Nevada decides ballot questions on malpractice, education, wages | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada decides ballot questions on malpractice, education, wages

SANDRA CHEREB

RENO – Doctors triumphed over trial lawyers in Nevada’s court of public opinion as voters favored a physician-backed medical malpractice initiative and rejected two competing measures supported by trial lawyers.

Minimumwage workers also won Tuesday as voters approved a measure to raise the minimum wage by $1 an hour over the federal mandate – currently at $5.15 – unless employers provide health insurance.

Voters supported making education a top funding priority over other state budget needs, but partial returns showed them split on whether to meet the national average.

Question 7, to clean up archaic language in the state constitution, passed final ratification, but voters rejected Question 8, a proposal for exemptions to the state sales tax.

With about half of ballots counted, voters favored Question 3 to impose a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice awards, by a 3-2 margin.

Questions 4 and 5, backed by trial lawyers, were losing by about 2-1.

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Education would take top funding priority in Nevada under Questions 1 and 2, proposed constitutional amendments that would require state lawmakers to pass education budgets first before considering other state needs and at the per-pupil national average.

Question 1 was favored 56 percent to 44 percent in early returns, but Question 2 was split, with 47 percent voting yes and 53 percent against.

Questions 1 and 6 must be approved by voters again in 2006 to amend the constitution.