Geoff Dornan

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November 23, 2012
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Business tax petition has more than double the signatures needed

The teachers union turned in more than double the minimum number of signatures needed to qualify its business tax petition.According to Scott Gilles, elections deputy to Secretary of State Ross Miller, the total number of signatures on the statutory initiative was 152,713. That is 80,361 more than the minimum 72,352 signatures statewide needed to put the proposed business tax statute before the Nevada Legislature in February.The proposed statute would create a 2 percent tax on all businesses making more than $1 million a year and pump the estimated $800 million a year that would generate into the state K-12 education budget.The total greatly exceeded the 18,088 minimum number of signers needed in each of Nevada’s four congressional districts with the lowest number — 29,925 — coming in District 2 which includes Carson City and the rest of Northern Nevada.But while the teachers overcame that obstacle, they still have to overcome the hurdle put in their way when Carson District Judge James Wilson ruled the 200 word Description of Effect so inadequate and misleading that it invalidated the petition.Teachers have appealed that ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court arguing, in part, that Wilson originally had no problem with the Description of Effect, which really didn’t change in the second version of the petition.If the petition doesn’t have enough valid signers in any congressional district, that would render the Supreme Court appeal moot. But Gilles said with that many total signatures, he expects there will be at least 72,352 valid, registered voters who signed it.“The numbers suggest that shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.Letters went out on Wednesday to county election officials instructing them to begin the process of verifying the signatures collected in their jurisdictions. Gilles said teachers only collected signatures in nine of Nevada’s 17 counties.To verify that there are enough valid signers in each congressional district, officials in each of those four districts will have to examine 500 or 5 percent of the total signatures, chosen at random, to determine what percent are actually registered to vote in that district — whichever is higher. He said that “accuracy count” is then used to project the total number of valid signers there are in each district. If that is more than the minimum 18,088 in each district, he said the petition is declared sufficient.If the projection falls below 90 percent of that minimum in any of the four congressional districts, the petition fails.If the total is less than 100 percent but more than 90 percent, then the counties in that district must examine and verify every signature — a labor-intensive task especially in Clark County where 122,520 of the total signatures were collected.In Carson City, Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover will have to verify at least 61 of the 1,225 signatures. In Douglas, the number is 19 of 385 and in Churchill County 21 of 419 signers.If there is a problem, it may be that signers — particularly in Southern Nevada — may not have known which district they live in since the four districts are newly established after reapportionment. That could disqualify some signers and reduce the number of valid names.The clerks have nine business days to complete the process of examining and verifying the signatures. They must submit their findings to the Secretary of State’s office by Thursday, Dec. 6.If the teachers win their court case and have enough signatures, the proposed margins tax statute would be presented to the 2013 Legislature for action. If lawmakers refuse to pass it, it would go on the 2014 General Election ballot for voters to decide.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Nov 23, 2012 02:47AM Published Nov 23, 2012 02:46AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.