Nevada Public Collective Bargaining Initiative (2012)

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The Nevada Public Collective Bargaining Initiative, also known as the "Open Government Initiative Petition," did not make on the November 2012 statewide ballot as an indirect initiated state statute.

On November 8, 2010 Gov. Jim Gibbons announced that initiative petitions for the measure would not be submitted. Instead Gibbons said the proposed plan would be introduced as a bill in the 2011 legislative session.[1]

The proposal called for making collective bargaining negotiations between local governments and employee associations on salaries and benefits public. Specifically the initiative proposed removing exemptions, such as collective bargaining, from the state's Open Meeting Law. According to 2010 Nevada law only final approval of a bargaining pact would have been required to be conducted in an open meeting. The petition was launched on May 10, 2010 by Gov. Jim Gibbons.[2]

Support

The measure was sponsored and supported by Gov. Jim Gibbons. "The objective of this initiative and this process is to open up those negotiations to public scrutiny. We’re taking nothing away from their negotiating abilities. 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," said Gibbons.[3]

Assemblyman Ty Cobb said, "We’re not going to get any conservative issues of great substance through this liberal Legislature. So going directly to the voters is a good idea." Cobb added that the idea in terms of public policy was a good one. Transparency, he said, is greatly needed in collective bargaining.[3]

Opposition

State Sen. Mike Schneider argued that applying open meeting law requirements to collective bargaining won't work. "People at the negotiating table get mad at each other. 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," said Schneider.[3]

Some lawmakers and union officials argued that Gov. Gibbons' proposal is only a distraction from his run for political office.

Bruce Snyder, an attorney for the Las Vegas City Employees Association, like Sen. Schneider, said he didn't believe "true and honest negotiations" would take place if the initiative was approved. Open meetings, said Snyder, would lead to either grandstanding or pandering to the audience causing no real negotiation.[4]

Use of public resources questioned

About two months following Gov. Jim Gibbons' proposal of the "Open Government Initiative" concerns regarding the use of public resources began to increase. According to reports the Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff Stacy Woodbury said staff has worked on the initiative and drawn up instructions for signature gatherers. Woodbury added that staff plans to hand the process to a private volunteer committee and plans to hire professional signature gatherers. According to state officials state funds, however, are not being used for the initiative.[5]

According to Secretary of State Ross Miller, the governor should be cautious in the manner he advocates for the initiative because he can only do so in a private capacity. "It’s clear that the governor can only run his initiative petition as a private individual. He can’t use resources of his office or other state employees to organize or collect signatures," said Miller. However, Woodbury disagrees. She said that the initiative is a policy of the governors and therefore the staff can aid with the initiative as they would for a proposed bill.[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Nevada signature requirements

According to reports, supporters were required to collect 97,002 valid signatures to send it to the legislature. If the legislature failed to act on the measure it would have been placed on the 2012 ballot. On June 3, 2010 Gov. Gibbons announced that the petition had passed the legal challenge period, thus allowing for the petition process to begin.[6]

However, on November 8, 2010 Gov. Jim Gibbons announced that initiative petitions for the measure would not be submitted. Instead Gibbons said the proposed plan would be introduced as a bill in the 2011 legislative session.[1]

See also

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References