Miller disqualifies room tax petitions

Secretary of State Ross Miller's office has disqualified three submitted petitions designed to make it harder to raise taxes and to shift room tax revenues to the state budget.

The letter sent to Scott Scherer, attorney for Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who backed the petition drives, says "this office hereby determines the total number of signatures verified by the county is less than 100 percent of the registered voters necessary to declare the petition sufficient."

"Based on the counties' examinations, the aforementioned petitions failed to substantially comply with statutory and constitutionall requirements," the letter states.

Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands, funded the drives to put the Education Initiative Act, Funding Nevada's Priorities Act and Nevada Taxpayers Protection Act on the November ballot. The first would increase the room tax to a maximum of 13 percent and dedicate the new money to public education. The second does the same but allows the money to go for education, public safety and roads.

The remaining petition would require a two-thirds vote of the people to raise any tax by an initiative petition. Currently only a majority vote is required, in contrast to the Legislature, which must get a two-thirds majority to raise taxes.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Nevada State Education Association challenged them, saying they don't meet legal requirements imposed by the 2008 Legislature. Specifically, the petitions don't have a statement of the number of signatures attached and do not include an affidavit by the signature gatherer that each signer had the opportunity to read the full text of the proposed amendments before signing. In his letter to Scherer last week, Miller said those requirements are clear in the law and that his office can't ignore them.

"To ignore the legal requirements put into place by the 2007 Nevada Legislature would be to obliterate the requirements put into place to safeguard the manner in which the Nevada Constitution may be amended," he wrote.

According to Friday's disqualification letter, the petitions filed in all 17 Nevada counties had the same defect and, therefore, the secretary of state's office was unable to certify any signatures as valid.

Supporters have five days to appeal and, if that is rejected, they can take the issue to court.

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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