Laws governing the initiative process in Nevada

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Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Fiscal review
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of Nevada may initiate statutes through the process of indirect initiative and constitutional amendments through the process of direct initiative. Once sufficient signatures have been collected, statutory initiatives are first presented to the Nevada State Legislature. If approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor, the proposed statute becomes law. If not, the law is submitted to voters at the next general election. However, upon the Governor's recommendation (and approval), the legislature may propose an alternative statute to voters. Proposed amendments proceed directly to a vote of the people, but must be approved at two consecutive elections.

In Nevada, citizens also have the power to refer laws to a vote of the people. If the law is rejected, then it is repealed. If it is affirmed, then the law remains in effect and cannot be repealed without a popular vote. The Nevada State Legislature may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments by a majority vote in two consecutive regular sessions--these only require approval in one election.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the scope and content of proposed initiatives. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

In Nevada, each proposed measure must address only one subject. Such laws are also known as single-subject rules. The Nevada Revised Statutes further clarify the requirement by stating:

"A petition for initiative or referendum embraces but one subject and matters necessarily connected therewith and pertaining thereto, if the parts of the proposed initiative or referendum are functionally related and germane to each other in a way that provides sufficient notice of the general subject of, and of the interests likely to be affected by, the proposed initiative or referendum."

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 009

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

In Nevada, an initiated measure may not make appropriations or require expenditures unless it also establishes a tax sufficient to cover the expense.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Section 6

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of Nevada ballot measures

Nevada law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes takes effect. The other measure does take effect. If two measures tie, neither measure takes effect.

In Nevada, legislatively-referred constitutional amendments must be approved by two separate Legislatures (before an election and afterward) in order to be placed on the ballot. If a conflicting amendment is passed at the intervening election, the proposed amendment will not be submitted to voters (unless it is re-proposed and twice-approved). If a compatible amendment affecting the same section is approved, the proposed amendment may be submitted.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Section 2 (6-5) & Article 16, Section 1 (2-3)

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[1][2][3]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

Prior to collecting signatures, proponents must file a draft of the petition with the Secretary of State, including the text of the measure and a brief summary of the effect of the measure.

  • An example of a initial petition filing can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Section 2 (6) ; Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 015 & Section 009

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

The Legislative Counsel reviews the petition and suggests technical changes.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 015

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The Fiscal Analysis Division analyzes the proposed measure to gauge its impact on state and local budgets. If this determination can be made, a fiscal note is drafted explaining this impact. Both the suggested revisions, the fiscal note, and the petition itself are then published on the Secretary of State's website.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 015

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: Nevada signature requirements

Proponents must collect signatures equal to 10% of the total votes cast in last general election. Nevada does not require a higher percentage for constitutional amendments than it requires for statutory initiatives, veto referendums, or statute affirmations.

Year Amendment Statute Veto referendum Statute affirmation
2014 101,666 101,666 101,666 101,666
2012 72,352 72,352 72,352 72,352
2010 97,002 97,002 97,002 97,002
2008 58,627 58,627 58,627 58,627

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Sections 2 & 3

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

Under Nevada's distribution requirement, proponents must collect signatures equal to 10% of the total votes cast in last general election in each of the state's congressional districts. Nevada's current rule developed in response to several legal challenges.

History

In 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state's "13 counties rule" was unconstitutional in ACLU v. Lomax. The rule required that initiative petitions be signed by a number of registered voters equal to 10% of the total votes cast in the preceding general election in each of 13 of Nevada's 17 counties. The court found that it was unconstitutional because it diluted the preferences of residents of densely populated counties.

In 2007, the Nevada State Legislature passed Nevada Senate Bill 549. SB 549 tweaked the previous distribution requirement by requiring these signatures from all of the state's 17 counties. The law did implement a formula to adjust the county requirement for county populations, but the formula only compensated for differences in the percentage of the population which voted--not for differences in population density or other factors. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the new law in February of 2008 and succeeded in having the US District Court for Nevada overturn the law in Marijuana Policy Project v. Miller.

In 2009, the Nevada State Legislature passed Senate Bill 212. The law created the existing requirement, but gave it a sunset date of July 1, 2011. The bill required the Legislature to establish petition districts for use after that date. On July 13, 2011, the Governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval (R), signed Senate Bill 133 which retained congressional districts as the basis of the distribution requirement.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 069 ; Nevada Senate Bill 549 ; Nevada Senate Bill 212 & Nevada Senate Bill 133

Restrictions on circulators

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

Nevada does not ban paying circulators by the signature.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Nevada does not require that petition circulators reside in the state. Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in a Colorado case, Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, the Nevada Constitution was interpreted to to require that signature gatherers be registered voters. (See linked section below.) However, following the decision, the Nevada Attorney General released an opinion, maintaining that the longstanding interpretation was not only a tenuous reading of the state constitution but also untenable in light of of Buckley. This revised interpretation is still in effect.[4]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295 ; Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Section 3 (1) & Nevada Attorney General Opinion 99-37 

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

Nevada law does not require a circulator's paid/volunteer status to be disclosed.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. Nevada law does mandate that signatures be collected in person.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 0575

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

In Nevada, initiated statutes, initiated amendments, and referendums/affirmations each have different deadlines and circulation periods. Although the state constitution provides dates for filing the completed petition with the Secretary of State, the relevant date for proponents is the date that petitions are due with county election officials. County officials forward the certified petitions to the Secretary.

Statutes:
  • The initial filing cannot be made before January 1 of the year preceding the next regular legislative session.
  • The petition must be filed with county officials by the second Tuesday in November of an even-numbered year.
  • The final filing must be made at least 30 days prior to the next regular session of the Legislature.
Amendments:
  • The initial filing cannot be made before September 1 of the year preceding the election year.
  • The petition must be filed with county officials by the third Tuesday in May of an even-numbered year.
  • The final filing must be made at least 90 days before the next regular general election.
Referendums/Affirmations
  • The initial filing cannot be made before August 1 of the year preceding the election year.
  • The petition must be filed with county officials by the third Tuesday in May of an even-numbered year.
  • The final filing must be made at least 120 days before the next general election.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Sections 1-2 & Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 056 & Chapter 293, Section 1276

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

Once signatures have been collected, they must be submitted to their respective county clerk for verification. The clerks take a preliminary count of the signatures and forward the figure to the Secretary of state. If the Secretary finds that the total number of signatures (from all counties) exceeds the requirement, the clerks proceed to verify the signatures. If not, the petition will not be presented to voters.

If the total number of signatures submitted is greater than 500, random sampling is used for verification. Either 5% or 500 of the signatures (whichever is greater) must be sampled. Once this process is complete, the certified results are forwarded to the Secretary, who again totals the figures. If the total is less than 90%, the measure does not qualify. If it is greater than 100%, the measure qualifies. If the total is between 90% and 100% of the requirement, then the signatures are checked individually, stopping if and when the requirement is reached.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 293, Sections 1276-1279

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

In addition to the fiscal impact statement drafted earlier by the Fiscal Analysis Division, each measure is also given a concise condensation, a more extended explanation, and arguments for and against. The condensation and explanation are written by the Secretary of State in consultation with the Attorney General. Special committees of supporters and opponents are formed to draft the arguments.

  • An example of these ballot statements can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 293, Sections 250-252

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

In Nevada, each ballot measure requires a simple majority of the votes cast for/against the measure. However, amendments must be approved at two consecutive elections. This does not apply to legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, which must be approved twice by the legislature (with a majority vote).

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Section 2 (4) & Article 16, Section 1 (2-3)

Effective date

Ballot measures take effect when the Nevada Supreme Court completes its canvass of the votes. The Court meets to canvas the vote on the fourth Tuesday in November.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Section 2 (3-4) & Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 293, Section 395

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

Challenges to the petition summary or the constitutionality of a measure (with respect Nevada's subject restrictions) should be filed in the First Judicial District Court. In addition, the decision of the Secretary of State to reject a ballot argument may be challenged by the argument committee in the First District Court. Any challenge of the signature count should be filed in Nevada District Court.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 061 & Chapter 293, Section 252

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

For three years after an initiated statute is approved, it may not be "amended, annulled, repealed, set aside or suspended" by the Nevada State Legislature. Changes to initiated amendments must follow the ordinary legislative process (majority votes in two consecutive regular sessions). Affirmed statutes may not repealed or amended without a vote of the people.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Sections 1 & 2

Re-attempting an initiative

Nevada does not limit how soon an initiative can be re-attempted.[5]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Sections 1-6 & Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Nevada ballot measures

The features of Nevada's campaign finance laws include:

  • Groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure are treated differently than Political Action Committees.
  • Groups must report money spent towards paid signature circulators.
  • Groups must have an official representative designated when conducting business with the Nevada Secretary of State.
  • Groups must report any person who has contributed $1,000 or more during the campaign to the Nevada Secretary of State.

State initiative law

Article 19 of the Nevada Constitution addresses initiatives.

Chapter 295 of the Nevada Revised Statutes governs initiatives.

External links

References


Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2011
2.1.2 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in Nevada.

Proposed changes by year

2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

Bills that have or might be introduced in the 2011 session of the Nevada State Legislature include:


2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing the initiative process

The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the Nevada State Legislature:


There were no proposals introduced during the 2009-2010 session of the Nevada Legislature.