December 8 was the deadline for counties to certify signatures for 2022 citizen-initiated statutes to the Nevada Secretary of State. Campaigns behind the Gaming Fee Increase on Monthly Revenue above $250,000 Initiative (S-01-2020) and the Sales Tax Increase for Public Schools Initiative (S-02-2020) submitted over 200,000 signatures each to county officials on November 17.
Citizens of Nevada may initiate statutes through the process of indirect initiative. The required number of valid signatures for initiative petitions is 97,598, which equals 10% of the total number of votes cast in the preceding general election. Nevada is one of 16 states that impose distribution requirements for initiative petitions. Of the 97,598 valid signatures needed, 24,400 signatures are required to be collected in each congressional district.
Once sufficient signatures have been collected, statutory initiatives are first presented to the Nevada State Legislature. If approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, the proposed statute becomes law. If not, the law is submitted to voters at the next general election. However, upon the governor’s approval, the legislature may propose an alternative statute to voters. The 2021 legislative session will begin on February 1, 2021.
The Gaming Fee Increase on Monthly Revenue above $250,000 Initiative would increase the rate of the gaming fee on monthly gross revenue above $250,000 to 9.75%. Currently, there are tiered fee rates ranging from 3.5% to 6.75% depending on the amount of monthly gross revenue. The existing maximum rate—which is charged on monthly gross revenue above $134,000—is 6.75%.
Robert Hollowood filed this initiative with the Nevada Secretary of State on January 13, 2020. In February 2020, the Nevada Resort Association challenged the ballot language submitted by initiative sponsors. They argued that January 1, 2023, will not be the date of effect as stated in the petition, and the funds raised by the increased fee are not solely dedicated to public education. On March 13, Judge James Wilson ruled in favor of the Nevada Resort Association requiring the initiative sponsors to change the effective date and clarify that revenue from the fee would go into the general fund. The sponsors submitted amended ballot language on March 30 to the Nevada Secretary of State. The new effective date if approved by the legislature is July 1, 2021, and the new effective date if approved by voters in 2022 is November 22, 2022.
The Sales Tax Increase for Public Schools Initiative would increase the state’s Local School Support Tax from 2.25% to 3.75%. Including the Local School Support Tax, the total statewide sales and use tax rate in Nevada as of January 1, 2020, was 6.85%. Local sales tax rates vary, creating a range of total existing sales tax rates in Nevada from 6.85% to 8.265%.
Kenny Belknap filed this initiative with the Nevada Secretary of State on January 15, 2020. In February 2020, BizPac, the political action committee of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, challenged the ballot language submitted by initiative petitioners. The plaintiffs argued that the description of the initiative was misleading because it did not provide the total new sales tax rate. On March 13, Judge James T. Russell ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and issued an injunction requiring the initiative petitioners to resubmit the ballot summary to include the proposed total sales tax rate. The initiative sponsors submitted an amended initiative on March 24.
Campaigns behind the Top-Two Primary Initiative and the Parental Notification for Minor’s Abortion Initiative did not submit signatures by the deadline. The initiatives would have, respectively, established a top-two open primary system for all elected partisan offices and required that parents or guardians of minors seeking an abortion to be notified 48 hours before the procedure.
Protect Our Girls, the campaign behind the Parental Notification for Minor’s Abortion Initiative, filed a lawsuit asking for an extension of the November 18 deadline for signature submission due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and related restrictions. On October 21 Federal District Court Judge Miranda Du dismissed the lawsuit.
In 2020, Ballotpedia tracked the following changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic:
- 27 initiative petition campaigns that abandoned or suspended signature-gathering efforts in 2020;
- at least 19 lawsuits filed over signature deadlines and regulations;
- four campaigns that shifted their focus to future elections; and
- multiple changes to campaign activity and tactics, alteration of rules for signature collection by executive or legislative action, and uses of remote or electronic signature gathering.