Abby Johnson: Our interests are on the ballot
October 3, 2018
"In each and every election, it's your rights, it's your freedoms, it's your interests that are on the ballot." – Sen. Todd Young
Nevada voters will answer six statewide ballot questions in the General Election. Each ballot measure touches our everyday lives and those of friends and families: the electric bill, paying sales tax, rights and wrongs, and voting. Five of the six become law when approved. Our interests are on the ballot.
Energy Ballot Questions 3 and 6
Question 3 is about who provides your energy while Question 6 is about where the energy comes from, and how much is from renewable sources. Proponents of Question 3 say a Yes vote would establish "an open competitive retail electric energy market," reduce energy market regulations and prohibit energy monopolies. They say competition encourages consumer cost savings. Question 3 opponents say the measure would "dismantle Nevada's existing electricity system" and lock a risky experiment into Nevada's constitution. Cost savings are uncertain based on deregulation experience in other states. Opponents such as Mt. Wheeler Power Company in eastern Nevada believe Question 3 would be especially detrimental to the rural electric co-ops. Question 3 has attracted diverse opponents ranging from the Sierra Club to rural officials and NV Energy.
Question 6 would require electricity providers to get at least 50 percent of Nevada's electricity from renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal, by 2030. Advocates want this constitutional guarantee in one of the sunniest states. Opponents of Question 6 believe a constitutional mandate dictating energy policy is unnecessary and risky, and takes discretion away from the Legislature's ability to apply its own adjustments to our current Renewable Portfolio Standards.
Sales and Use Tax Exemption Questions 2 and 4
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Questions 2 and 4 seek voter approval for sales tax exemptions. Question 2, known as the Pink Tax Exemption, would exempt feminine hygiene products from Nevada's sales and use tax. Question 4, the Medical Patient Tax Relief Act would extend the tax exemption to durable medical equipment, oxygen equipment and wheelchairs. Proponents argue these basic hygiene and health essentials shouldn't be taxed, and low-income consumers are unjustly hit the hardest. Sen. Yvanna Cancela led the effort at the 2017 legislative session to abolish what's in reality a gender-based tax on women for about 40 years of their lives. Opponents contend tax exemptions (243 exemptions as of 2014) have consequences for taxpayers by reducing available revenue for state and local government and school districts to provide services.
Victim's Rights Question 1
Question 1, known as Marsy's Law, is a constitutional amendment to give victims of crime stated constitutional rights or a "Victim's Bill of Rights." Opponents say Question 1 "is a solution in search of a problem" and there's no reason to enact a complex, costly and confusing proposal because the Nevada Constitution and state law already guarantee comprehensive victims' rights. Proponents say that by putting protections in the constitution and broadening them, victims will receive the fairness, respect and protection they deserve in the criminal or juvenile justice process.
Automatic Voter Registration Question 5
Question 5 would amend state law to establish a system to automatically register to vote eligible persons when they apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a driver's license or renewal, unless they opt out in writing. Question 5 would also require DMV to securely transfer voter registration information to election officials for verification. Proponents say these changes create a modern system with less room for human error. Opponents say the system shifts responsibility of registering to vote from the individual to the government.
I'm waiting to hear both sides at the League of Women Voters election forum on ballot questions before I decide how to vote. The free forum is on Monday, Oct. 8 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall. Pro and con speakers will explain the ballot measures and answer written questions from the public.
Five of the six ballot questions will be decided on Nov. 6. Register to vote online until Oct. 18; early voting starts Oct. 20. Please vote!
Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. She is on the board of the League of Women Voters of Northern Nevada, one of the organizations sponsoring election forums at the BAC on Oct. 8, 9, 15 and 16. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients or organizational affiliations.