Senate version of anti-growth control bill heard |

Senate version of anti-growth control bill heard

by Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

A Senate bill putting new restrictions on initiative petitions like the one that attempted to slow growth in Douglas County drew the same criticism Wednesday as its Assembly counterpart.

Both bills, AB428 and SB279, would require examination of the effects of any initiative petition that slows or otherwise controls development.

Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, introduced SB279 on behalf of an unidentified Douglas County constituent. He said it would require an analysis of the effects on such things as local government budget’s needs for growth before any vote.

Amodei told the committee Wednesday local governments and others are required to justify and examine the affects of their planning decisions now. He said this would simply extend the requirement to those organizing a petition drive.

He also pointed out that, since Douglas County’s Question 4 already won voter approval and is under debate in the courts, the legislation would have no affect on that situation.

But John Garvin, one of the heads of the Douglas County Sustainable Growth Initiative, said the bill is “a brazen attempt to bludgeon the initiative process.” He said it would impose substantial expenses on citizen groups to determine housing needs of a region and to assess the effects on financial and environmental resources.

He said those issues are already fully examined in the debate over an initiative petition and that the bill is designed to impede and discourage voters from using their constitutional rights to the initiative process.

Jim Slade, also an SGI organizer, described the bill as “shameless pandering to special interest groups at the expense of the public.”

“This bill would provide significant additional burdens on any initiative petition seeking to limit growth,” he said. “Its sole intended effect is to discourage the use of the initiative process on any attempt to limit growth.”

Both men said they doubt it would stand constitutional muster.

Builders, as they did Tuesday with AB428, said they support the legislation as necessary to understand how extensively a change in development rules would affect a community.

Carson City Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg and Community Development Director Walt Sullivan said they were concerned the bill would override the capital’s existing 3 percent annual limit. Carson City sets a maximum number of dwelling units that can be built each year. They said Carson City’s program works well and doesn’t need legislative adjustment.