CARSON CITY — Proponents of a proposal to amend the state constitution to cap property taxes asked the Nevada Supreme Court on Monday to reconsider an earlier decision that kept the measure off the November ballot.
The court filing is based in part on a recent decision by a federal judge that invalidated a requirement that signatures had to be collected in all 17 counties.
Even if some of the signatures for the proposed 2 percent property tax cap collected in Clark County are invalid because of issues with affidavits required of the petition circulators, there are enough valid names to put the measure before the voters, said attorney Joel Hansen for We the People Nevada.
In the filing, Hansen argued that Senior Judge Charles McGee erroneously determined that several thousand of the signatures collected in Clark County for the California-style Proposition 13 measure brought by former Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle were invalid.
If the Supreme Court finds that some of those voided signatures are in fact legitimate, then the measure does qualify for the ballot, he said.
The Nevada State Education Association, which successfully challenged the measure, has not yet responded to the filing.
The Supreme Court last month rejected a request for a stay of McGee’s order that disqualified the measure from the Nevada ballot. The court agreed with McGee that the affidavits as submitted with the signatures in Clark County did not meet state constitutional requirements.
In the new filing, Hansen said the court came to an erroneous conclusion in agreeing with McGee’s decision.
And since that decision, U.S. District Judge Philip Pro has ruled that the legislative requirement that a minimum number of petition signatures be collected in all 17 counties is unconstitutional, Hansen said.
Pro ruled that the 17-county requirement violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it "favors residents of sparsely populated counties over residents of densely populated counties."
Based on that ruling, Hansen said that even if the property tax cap petition falls short in Clark County, there are still enough signatures in other counties to make up the difference — if the court reconsiders its earlier decision invalidating all the Clark County signatures challenged by the education association.
But getting the measure to voters now would be a challenge for state and local election officials. Out-of-state absentee ballots were mailed out last month and early voting begins Oct. 18.
Angle’s proposed constitutional amendment sought to limit property tax increases to 2 percent per year for all property.
The Legislature enacted its own caps in 2005, limiting increases on owner-occupied homes to 3 percent and other property to 8 percent.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.