District Court: State can take $62 million in water money
A Las Vegas District Judge has ruled the state has the power to take $62 million from the Clean Water Coalition to help balance the state budget.
The decision is expected to be appealed immediately to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Lawmakers voted to take the money, arguing it wasn’t going to be used for the effluent transfer pipeline to Lake Mead as originally intended and, therefore, was available to help the state cover its budget shortfall.
Judge David Barker said in his decision the law “is tantamount to legislative cannibalism, however, for over 100 years, the law in Nevada states that cities, counties and other political subdivisions do not have the constitutional power of home rule.”
Barker ruled those entities are “subject to the overriding sovereign control of statutes enacted by the Legislature” and, therefore, lawmakers have the power to take the money.
The Clean Water Coalition and M Resort in Henderson sued to block the transfer of money to the general fund, saying it was money belonging to Southern Nevada voters to be used for their benefit, not to balance the state budget. After the action was filed, executive branch officials put that pot of money off to one side in case they were unable to convince the courts they could legally take it.
Legislative lawyers, however, said there are still a few issues to be settled in the case and that, until they are, the state can’t put the money into the general fund.