Teachers union calls for withdrawal of Nevada polling measures
By SAM METZ AP / Report for America
CARSON CITY, Nevada (AP) – Political action committees backed by Nevada’s largest teachers’ union are suing the secretary of state to remove two of their own tax measures from the 2022 poll.
“The Secretary of State has no discretion under the law to refuse to allow petitioners to withdraw their respective own initiative petitions.
The lawsuit is the latest development in a protracted battle over taxes and education funding in Nevada that has entangled the two major political parties as well as the state’s most powerful industries and interest groups. . He will likely be watched closely in Nevada due to his potential to influence next year’s midterm elections and to train voters concerned about education and taxes.
Political Action Committees – whose lawyer also represents Democrats in the Nevada Legislature – argue that new state law allows petitioners to withdraw their voting initiatives if polling day is in 90 days or more and cite a July notice from Nevada Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford.
Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican who oversees the state’s elections, wrote in a September letter to Ford that the state’s constitution requires her to submit initiatives to the 2022 ballot.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday asks the court to prevent the secretary of state from putting initiatives on the ballot.
The Clark County Education Association, which has 18,000 members, spent much of 2020 collecting the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to qualify them, arguing that Nevada would be able to better fund education with the additional revenue from the general fund that taxes would provide. The first initiative would effectively increase sales taxes in Las Vegas to almost 9.9%, and the second would increase the gambling tax rate from 6.75% to 9.75%.
The union submitted them after lawmakers cut funding for K-12 education in 2020 amid the pandemic and a budget deficit. Both measures received a frosty reception from Democrats who control the Statehouse and the powerful Las Vegas resort industry, who fear the tax hikes could scare tourists off.
State law typically requires lawmakers to present petition-based proposals for consideration within 40 days of tabling signatures, otherwise measures automatically head to the ballot in the next election. Lawmakers did not vote on them and later in the legislative session state law was revised to allow petitioners to withdraw their initiatives.
In the 2021 legislative session, John Vellardita, executive director of the Las Vegas-based union, said the purpose of the initiatives was to “start a conversation” between lawmakers. The suspended threat helped force major Nevada industries to come to the table in 2021 and negotiate a mining tax increase, which lawmakers finally passed on the last day of the 2021 legislative session.
With more than $ 85 million of new revenue earmarked for education, John Vellardita, executive director of the Las Vegas-based union, has vowed to withdraw initiatives from the 2022 poll. He told The Associated Press in June that its strategic use of them had contributed to the adoption of the mining tax and to an increase in the financing of education.
In a statement on Wednesday, Vellardita said the initiatives were aimed at generating new income for education and had not been backed by the union since lawmakers increased funding for education in May.
The secretary of state’s office said it could not comment on the pending litigation.
Metz is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.
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