CARSON CITY, NV - May 18, 2021
Today, Nevada National Guard Maj. Gen. Ondra L. Berry presented Senate Bill 440, sponsored by Governor Sisolak, before the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development.
If passed, the bill would create an annual temporary sales tax exemption every year on Nevada Day (observed) and the weekend immediately following the holiday. The holiday would affect about 4,400 active members of the Nevada National Guard and members of their household.
“I would like to thank General Ondra L. Berry for presenting this important piece of legislation today aimed at supporting the brave men and women of Nevada’s National Guard that have continued to step up as the heroes our State needed during this COVID-19 crisis,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak. “Since the start of their largest and lengthiest activation in the history of Nevada, members of the National Guard have been essential in supporting our State’s COVID-19-related missions. I proposed this sales tax holiday for Guard members as one way we can show our deep appreciation for all they have done and continue to do for our great State.”
Major General Ondra L. Berry’s Introductory remarks, as prepared for delivery can be found here:
“Good afternoon Madame Chair, and members of the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development. I am Major General Ondra Berry and on behalf of Governor Sisolak, I thank you for the opportunity to present Senate Bill 440. The Governor’s proposed bill will amend existing law as well as create a sales tax holiday for certain members of the Nevada National Guard and certain relatives of such members. To assist the committee with any questions, virtually in attendance with me today is:
- Director Melanie Young – Director of the Nevada Department of Taxation
- Mr. Kevin Benson – General Counsel to the Office of the Governor
- Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Remus – State Judge Advocate to the Nevada National Guard
Existing Nevada law provides an exemption from certain sales and use tax for members of the Nevada National Guard who are called into active overseas service for the period during which the member is deployed. The Governor’s proposed bill would amend NRS 372.7281 to revise existing language and additionally create a sales tax holiday for members of the National Guard who are residents of Nevada but who have not been called to active duty. This tax holiday will occur over three days on the date on which Nevada day is observed and the following Saturday or Sunday.
It has been more than one year since the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in the largest and lengthiest activation of the Nevada National Guard in its 160-year history. As the virus began to spread rapidly in March of 2020, the Nevada National Guard entered an elevated and unprecedented role in leading the state’s emergency response.
Nevada National Guardsmen and women immediately volunteered for a variety of missions to include the logistical movement of personal protective equipment to front-line medical personnel, the distribution of food items to our most vulnerable resident populations, and the construction and employment of multiple mass community-based testing sites. Of the about 4,400 total uniformed personnel assigned to the Nevada National Guard, more than 1,400 of its citizen soldiers and airmen, or one-third of the force, have been activated in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, nearly 450 Guardsmen and women continue to remain activated and are now additionally facilitating multiple vaccine distribution sites across Nevada.
Of significant note, the citizen soldiers and airman of the Nevada National Guard simultaneously conducted five major overseas combat deployments as well as positioned hundreds of citizen soldiers and airmen to Washington DC — standing sentry following the January 6th siege of the United States Capitol.
The Nevada National Guard has never been more engaged or visible within our communities. To provide an overview of this proud service to you, here is the Nevada National Guard’s COVID-19 response by the numbers:
- 10 million articles of personal protective equipment distributed to front-line first responders
- 2.9 million meals distributed to residents across the state
- 860,000 COVID-19 tests conducted
- 1.75 million vaccines supported at multiple sites throughout the State
- 721,000 vaccines directly administered in the arms of Nevada residents
For one example, Army Specialist Jermaine Longmire, a graduate of Reno High School, took the initiative to learn Paiute and Shoshone greetings to speak with tribal members as they arrived to COVID testing sites. Longmire, and other team members of the Nevada National Guard’s mobile testing team, lead 40 COVID-19 collection sites in remote locations across the state. These sites were significant in the state’s ability to track, trace, and stop the spread of the virus on Tribal lands and in rural Nevada.
Not all Nevada Guardsmen responded to the pandemic in their military uniform. Army First Lieutenant Sparkle Mccuiston, a graduate of Cheyenne High School, was one of the first citizen soldiers to engage in the fight against the COVID-19 virus. Mccuiston responded in early March of last year working as an infectious disease nurse at her civilian job in Clark County. Mccuiston, along with more than 240 Nevada Guardsmen work full-time as civilian critical-care medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and dental technicians. Members of the Nevada National Guard commit to military duty in a part-time status while balancing civilian employment, family lives and higher education. Hundreds have been called away from full-time civilian jobs to assist the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response. The state is indebted to their service before self.
Although there will be a small fiscal impact in revenue to the State, there is no denying the indispensable role the Nevada National Guard has played during the state’s critical time of need. The Governor’s bill, and the tax holiday it creates over the Nevada Day weekend, is a much appreciated token of gratitude to the families of men and women who have sacrificed so much during this pandemic. Without reservation, these citizen soldiers and airmen, from our very own communities, will continue to lead to Nevada through our recovery and beyond. The Nevada National Guard is always ready, always there - neighbors helping neighbors.
Thank you, Madam Chair and the members of this committee, for your time today. The state representatives and I are ready to answer questions and are happy to walk through the mechanics involved with any section of this bill.”