materials of dozens of such religious private schools in support of that assertion. The Complaint concludes that the law violates Article XI Section 10 of the Nevada Constitution, which prohibits the use of public funds for any sectarian purpose. The lawsuit also claims that the program runs afoul of Article XI, Section 2, which requires the legislature to provide for a uniform system of common schools.  The ACLU Lawsuit has some very capable lawyers behind it.

On September 9, 2015, a second lawsuit, Lopez v. Schwartz, was filed in the First Judicial District Court in Carson City (also a Nevada State Court) challenging the same law by parents and students who are seeking to prevent loss of funding from their children’s public schools to pay for private schools. The second lawsuit is supported by an advocacy group called Educate Nevada Now (ENN). The ENN lawsuit likewise has several capable law firms behind it.

ENN’s challenge is based on several different legal grounds than the ACLU Lawsuit.  The parents and students in the ENN Lawsuit contend that the voucher law violates the Education Article of the Nevada Constitution in three ways:

  • The voucher law by its terms diverts funds earmarked by the Legislature exclusively for the operation of the public schools to pay for private schools and other private expenditures.
  • The voucher law reduces State-guaranteed funding for Nevada’s public schools below the level determined by the Legislature to be sufficient in each biennium budget.
  • The voucher law allows public school funding to pay for private schools that do not have to comply with the “uniform” non-discrimination, education performance and accountability standards that all Nevada public schools must follow.
(Source: Educate Nevada Now)

The stakes involved in the two lawsuits are truly enormous. The financial impact of the voucher program is massive, unpredictable and potentially unlimited.  The two lawsuits and the legal challenges they present to the new Nevada Private School voucher law will also put families and students in a state of limbo while the cases play out. The cases will ultimately find their way to the Nevada Supreme Court, which should have the final say in the matter because both cases are solely based on Nevada state statutory law and state constitutional law, not federal law.

My initial reaction is that the two lawsuits present significant and very serious legal challenges to Nevada’s school voucher program. I hope that readers of this blog post will actually take the time to read the complaint in each lawsuit (linked above) to fully understand the Nevada state constitutional provisions that support the two lawsuits.  I am sure many folks have preexisting beliefs about whether school vouchers are good or bad. Such beliefs really have little bearing on whether the law violates the provisions of the Nevada State Constitution quoted in the lawsuits. In fact, while many people are well-versed on the text of the United States Constitution, I think most Nevadans have little or no awareness of the content of the Nevada State Constitution and its Article on Education.

To be fair, I have not seen the State’s legal position. In fact, the State has yet to file anything in response to the lawsuits. It is likely that the State will find support for the law in cases from other states upholding private school voucher programs under the other states’ laws. The Nevada cases will be unique in their legal standing, however, because both the new Nevada law and the Nevada State Constitution are unique.

Nevada families trying to make education choices which rely on the financial support of the voucher program will be extremely frustrated by these legal challenges. Although the ACLU case poses a legal challenge to religious private schools receiving state money, both lawsuits could impact enrollment in other private schools that have no religious programming while the law is under attack. As mentioned, the ENN Lawsuit challenges any private school, religious or not, receiving state money.

This will be an interesting case to follow. The stakes could not be any higher.

 

 

Happy 800th Birthday Magna Carta

  • June 15, 2015

Eight Hundred years ago today, June 15, 1215, the Magna Carta was signed and sealed by King John of England.

Magna Carta

The Magna Carta or “Great Charter” of 1215 is a long list of  agreements between the King and barons designed to limit the king’s arbitrary powers. While the Magna Carta initially only lasted a number of weeks before it was annulled by the Pope, it is often cited as the earliest expression of the “rule of law” and the right to due process  of law.  There is much debate among historians and legal scholars over the true significance of the Magna Carta. While the Magna Carta only created rights for wealthy barons and lasted a short time before it was annulled, the idea of limiting the arbitrary powers of a monarch and the idea that one’s life, limb or property could not be taken without due process of law according to law, with decisions to be made by juries comprised of one’s peers, is considered foundational to our justice system today.

Happy birthday Magna Carta.

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