The Daily Brew, December 2: An initiative in Nevada would let municipalities opt-out of county-based school districts

Welcome to the Friday, December 2, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Campaign for initiative to allow municipalities to create school districts submits signatures in Nevada
  2. Subscribe to Checks and Balances, our monthly newsletters on the separation of powers, due process, and the rule of law 
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many constitutional amendments in states with two-session requirements failed following a change in party control of the legislature?

Campaign for initiative to allow municipalities to create school districts submits signatures in Nevada

Now that 2022 is drawing to a close, let’s turn to…2024! Six statewide ballot measures have already been certified for the 2024 ballot in three states. 

In Nevada, a campaign supporting an initiative that would allow municipalities to opt-out of county school districts filed about 220,000 signatures for verification.

If enacted, the initiative would amend state statute to allow municipalities to opt-out of a county school district to create a new community school district.

The Community Schools Initiative PAC filed the initiative. County clerks will verify the signatures. The initiative needs 140,777 valid signatures to proceed to the legislature. If the legislature approves the initiative, and the governor signs it into law, the initiative is enacted. If no action is taken in 40 days, the initiative will be put on the 2024 ballot. Republican Joe Lombardo won the Nov. 8 Nevada gubernatorial election, defeating incumbent Democrat Steve Sisolak. As a result, Nevada will, in January, change from a Democratic trifecta to a divided government. Democrats control both chambers of the legislature. 

The Community Schools Initiative PAC said, “Nevada school districts are some of the largest in size, too bureaucratic, and unresponsive. It’s time to return our public schools back to the community and give students the education they deserve.”

The initiative says: “Individual municipalities or municipalities working together may, in some instances, prefer to form more appropriately-sized school districts, because communities may determine that they can better represent and serve children, parents, and families in smaller administrative units.”

Jess Jara, the superintendent of the Clark County School District, which has 300,000 students, says the initiative may not address the needs of students. 

“If anything is to change, Nevada must provide more funding and academic rigor to improve educational outcomes,” Jara said.  “Educating our students adequately requires an honest, reasoned, equitable, accountable, and sustainable strategy supported with optimal funding for the new pupil-centered funding formula to produce outcomes other than Nevada’s current 49th in the nation funding levels. This initiative achieves none of these.”

Nevada counties have until Dec. 23 to certify the submitted signatures. 

Meanwhile, Louisiana voters will decide the last three statewide measures of 2022 on Dec. 10. Nationally, from 2010 and 2020, the average number of statewide ballot measures in an even-numbered year was 164. 

Click the link below to learn more about the Nevada Community-Based School Districts Initiative.

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Subscribe to Checks and Balances, our monthly newsletter on the administrative state 

We’ve just released the November edition of Checks and Balances, our monthly newsletter on the latest happenings in the world of rulemaking and regulations. In each edition, we cover recent legislation and court case battles, tally up figures denoting the scale and scope of federal agency rules and regulations, and explain the theory and practice of the administrative state.

Let’s take a look at some of what you’ll find in the November edition (and give you a flavor of what you can expect in the future). 


The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments in three cases concerning interstate commerce, agency structure, and final agency action—National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, Axon Enterprise Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) v. Cochran. We discuss and explain those cases, and provide commentary on them from reporters and legal experts. 

SCOTUS heard the first case, National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, concerning interstate commerce, on Oct. 11. National Pork Producers Council v. Ross is a case arguing that a California regulation prohibiting the sale of certain pork products in the state unconstitutionally affects interstate commerce. The regulation requires minimum space requirements for certain farm animals and prohibits the sale of products, including pork, from animals raised in facilities that do not meet those conditions. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) filed suit, arguing that the regulation effectively imposed California’s law on pork producers in other states in violation of the dormant commerce clause. After lower courts dismissed the case, plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Both conservative and liberal justices … seemed skeptical of California’s law … even as they expressed concerns about the implications of striking it down,” observed Emily Hoeven of CalMatters. Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog noted that several justices raised questions about how the law could affect “hypothetical state efforts to ban products from out-of-state companies that employ unauthorized immigrants, forbid labor unions, or refuse to fund certain types of health care.” Justice Elena Kagan, moreover, suggested sending the case back to the lower court for a trial on the merits.

You can read more about the other two cases, Axon Enterprise Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) v. Cochran, in the November edition. 

Additionally, we also look at Justice Neil Gorsuch’s Nov. 7 dissent from SCOTUS’ decision not to take up Buffington v. McDonough, a case concerning veterans’ benefits issued by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). In his dissent, Gorsuch argues against broad applications of Chevron deference.  


At the state level, we look at a story out of Kansas about a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that voters rejected on Nov. 8 and a story out of Illinois about Illinois lawmakers objecting to a state agency’s emergency rulemaking. 

The Kansas amendment would have allowed state lawmakers to revoke or suspend agency rules. Results show that 50.45% of voters rejected the amendment, while 49.55% supported it. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmitt (R) had argued that the proposal would strengthen legislative oversight of administrative agency rules. State Representative Dennis “Boog” Highberger (D), an opponent of the proposal, had referred to the amendment as “election-year grandstanding,” according to the Kansas Reflector.

In Illinois, the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) on Oct. 18 passed a voice vote objecting to an emergency rule issued by the state Department of Public Health (IDPH). The emergency rule, a response to a 2021 law, aimed to address a shortage of forensic pathologists by waiving visa requirements to allow certain foreign forensic pathologists to practice in the state. JCAR members objected to the rule, saying the agency had sufficient time since the law’s enactment to issue the regulation through the standard rulemaking process. “The pandemic is over,” said state Rep. Steven Reick (R). “It is time for us to get back to normal way of doing business, and the normal rulemaking process should be the one that is used instead of emergency rulemaking when the time is available to do that.”

You can read about all of the above, in greater detail, and more here. Click below to subscribe to Checks and Balances to get the December edition delivered to your inbox.  

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#FridayTrivia: How many constitutional amendments in states with two-session requirements failed following a change in party control of the legislature?

In Monday’s Brew, we explored what happens to constitutional amendments in states, like Pennsylvania, with a two-session requirement for ballot measure advancement. Pennsylvania is one of 13 states in which legislatively referred constitutional amendments can only appear on the ballot after getting a simple majority of votes in both chambers over two consecutive legislative sessions (in four of those states, an amendment that receives a supermajority in the first round can bypass the second).

What that means in Pennsylvania is the package of five constitutional amendments the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed earlier this summer will need to clear a Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate. 

With all that in mind, here’s our Friday trivia question:

Between 2010 and 2022 in states with a two-session requirement, what percent of constitutional amendments that made it through the first session before a change in party control of the legislature ended up failing in the second session? (Here’s a hint: a total of 14 constitutional amendments between 2010 and 2022 made it through to the second session following a change in party control of the legislature.) 

  1. 14%
  2. 79%
  3. 93%
  4. 31%