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Nevada’s Animal Farm, Where some are More Equal than Others

I am still absolutely astounded at how unglued Nevada’s political establishment has become over a simple little lawsuit – which my organization, Citizen Outreach has joined – asking that the standards of the state’s “single-subject rule” be applied equally to ballot initiatives and legislation.

Back in 2005 the Legislature passed a law, SB 224, tightening the standards for ballot initiatives put forward directly by citizens in the state. Ironically and arguably, that law itself violated the single-subject rules embedded the state’s Constitution. Indeed, we point out, SB 224 “addresses 20 different subjects and amends 20 different NRS statutes.”

Seriously, this should not be a complicated or controversial issue. All our lawsuit does is ask that the same rules apply to everybody:

“Where a state statute, such as SB 224 passed in 2005, prohibits the population at large from initiating petitions that embrace more than one subject—and where the private enforcement mechanisms, included in SB 224 passed in 2005, have been so arbitrarily and narrowly interpreted by the 1st Judicial District so as to prevent all such initiatives from reaching the ballot since 2005—then the same standard of limitations, expressed in the State Constitution, must likewise encumber the legislature.”

That’s correct. Since the Legislature cracked down on citizen initiatives in 2005, not a single citizen-led initiative has made it to the ballot. Indeed, what the Legislature did was say that while their team now gets five strikes and five outs per inning, our team now only gets one strike and one out. No wonder we haven’t won a game since.

So all we’re saying is that both teams should get three strikes and three outs. Fair enough?

Not. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed in January, the Legislative Counsel Bureau petitioned the District Court for the right to intervene in the case in order to protect the Legislature’s monopolized dominion over Nevada’s citizens.

Almost immediately thereafter, lawyers for Nevada’s gaming industry, mining industry and retailers similarly petitioned the court for the right to hop in and muck up the lawsuit. After all, we can’t have “the people” actually taking the law into their own hands, circumventing the legislative body these industries and their lobbyists have bought and paid for, can we?

But wait; even more have now hopped on the bandwagon.

Not wanting to be left out of the party, on February 27th lawyers representing the Nevada Development Authority, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Nevada Taxpayers Association and Wynn Resorts also asked the court to let their high-priced lawyers weigh in against the principle of “the same rules apply to everybody.”

Nevada’s Legislature has become Nevada’s “Animal Farm,” where some believe they should be “more equal” than others. They shouldn’t be. Let’s hope the court agrees.


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