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Nevada Sports Arena initiative survives lawsuit challenge, state supreme court may be next

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May 10, 2011

Nevada

CARSON CITY, Nevada: The statewide sports arena ballot measure lives to fight another day.

According to reports, Nevada First Judicial District Court Judge Todd Russell has made a ruling on a lawsuit alleging that there had been fraud and misconduct in the gathering of petition signatures for the indirect initiated state statute. On May 9, 2011, Russell ruled that the initiative did indeed gather enough signatures to advance to the ballot.

The proposed initiative would allow a 20,000-seat sports arena on the Las Vegas Strip. Specifically it would impose a 0.9 cent sales tax in a taxing district near the proposed arena. The revenue would finance bonds to construct the sports venue.[1]

According to Russell, opponents who filed the lawsuit double counted invalid signatures. He also tossed the argument by the plaintiffs that the county clerks allegedly inflated signatures counts. According to reports, the plaintiffs, Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs, can appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, which the group is considering. No official word from the group has been made concerning this.[2]

According to reports, the lawsuit argued that the petition circulation process was tainted by fraudulent behavior by engaging in the use of false advertisements. For example, the lawsuit points to the use of pervasive lies about the details of the initiative (including the location of the proposed arena) and false statements about who circulated the petitions and obtained the signatures.[3]

Prior to the lawsuit, supporters of the citizen-initiated ballot measure were required to collect 97,002 valid signatures to send it to the legislature.

More than 200,000 were filed with state officials on November 8, 2010. According to the Nevada Secretary of State's office, a total of 221,874 signatures were filed. The signatures were then returned to the state's counties for verification that 5 percent of the submitted signatures were registered voters.

In early December 2010 the Nevada Secretary of State verified that the measure had sufficient signatures to be referred to the legislature for consideration. The legislature had the option to act on the measure, such as implementing it without public vote, but did not. Since the lawmaking body declined to do so, the measure, currently, will appear on the 2012 ballot.

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