Three Tax Initiatives Removed from Nevada Ballot

July 7, 2008

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, three tax-related initiatives were removed from Nevada’s November ballot by a judge despite having 100,000 signatures each (58,628 signatures, distributed from each county, is needed). The judge ordered the removal because the petitions failed to comply with new rules requiring signature gatherers to count the signatures and attest that all signatures were made in his or her presence. The requirements were adopted in July 2007 to combat fraud but have yet to be posted to the Secretary of State’s website.

The proposals:

Two of the petitions sought to raise the room tax collected by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority from 3 percent to 13 percent. One would give the money specifically to public education. The other would include public safety and other purposes as well as public schools.

The third petition would have changed Nevada’s initiative petition process to require a two-thirds vote of the people to raise any taxes or fees — the same super-majority the Legislature must get to do so. At present, a simple majority is all a petition needs to raise taxes.

The petitions for the first two proposals were successfully challenged by a member of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority. The third petition was successfully challenged by a member of the Nevada State Education Association.

Proponents are mulling their next move:

Former State Controller Steve Martin, a backer of the three initiatives, refused to say whether the ruling by Russell would be appealed to the Supreme Court.[…]

Scott Scherer, attorney for Nevadans for Fair Taxes that supported the petitions, said there was “substantial compliance” in gathering the signatures for the petition. He said there was no evidence of fraud involved in the gathering of the signatures.

Judge Russell asked Scherer how long it would take to correct the defective affidavits. Scherer said that could be accomplished in one or two weeks.

But in his ruling, the judge said, “We can’t go back and un-ring the bell.” He said the signatures of voters were collected under different standards and the backers should not be given a second chance to correct their mistakes.

More on Nevada here.


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