Laws governing local ballot measures in Nevada

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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All Nevada local governments have a mandated initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Nevada. It explains:

  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Note that Nevada is one of twenty-four states that allow the initiative process at the statewide level.

Types of local government

Local government in Nevada consists of:

  • 16 county governments
  • 19 incorporated city governments.

There are also 138 special districts and 17 independent school districts.[1]

In addition, there are many unincorporated towns. While unincorporated towns may have a local board, most services and governance are provided by the respective county.

City classifications:

Incorporated cities in Nevada may be classified as:

  • Charter city: of which there are 12 (Boulder, Caliente, Carlin, Carson City, Elko, Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Reno, Sparks, Wells, and Yerington)[2]
  • General law city: of which there are 7 (Ely, Fallon, Fernley, Lovelock, Mesquite, West Wendover, and Winnemucca)

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Nevada

School bond and tax elections in Nevada are held under three different circumstances:

  • To issue new taxes to fund new construction or capital improvements of school facilities.
  • If a county school district needs to exceed the fifteen percent debt limit mandated by Nevada revised statues.
  • At the statewide level over state level school funding in regards to the Nevada budget.

Local recall rules

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The citizens of Nevada are granted the authority to perform a recall election by Section 9 of Article II of the Nevada Constitution, which says:
"Every public officer in the State of Nevada is subject, as herein provided, to recall from office by the registered voters of the state, or of the county, district, or municipality which he represents."
For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Nevada

Initiative process availability

The local units of government in Nevada that make the initiative process available are:

  • General law cities, all 7 of which have a state mandated initiative and referendum process for ordinances.
  • Charter cities, all 12 of which have a state mandated initiative and referendum process for charter amendment. All 12 charter cities also defer to the state law requirements for initiative for ordinances as well.
  • General law counties, all 16 of which have a state mandated initiative and referendum process for ordinances.[3]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Section 4 mandates the powers of initiative and referendum to all cities and counties.

Article 19, Section 4:

The initiative and referendum powers provided for in this article are further reserved to the registered voters of each county and each municipality as to all local, special and municipal legislation of every kind in or for such county or municipality. In counties and municipalities initiative petitions may be instituted by a number of registered voters equal to 15 percent or more of the voters who voted at the last preceding general county or municipal election. Referendum petitions may be instituted by 10 percent or more of such voters.[4]

Nevada Constitution, Article 8, Section 8 provides for charter creation and amendment by the electors.

Article 8, Section 8:

Municipal corporations formed under general laws.  The legislature shall provide for the organization of cities and towns by general laws and shall restrict their power of taxation, assessment, borrowing money, contracting debts and loaning their credit, except for procuring supplies of water; provided, however, that the legislature may, by general laws, in the manner and to the extent therein provided, permit and authorize the electors of any city or town to frame, adopt and amend a charter for its own government, or to amend any existing charter of such city or town.[4]

Statutes

Nevada Revised Statutes 268.010 mandates charter amendment through initiative and referendum petitions.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes 268.010

Nevada Revised Statutes sections 295.085 and 295.200 mandates the powers of initiative and referendum to all general law cities and counties. Process requirements are also found in Chapter 295.

NRS 295.085  Registered voters’ power of initiative and referendum concerning county ordinances.  The registered voters of a county may: 1.  Propose ordinances to the board and, if the board fails to adopt an ordinance so proposed without change in substance, adopt or reject it at a general election. 2.  Require reconsideration by the board of any adopted ordinance and, if the board fails to repeal an ordinance so reconsidered, approve or reject it at a general election.[4]
NRS 295.200  Registered voters’ power of initiative and referendum concerning city ordinances.  The registered voters of a city may: 1.  Propose ordinances to the council and, if the council fails to adopt an ordinance so proposed without change in substance, adopt or reject it at the next general city election or general election. 2.  Require reconsideration by the council of any adopted ordinance and, if the council fails to repeal an ordinance so reconsidered, approve or reject it at the next general city election or general election.[4]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Chapter 295

Initiative process features in general law cities

A guide to local ballot initiatives
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The initiative and referendum process for general law cities is detailed in Nevada Revised Statutes 295.195-295.220.[5]


Initiative process features in charter cities

While charter cities may be able to alter some requirements of the initiative process for ordinances through home rule powers, all 12 defer to the general law provisions detailed above.

The initiative and referendum process for charter amendment in charter cities is detailed in Nevada Revised Statutes 268.010[6]


Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

Local I&R Laws in the 50 States
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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
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List of Most Populated Cities in Nevada
City[7] Population City Type Next election
Las Vegas 589,317 Charter 2015
Henderson 260,068 Charter 2015
Reno 227,511 Charter 11/4/2014[8]
North Las Vegas 219,020 Charter 2015
Sparks 91,195 Charter N/A
Carson City 55,439 Charter 11/4/2014[9]
Fernley 19,327 General law 11/4/2014[10]
Elko 18,546 Charter N/A
Mesquite 15,423 General law N/A
Boulder City 15,166 Charter N/A


External links

References