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Chuck Muth: Questions and answers on ballot questions

Chuck Muth

Back in the “old days,” the powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government were reserved to the states. And the people of the state of Nevada, when adopting our Constitution in 1864, decided that someone should live here for at least six months to get to know the issues and the candidates before being allowed to vote in our elections. Quite reasonable. But the U.S. Supreme Court nullified this provision in 1972.

Proponents of statewide Question 1 want to amend our Constitution to eliminate this six-month residency requirement. However, just because an activist Supreme Court trod on Nevada’s power to establish its own residency rules for elections doesn’t mean a future court won’t some day reverse the decision. So I’m casting a vote for states’ rights by voting “NO” on Question 1.

Question 2 is over the issue of “eminent domain” ” the power of the government to confiscate your land for a public use.

In the past it was understood that public uses included things such as schools and roads. However, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a couple years ago that eminent domain could be used to take one person’s property and give it to private developers who would generate more tax revenue for the government. Question 2 would amend the Nevada Constitution and make it more difficult for the government to take your land for such nefarious purposes.

Opponents say Question 2 is no longer needed since the Legislature passed an eminent domain law last year that fixed this problem. But that which the Legislature giveth, the Legislature may taketh away. This initiative only came about because government abused its power in the first place; therefore, I’m voting for the strongest possible protection of private property rights by voting “YES” on Question 2.

Question 3 amends the Nevada Constitution to prohibit the Legislature from providing tax breaks without issuing a “finding” that outlines the social or economic purpose of the tax break. It also includes a “sunset clause” that requires that any future tax breaks automatically expire on a specific date. Interestingly, this question does NOT include a requirement for such a “finding” or “sunset clause” when it comes to government SPENDING, only tax breaks. So this one is a no-brainer. Vote “NO” on Question 3.

Question 4 seeks to amend the Nevada Constitution “to authorize the Legislature to amend or repeal any provision” of the Sales and Use Tax Act of 1955 “without an additional direct vote of the people whenever necessary to carry out any federal law or interstate agreement for the administration, collection or enforcement of sales and use taxes.” This measure clearly eliminates the power of the people themselves to decide for themselves how to tax themselves. It also clearly opens the door for taxing the Internet. Therefore, I clearly urge a “NO” vote on Question 4.

On Carson City Advisory Question 1, which would raise the sales tax for the W&E (White & Elephant) railroad project, not only am I voting “No,” I’m voting “Hell, NO!”

Carson City Advisory Question 2 calls for a property tax increase for “public safety” ” primarily cops and firefighters. But before I comment on this question, allow me to disclose that I’m the proud son of a 20-year veteran Baltimore City firefighter, so I don’t want to hear any guff about “not appreciating” what cops and firefighters go through.

That said, this tax increase wasn’t requested by the people in the form of a citizen-led petition. In my opinion, efforts to raise taxes should go through the exact same signature-gathering process that efforts to restrain taxes ” such as the Gibbons Tax Restraint Initiative ” have had to go through.

In addition, if you surf on over to http://www.TransparentNevada.com and click on “Salaries” and then “Carson City,” you’ll find an awful lot of local “public employees” making six-figure salaries. Sorry, Charlie, but when a firefighter/paramedic is pulling down $153,808.86 annually, including benefits and overtime, I’m thinking we need to rethink the thinking on how the money we’re already contributing to public safety is being spent before raising taxes. So I’m voting “NO” on CC2.

And finally, a few candidate recommendations: Supreme Court ” Seat B: Kris Pickering. Supreme Court ” Seat D: Thomas Christensen. Congress ” 2nd District: Dean Heller. Assembly District 39: James Settelmeyer. Assembly District 40: Cheryl Lau. State Board of Education ” District 9: Dave Cook. Carson City Mayor: Bob Crowell. Happy Nevada Day!

– Chuck Muth, of Carson City, is president and CEO of Citizen Outreach and a political blogger. Read his views Fridays on the Appeal Opinion page or visit http://www.muthstruths.com. You can e-mail him at chuck@chuckmuth.com. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Nevada Appeal.