Posts Tagged ‘initiative petition’

Business Margin Tax Initiative Petition Filed, Legal Challenge Expected

By Sean Whaley | 12:44 pm June 6th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A business margin tax initiative petition filed with the Secretary of State’s office won’t see signature gathering efforts start right away because a legal challenge to the proposal is expected, a teachers union official said today.

But Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association, who filed the petition to establish the tax that would bring in $800 million a year from large Nevada corporations, said it is expected to withstand any legal scrutiny. The language has been vetted by several attorneys, including association attorney James Penrose, she said.

“We usually go through about a month looking for any kind of legal challenges,” Warne said. “We expect that there will be some coming.”

NSEA President Lynn Warne answers questions about the margin tax proposal filed today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Even with delays due to legal efforts to derail the proposal, there will be no difficulty in collecting more than enough signatures from registered voters by November to put the proposal to the Legislature in 2013, she said. The Legislature has 40 days to approve the proposal or it goes to the voters in 2014.

Called the “Education Initiative”, the actual language implementing the 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year is 32 pages long.

Penrose said the mining industry would be required to pay the tax the same as other businesses. The gaming industry would pay the tax on non-gaming revenue, such as hotel operations.

Warne said a number of groups have expressed interest in joining with the teachers and the AFL-CIO in supporting the measure, which she said will created a broad-based business tax that will ensure public education won’t face further cuts to programs or require teacher layoffs.

While complex, Warne said she expects voters will support the margin tax proposal in 2014 should the Legislature fail to act.

“We believe that they (voters) are looking for a fair, broad-based tax but they are looking for funding for schools, for kids, to make sure Nevada moves off the bottom in per pupil expenditures,” she said.

If the tax proposal is approved by the Legislature in 2013, the liability would begin in 2014 with the first collection due in January 2015. If approved by voters in November 2014, the liability would begin in 2015 with the first collection due in January 2016.

Warne said the proposal relies on the Texas margin tax, and Assembly Bill 582 of the 2011 Nevada legislative session, for its implementation.

If implemented, the tax revenue would flow to the state general fund and not be earmarked for public education, but Warne said the revenue pie would expand and provide more money for the public schools.

“The Legislature will fund education as they deem appropriate,” she said. “There will just be more revenue for them to be able to appropriate to education. We hope they do so properly.”

While the language has just now been filed explaining how the tax would be levied, the proposal has already come in for  criticism from a number of sources.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said he opposes the tax and said tax policy discussions need to be considered by the Legislature, not at the ballot box.

Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller, who earlier this year proposed petitions to raise both the gaming and mining tax, called the margin tax a “destructive, terribly complex tax.” Miller had filed his proposals as a way to offer voters alternatives to a margin tax, which he anticipated would be sought by teachers, He dropped his efforts in April.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute has also criticized the tax. Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director at NPRI, said in a statement issued Tuesday that a margins tax would be a “disaster” for Nevadans.


Audio clips:

NSEA President Lynn Warne says she believes voters will support the tax if asked to do so:

060612Warne1 :25 per pupil expenditures.”

Warne says the money will go to the general fund but that public education should benefit:

060612Warne2 :09 do so properly.”

Warne says the association will wait at least 30 days to collect signatures because legal challenges are expected:

060612Warne3 :11 are seen through.”


Carson Judge Rules Against Personhood Petition Seeking To Define Life As Starting At Conception

By Sean Whaley | 6:08 pm December 21st, 2011

CARSON CITY – A Carson City district judge today ruled an initiative petition to amend the state constitution to define human life as beginning at conception was too vague and so could not be circulated to qualify for the November 2012 ballot.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson ruled from the bench after an hour of argument from attorneys representing Personhood Nevada and the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the proposal in court.

“It looks to me like this is unnecessarily broad,” Wilson said at one point in the hearing. He also said it was vague and did not clearly state what its intent was. The description of effect required for such ballot measures was also unclear and could not be rehabilitated, he said in his ruling.

Olaf Vancura and Candy Best with Personhood Nevada talk about their proposed initiative petition before a court hearing today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Attorney Gary Kreep, with the United States Justice Foundation based in California, represented Personhood Nevada. He said the proposal to amend the Nevada constitution to define a person as starting at “biological development” was clear and did not violate the requirement that ballot proposals deal with a single subject.

He acknowledged that the effects  of the proposed change to the constitution to include the phrase “the term ‘person’ includes every human being” could be numerous, however, as the definition was applied to various areas of state law.

But Kreep said the ramifications of the proposal would become clear to voters as the measure was debated before election day.

ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, representing Nevada voters opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment, argued that registered voters would not have a clear understanding of what the effect of the proposal would be if asked to sign the petition to place the measure on the ballot.

Opponents of the proposal were happy with Wilson’s ruling.

“Obviously we’re pleased that the court agreed with us that it’s important that voters fully understand the sweeping impacts that these initiatives would have and we’re pleased to see that this one cannot go forward,” said Elisa Cafferata, president and CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

Kreep said after the hearing the group will have to assess whether to appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court. The Personhood group lost on similar grounds in 2010 when it tried to circulate a similar petition to Nevada voters.

Personhood Nevada could potentially file a revised initiative petition with the secretary of state’s office, but then the legal review process would begin all over again.

“The abortion providers, according to Congressional testimony by former employees, make millions and hundreds of millions of dollars off of selling body parts,” Kreep said following Wilson’s ruling. “They get hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid. And it feeds the attorneys who litigate for them to keep the death machine going.”

Wilson on Monday ruled that a separate proposed constitutional amendment submitted by the Nevada Prolife Coalition to outlaw abortion did not violate a rule for ballot measures requiring them to address only a single subject and he allowed the petition to go forward.

Cafferata said opponents are still evaluating whether to appeal that decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Groups seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot would need to collect 72,352 valid signatures by June 19. The measure would have to be approved by voters twice, in 2012 and again in 2014, to take effect.

Before the hearing, Olaf Vancura, a member of the Board of Directors of Personhood Nevada, said the proposed amendment is simple: “The sole purpose of this initiative is to clarify the definition of what a person is in the state of Nevada. And that’s why it is a simple seven words, ‘the term person includes every human being.’ ”

The Personhood effort is a national one, with measures being sought for placement on the ballot in several states. One test of the measure came in Mississippi in November, where it was rejected by voters.


Audio clips:

Elisa Cafferata, president and CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, says opponents of the Personhood petition are pleased with the ruling:

122111Cafferata :16 cannot go forward.”

Olaf Vancura, a member of the Board of Directors of Personhood Nevada, says the proposals is simple:

122111Vancura :12 every human being.”

Attorney Gary Kreep, representing Personhood Nevada, says abortion supporters make millions on the practice:

122111Kreep :15 death machine going.”

New Effort Under Way In Nevada To Establish Secret Ballot Requirement In Unionization Votes

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:25 pm July 26th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A group seeking to mandate the use of secret ballots in all elections involving union representation has filed an initiative petition to make such a requirement the law in Nevada.

The proposal to amend Nevada state law was filed July 15 with the Secretary of State’s office and lists Steve Wark of Las Vegas as the state chairman of the Save Our Secret Ballot effort.

The group had filed a similar initiative petition proposal in February seeking to amend the state Constitution to implement the secret ballot requirement, but no signatures of registered voters were turned in to qualify the measure by a June deadline.

The latest effort seeks to amend state law rather than the constitution. If the group can gather just over 97,000 signatures by a Nov. 9 deadline, the proposal would go to the 2011 Legislature for its consideration. If the Legislature failed to enact the change within 40 days, it would go to the voters in 2012.

The description of effect for the initiative says it “would recognize the fundamental right to vote by secret ballot in all elections for employee representation. Secret ballot elections will provide employees the right to vote in privacy to determine majority support for a labor union.”

Under current Nevada law, if the responsible governmental administrative agency has a good faith doubt about the majority support of a labor union in a local government workplace, it can order a secret ballot election.

Under federal law governing private-sector employees, if 30 percent or more of the employees request a secret ballot election, then the responsible federal administrative agency must hold one. This initiative would require a secret ballot election in every case.

Even with Nevada approval, the petition notes that a change in federal law would be required for it to be binding in the private-sector workplace.

Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative Passes Challenge Period, Signature Gathering Begins

By Sean Whaley | 11:03 am June 3rd, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons has announced his initiative petition to amend state law to subject public employee union negotiations to Nevada’s open meeting law has passed a legal challenge period, allowing the signature gathering process to begin.

“All around Nevada hundreds of hard working public servants are losing their jobs because their union leaders will not re-open their contracts and accept salary reductions and benefits adjustments,” Gibbons said. “We are losing talented government workers to the unemployment rolls. Unions have a stranglehold on local government, and it’s time for that to stop. Collective bargaining involving public funds must be open to the public. Secret backroom deals between public employee unions and state and local governments must stop. The people of Nevada should expect no less from their government.”

The Steering Committee for the OPEN Government Initiative has until Nov. 9 to gather the 97,002 necessary valid signatures from Nevada’s three Congressional districts to place the petition initiative before the 2011 Nevada Legislature. Should the initiative petition not be approved by the Legislature, it will go forward to a vote of the people in the 2012 general election.

“My office has been flooded with calls from people who want to help circulate petitions and enact this initiative into law. Please contact us now as we move quickly forward to gather signatures,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons has set up a special e-mail address to contact the OPEN Government Initiative at . A web site will follow in the next few weeks. Those without e-mail access can call 775-684-5670 or send a letter to P.O. Box 4807, Carson City, NV 89702.

Gibbons said he twice tried during the 26th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature to amend laws relating to government collective bargaining without success, prompting him to use the initiative process to get the issue before the Legislature and voters.

Assembly Republicans were successful in getting a resolution passed urging the 2011 Legislature to consider ways to make the collective bargaining process more transparent.

“It’s time for the people of Nevada to step up and do what their elected Democrat legislators will not, and that is provide for accountability in public spending,” Gibbons said.

Legislators React to Governor’s Petition Drive to Create Transparency in Government Labor Negotiations

By Sean Whaley | 3:39 pm May 11th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons announced yesterday he is pursuing an initiative petition to subject labor negotiations between unions and local government entities to the open meeting law to give taxpayers access to the discussions.

Some Republican lawmakers welcomed the idea, saying the Democrat-controlled Legislature has been unwilling to consider such a proposal.

But a state Senate Democrat who will be serving in the 2011 session questioned from a practical standpoint whether the labor negotiation process would work if it had to be in the open and follow the very specific legal dictates of Nevada’s open meeting law.

Gibbons, in announcing his third effort to take an issue to the voters of Nevada, said he is going to the public because the Legislature refused to consider the idea at a special session held earlier this year.

“The objective of this initiative and this process is to open up those negotiations to public scrutiny,” he said.

“We’re taking nothing away from their negotiating abilities,” Gibbons said. “What we’re doing is saying if they are going to deal with taxpayer funds that those negotiations need to be open to the public so people can see, and watch, and understand exactly how those dollars are being spent and why.”

The proposal would repeal an exemption in state law allowing labor negotiations to be conducted behind closed doors. It would require collective bargaining proceedings to be subject to Nevada’s open meeting law, “just like any other meeting where public funds are discussed or spent.”

If Gibbons and his supporters can collect 97,002 valid signatures by a Nov. 9 deadline, the proposed change to state law would go to the 2011 Legislature. If the Legislature failed to enact the proposal, it would go to the voters in 2012.

The initiative effort will be operated independently of the governor’s office. A steering committee for the Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative has already been established that includes Gibbons and former state Sens. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, and Mark Amodei, R-Carson City.

Gibbons said he will work with mayors and other elected officials to ensure the measure has a fair hearing in the Legislature in 2012.

Gibbons said mayors have told him that closed-door negotiations affects their ability to negotiate.

State workers do not have collective bargaining.

When he discussed the initiative with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman yesterday, Gibbons said the mayor was positive about the concept but said it would have to be reviewed by his staff first.

A spokesman for Goodman acknowledged he did discuss the idea with Gibbons but added that he has to see the proposal first, and run it by the city manager, before offering any comment.

Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, said using the initiative process is the only way conservative lawmakers will get the issue heard.

“We’re not going to get any conservative issues of great substance through this liberal Legislature,” he said. “So going directly to the voters is a good idea.”

“I think it is a great idea in terms of public policy,” said Cobb, who is running for an open state Senate seat in Reno. “There needs to be a lot more transparency to that whole process.”

The Assembly Republican caucus in the special session that ended March 1 wanted such a law as part of a deal on solving the state’s budget crisis, but ultimately saw only a weak and nonbinding resolution on the issue win approval, he said.

Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, said he too favors transparency in local government labor negotiations. By the time the public finds out what deals have been struck between labor and government management officials, it is weeks after the fact, he said.

“It would require both sides to discuss issues in a more rational way,” Settelmeyer said.

The lawmaker, who is running for an open state Senate seat in the capital region, said he has seen questionable examples locally of school teachers getting small raises while administrators end up with double-digit gains in the closed-door negotiation process.

Since the Legislature would not consider the idea, the initiative petition process may be the only way to go, although Settelmeyer said he would be concerned if too many issues ended up as ballot questions for voters who may not have time to read all the information.

State Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, said labor negotiations go on for months and applying the open meeting law requirements to the process, including meeting notices posted in advance, would not work.

He suggested the move by Gibbons was aimed more at his tough primary election race, a claim Gibbons denied when he announced his proposal.

“People at the negotiating table get mad at each other,” Schneider said. “They yell and scream at each other. Now you have them meeting in the open and having discussions on film. They would be all goody two shoes and nothing would ever get done.”

Schneider said local elected officials have the final say over such agreements and they are the ones who should be held accountable by the voters if the pay and benefit packages being negotiated are too generous.

Gibbons, who is trailing in the polls in the Republican primary to former federal judge Brian Sandoval, said he has been working on the transparency issue for months. But legislative leaders even rejected his request to draft a bill on the subject for the special session, he said.

Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association, said there is nothing in the law now that would preclude a local government agency and collective bargaining unit to bargain in public if the two sides agreed to do so. She also noted that the Legislature in 2009 added an extra step to the collective bargaining process to give the public more opportunity to be informed about labor negotiations.

“Let’s allow the existing law to work,” Warne said.

She also questioned the timing of the Gibbons proposal.

“We believe it is a diversionary tactic on his part,” Warne said. “The real issue is the lack of funding for the public schools in Nevada.”

Brian Johnson, executive director of the Washington DC-based Alliance for Worker Freedom, said the organization always supports transparency, especially when it involves public sector unions where large amounts of taxpayer dollars are at stake.

But Johnson said an even better move would be to eliminate the requirement for collective bargaining altogether.

“Ideally we would not have mandated forced bargaining sessions,” he said. “When you have mandated bargaining, the unions always have the upper hand.”

Even so, Johnson said his group would support Gibbons’ proposal.

“Anytime we can get more transparency, it is at least a step in the right direction,” he said.

The Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF) was founded in 2003 as a non-partisan organization dedicated to combating anti-worker legislation and to promote free and open markets.

Gibbons has had a track record of success in getting measures qualified for the ballot. He qualified a measure requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes and voters approved it. He then got a proposal on the ballot requiring the Legislature to fund the public education budget before considering other spending requirements during a session. That too won voter approval.

Audio files (broadcasters may re-use these files at will):

Gibbons on his collective bargaining proposal 1

Gibbons on his collective bargaining proposal 2

Gibbons on his collective bargaining proposal 1
Gibbons on his collective bargaining proposal 2