Election regs keep legislative panel debating
(AP) – A legislative subcommittee on Thursday approved dozens of regulations – many of which were necessary to implement new laws taking effect Jan. 1 – and debated into the evening election rules sought by the secretary of state.
Some Republicans argued that the voting rules proposed by Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller would undermine the integrity of Nevada elections and invite voter fraud – claims state election officials say are baseless.
The Legislative Commission’s Subcommittee to Review Regulations approved regulations that increase fees for various agricultural inspections and allow deductions claimed by mining companies in calculating net proceeds taxes paid on minerals.
Still other rules deal with classification of some wildlife species; high school sports; and various professional licenses.
Most were approved in one umbrella vote.
Regulations on business licenses were postponed to a future meeting after critics said it would hurt small, home-based operators. Miller said the purpose of the regulation was to close loopholes that have allowed some businesses to skirt paying business license fees. Opponents countered a bill that would have implemented the same measures failed in the 2011 session, and argued the secretary of state was trying to circumvent the Legislature.
But it was the election provisions that generated the most debate.
“If this subcommittee, which is made up of four Democrats and two Republicans approves the regulations, they will be enacted and Nevada will have even more voter fraud than was experienced in the 2010 general election,” Woody Stroupe, vice chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, said in an email to supporters sent before the meeting.
Fraud allegations were raised in last year’s election by Sharron Angle, a tea party candidate for the U.S. Senate who lost to Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader. But election officials said there was no evidence the outcome was rigged, and no official complaints were made to poll workers or election overseers.
At earlier public hearings, critics argued the election regulations would make it easier for non-U.S. citizens to vote by extending poll hours for some tardy voters and allowing inactive voters to cast ballots without restrictions.
State election officials have denied the claims, saying the rule changes are largely housekeeping measures.
“It’s our intent to clarify the law. We believe these regulations will assist in this process,” Deputy Secretary of State Scott Gilles said last week.