Plan to prevent government interference with initiative petitions killed

The Senate Government Affairs Committee reversed itself Monday and killed legislation designed to stop local governments from trying to keep initiative petitions off the ballot.

Assembly Bill 292 was requested by the groups which tried to put petitions before the people in Reno, Carson City and Douglas County last year. Reno opponents of the train-trench project and Carson opponents of changes to Fuji Park were kept off the ballot by city officials who filed suit challenging the petitions despite the fact both had enough signatures.

In both those cases, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled those decisions were administrative in nature.

Douglas County opponents of uncontrolled growth won their fight and got the Sustainable Growth Initiative on the ballot. Voters approved caps allowing no more than 280 new dwellings in Douglas each year.

In all three cases, those organizing the petition drives argued it's not fair for government to use its relatively unlimited resources to fight against the will of the people.

The bill would have prevented a government from filing suit to block a petition from the ballot before the election. They could only challenge a petition on constitutional grounds, for failing to get enough signatures or other procedural legal problems.

The legislation has already been approved by the Assembly and, last Friday, it won a "do pass" recommendation from the Senate Government Affairs Committee.

But the committee pulled the bill back Monday. This time, Senate Republicans Sandra Tiffany and Ann O'Connell of Clark County changed their votes. With only Las Vegas Democrats Terry Care and Dina Titus supporting it, AB292 was indefinitely postponed.

That means local governments will still be able to use public resources to challenge initiative petitions before the election and keep people from voting on those issues.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment