Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson has ordered two teacher union-backed tax initiatives be removed from the 2022 ballot, reversing Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s decision to move them forward.
As reported by The Globe, The Clark County Education Association, took to the streets during a pandemic shutdown and surprisingly gathered enough signatures for two ballot initiatives. These ballot initiatives would raise taxes on gambling revenues and sales taxes: from 6.75 percent to 9.75 percent of all gaming revenue of more than $250,000 in one month in which those proceeds would go to the general fund; sales taxes would increase by 1.5 percent with a portion directly allotted to education, bringing the state’s baseline sales tax rate to 8.35 percent, making Nevada the highest base-line tax rate in the nation. With counties have differing sales tax rates, that change would result in a 9.875 percent sales tax in Clark County, which would also be the highest local tax rate in the nation.
in lieu of the tax increase on the state’s mining industry, which was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Sisolak, the union agreed to withdraw these petitions. The Attorney General, Aaron Ford, supported this withdrawal, but Sec. of State Barbara Cegavske did not.
In her response, Cegavske cited the Nevada constitution as a basis for her rejection of their withdrawal:
In a letter sent to Attorney General Aaron Ford, Cegavske said a state law modified in the 2021 Legislature specifically to allow for the withdrawal of petitions does not comport with Article 19, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution, which contains no reference to withdrawal.
“The Nevada Constitution requires the Secretary of State to follow a procedure once an initiative petition has obtained the required number of verified signatures,” Cegavske’s letter reads. “As such, a statute cannot interfere with that duty.”
“Although our office received a request to withdraw a petition which obtained the required number of signatures … the Secretary of State anticipates following her duty to act as outlined in the Nevada Constitution by placing the initiative petition on the ballot during the 2022 general election for adoption or rejection by the voters.”
In response, members of the teachers union sued back in December. Last week, Judge Wilson ruled in their favor.
The Nevada Independent reports:
Wilson’s order largely agreed with the union members’ sentiment, noting he was “not convinced” about Cegavske’s interpretation of that wording’s intent.
“Reading the relevant constitutional and statutory provisions in harmony, the Secretary of State’s ministerial duty in this instance becomes clear: take no further action on these initiative petitions,” the order states.
Further, the order disagreed with Cegavske’s argument that the word “shall” in the Constitution required the initiative petitions automatically move to the ballot, as that interpretation would mean other restrictions on voter-driven initiatives were unenforceable because they were not explicitly laid out in the state constitution.”
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