Secretary of state warns tax repeal organizers petition may be illegal
The Secretary of State’s Office has warned organizers of a tax-repeal ballot drive their petition may be legally flawed.
But George Harris, who is heading the petition drive, said the letter is just “an attempt by government employees to muddle the waters.”
The question is whether the petition must include the full text of the language it seeks to repeal.
He said the petition simply lists the sections numbers of Senate Bill 8 which it seeks to repeal because to include the full text of the 267 section piece of legislation, “we would have to have a petition that was 80 pages.”
“And when it went on the ballot, taxpayers would have to pay hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to print all those pages,” said Harris.
The two-page letter signed by Secretary of State Dean Heller’s elections deputy Ronda Moore said the problem is the Nevada constitution requires a petition “include the full text of the measure proposed.”
The letter doesn’t toss out the petition. Instead, it warns Harris that, without the full text of the language being repealed, the petition could be challenged legally after it is filed.
The letter recommends they amend the petition to include the text of the laws being repealed.
“If you do not choose to amend the petition, we reiterate that it does not appear that the referendum petition as drafted is capable of providing meaningful disclosure to any registered voter who chooses to sign the same,” the letter says.
At a minimum, the letter states, petition circulators should carry with them the language of SB8 for voters to examine, “although such action still may not be adequate to withstand a challenge.”
The petition drive seeks to repeal nearly all the new taxes and tax increases contained in SB8 of the 20th s¼pecial legislative session. Those increases were designed to generate $836 million in new revenues over the coming two years and balance the state budget.
Harris said he has no intention of rewriting the petition to include 80 pages of text. But he said the petition organizers will take the question to a district court to settle the issue.
“We’re going to go to a judge and say, ‘Your honor, this is nonsense,'” Harris said.
“This is a desperate attempt by government employees to try to destroy our petition,” he said. “We are within the law. We have not done anything everyone else hasn’t done in the last 15 petitions.”
Harris said state government is scared because they know the petition is very popular with people.
“The people want this. They’re tired of paying the freight for incompetent government bureaucrats who get paid way over what they deserve and don’t ever take the taxpayer into consideration,” he said.
“We’re not going to redo the petition unless a judge tells us our petition is sour,” he said. “No judge is going to do that.”