Nevada Constitution

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Nevada Constitution
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The Constitution of the State of Nevada is a state constitution and the fundamental governing document of Nevada. It was created in 1864 at a convention on July 4 in Carson City, Nevada. The convention adjourned on July 28, was approved by public vote on the 1st Wednesday in September, and became effective on October 31, when on that date President Abraham Lincoln declared Nevada to be a state.

Nevada's constitution can be amended by the state's voters through the citizen initiative process. In Nevada, it is a two-step process. If an initiative is submitted to the state's voters and they approve it, it will be re-submitted to them at another general election in two years. If they again approve of the measure, it will become part of Nevada's constitution.


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble of the Nevada Constitution is:

We the people of the State of Nevada Grateful to Almighty God for our freedom in order to secure its blessings, insure domestic tranquility, and form a more perfect Government, do establish this Constitution.

General provisions

The current document as shown on the Website of the Secretary of the State of Nevada, shows the document to have two prefix provisions; a preamble; 19 articles (one having been repealed); and a suffix provision

  • The first prefix provision, Preliminary Action, which defines the requirement that the state have a constitutional convention;
  • The second prefix provision, ordinance declares certain mandates applicable to the state, including a prohibition on slavery, religious freedom, and declaring the public lands to be property of the United States. Later amendments changed this provision.
  • The suffix provision specified how the election for the constitution was to be established.

The articles of the Nevada Constitution are as follows:

  1. Declaration of Rights
  2. Right of Suffrage
  3. Distribution of Powers
  4. Legislative Department
  5. Executive Department
  6. Judicial Department
  7. Impeachment and Removal From Office
  8. Municipal and Other Corporations
  9. Finance and State Debt
  10. Taxation
  11. Education
  12. Militia
  13. Public Institutions
  14. Boundary
  15. Miscellaneous Provisions
  16. Amendments
  17. Schedule
  18. Right of Suffrage; Repealed in 1992
  19. Initiative and Referendum

Amending the constitution

See also: Amending state constitutions, Article 16, Nevada Constitution and Article 19, Nevada Constitution

The Nevada Constitution can be amended via three different paths: a constitutional convention, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment or an initiated constitutional amendment.

Section 1 of Article 16 governs how the Nevada State Legislature can propose an amendment to the constitution.

  • An amendment can be proposed in either chamber of the state legislature.
  • A majority of the members of both chambers must approve the proposed amendment.
  • After the next general election for members of the state legislature, the proposed amendment must be considered again, and again approved by a majority of the members of both chambers.
  • The state legislature can call a special election for the proposed amendment(s) if they wish.
  • The amendment is then put to a vote of the people. If "a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the Legislature voting thereon" vote in favor of it, the measure becomes part of the constitution unless it is precluded by Section 2 of Article 19.
  • If two amendments are proposed at the same election that contradict each other, the one that gets the most votes becomes part of the constitution.

Section 2 of Article 16 governs constitutional conventions.

  • If two-thirds of the Nevada State Legislature votes in favor, a question about whether to hold a constitutional convention goes on a statewide ballot. That election must be held at the same time as an election is being held for members of the state legislature (that is, a constitutional convention question can't go on a special election ballot).
  • A majority vote -- but not a simple majority vote -- of the statewide electorate is required to generate a convention: "In determining what is a majority of the electors voting at such election, reference shall be had to the highest number of votes cast at such election for the candidates for any office or on any question."

Sections 2 and 3 of Article 19 govern initiated constitutional amendments.

  • Signatures equalling 10% of the number of voters who voted at the last preceding general election must be collected to qualify an amendment for the ballot, and these signatures are subject to a distribution requirement
  • If an initiated constitutional amendment wins in one election, it must win again at the next general election in an even-numbered year for it to become part of the constitution.
  • Nevada is the only state that requires that a citizen-initiated amendment be voted on twice. The same requirement does not apply to legislatively-referred constitutional amendments in the state.

Note: The Nevada State Legislature has proposed that Sections 2 and 3 be amended. This election will occur in November 2010. Section 2 (Proposed) and Section 3 (Proposed) will take effect on November 23, 2010 if they are approved by the statewide electorate.

Miscellaneous provisions

  • Article 1, Section 22 provides "Only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state."
  • A proposed Article 1, section 23, which if approved by the voters would be effective in 2008, would limit the power of the state to use eminent domain, which may be in response to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London.
  • Article 2, Section 10, requires the legislature to set a limit on initiative, referendum, primary or general election contributions to $5,000 each, and to provide for felony penalties for contributions above this limit.
  • Article 4, Section 38, permits the use of medical marijuana.
  • Article 5, Section 3, limits the Nevada Governor to two terms, or one if (s)he has served more than two years of someone else's term.
  • Article 15, Section 16, sets a minimum wage of $5.15 per hour if the employer provides health insurance, or $6.15 if not.

External links


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