Resolution attempts to influence court action on constitutional challenge to vouchers law
The Nevada Legislature, as a parting shot to end the special session, on Saturday passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 — an attempt to influence the ongoing litigation over the constitutionality of the school vouchers program.
The measure by Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, attempts to lay out an argument that the Education Savings Accounts in Senate Bill 302 of the 2015 Legislature are legal and constitutional and that the will of the Legislature should be given deference by the judiciary.
The ESAs — essentially school vouchers — would give to parents up to $5,000 a school year to pay tuition to put their children in private schools. The law is being challenged in court because the Nevada Constitution specifically prohibits using any public funding for religious purposes and nearly all of the private schools are operated by religious organizations. Opponents argue the ESA accounts are a dodge to simply funnel public money to religious organizations.
The resolution was passed by both houses on a party line vote with Democrats opposed.
Assemblyman Elliott Anderson, D-Las Vegas, said on the floor of that body that it was improper: “The Legislature should not be injecting itself into litigation.”
The other issue raised is that, in a special legislative session, it is the governor who sets the agenda and has the full power to limit topics lawmakers can approve. No such resolution was on the list when Gov. Brian Sandoval called the 29th Special Session.
The resolution, however, argues that restriction applies only to “bills” and that a resolution is not a bill.
The constitutional challenge is being handled in Carson City District Court.
An effort to call another special session shortly after failed to materialize. Democratic Sen. Ruben Kihuen wanted lawmakers to ban guns for people on a federal no-fly list, but didn’t get support beyond Senate Democrats.