Deadline hits for Nevada initiatives
CARSON CITY (AP) – Supporters of proposed constitutional amendments to restrict government spending and to restrict land seizures by government agencies said they easily met Tuesday’s deadline for turning in enough signatures to ensure a spot on the Nov. 7 ballot.
But backers of four other initiatives, including one modeled after California’s Proposition 13 cap on property taxes, weren’t able to meet a minimum requirement of 83,184 valid signatures.
State Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, a candidate for governor who also is pushing the Tax and Spending Control initiative, said supporters of the plan to limit government spending were turning in nearly 153,000 signatures to county officials throughout Nevada.
Nearly 119,000 of those signatures were collected in the Las Vegas area while nearly 22,000 more were collected in the Reno area. County officials, working with the secretary of state’s office, now must start a three-week-long signature verification process.
TASC would limit increases in government spending based on the rate of population growth and inflation. It could require a vote of the people to raise taxes.
Opponents of the plan already are saying there are irregularities in the TASC signatures.
At a news conference in Las Vegas, Nevadans for Nevada, a labor-led coalition opposing the measure claimed signature gatherers were carrying a version of the petition that was different from the one filed with the secretary of state.
The version circulated by some used a different time period to calculate state spending limits, resulting in a $1.3 billion difference in possible state spending, said Danny Thompson, secretary-treasurer for the Nevada AFL-CIO.
“We don’t know how many of them are like that, but this is not some nickel-and-dime difference. It’s a massive difference between the two petitions,” Thompson said.
TASC committee spokesman Bob Adney said it’s possible a version of the petition, one downloaded off the committee’s Web site, might have “a one-comma difference.”
“That’s maybe 10 signatures, but 99.999 percent of the ones we gathered will be fine,” he said.
Both sides said they expect the matter to end up in court.
Beers said the challenges will be “frivolous” and predicted that voters will pass the plan by a better than 2-to-1 margin in November.
Supporters of Stop the Taking of Our Land, or PISTOL, a constitutional amendment to prevent governments from eminent domain abuses, said they turned in petitions signed by more than 136,000 Nevadans.
Don Chairez, a former judge and a Republican candidate for attorney general, led the petition drive. He said the idea is to stop governments from acquiring private land through eminent domain and then selling the land to facilitate private development.
The chairman of We The People Nevada, trying to get the California-style property tax cap on the ballot, said the group fell short in getting enough signatures. Advocates for the cap included conservative state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, R-Reno, who’s running for Congress.
Cliff Nellis said he would keep trying, noting that it took four attempts before California’s Proposition 13 got on the ballot. Nellis added that proponents faced “professional obstructionists” who hindered signature-gathering efforts.
“The process to pollute the people’s right to petition is a serious disenfranchisement of voters but this fight is far from over,” Angle stated.
Proponents of a plan to require daily physical education classes for all K-12 public school students said they collected about 80,000 signatures but that wasn’t enough.
Backers of the Truth in Science and Prohibition of Unfunded Mandates initiatives dropped efforts to qualify them for the ballot.
Las Vegas masonry contractor Steve Brown said he did not think his Truth in Science proposal would be passed by voters if it were on the ballot. The measure, which would have required teachers to instruct students that there are questions about evolution, was viewed by opponents as an opening to teach intelligent design.
The Nevada Association of Counties withdrew its Prohibition of Unfunded Mandates proposal. The measure would have prohibited state government from requiring local government to provide new services without providing additional funding.
AP Writer Kathleen Hennessey in Las Vegas contributed to this report.