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Property tax petition advances

CARSON CITY — Secretary of State Ross Miller on Thursday rejected a challenge to Sharron Angle’s initiative petition to cap property tax rates, sending it to the November general election.

The constitutional amendment, which would limit annual property tax increases to 2 percent per year on all property, faced a challenge from the state teachers union aimed at keeping it off the ballot.

After a review of the complaint and the response from Angle’s attorney, the concerns over the affidavits filed by signature gatherers were rejected, said Matt Griffin, deputy secretary of state for elections.

Barring a successful legal challenge by the Nevada State Education Association in the courts, the measure will be on the ballot, he said.

It will have to pass twice, in November and again in 2010, before it can take effect.

In a letter to Miller earlier this month, an attorney representing the teachers union challenged the legitimacy of some of the signatures collected in Clark County and Carson City because of the affidavits submitted by petition circulators who collected the signatures. The affidavits are required to prevent fraud.

The letter said defects with some of the affidavits should disqualify the measure in those jurisdictions. Because the measure must qualify in all 17 counties, failure in any single county would make the petition invalid.

But Griffin said the affidavits in question complied with state law.

Angle needed 58,628 signatures; Miller found that 64,166 qualified.

Neither Angle nor a teachers union official could be reached for comment Thursday night.

Angle’s proposed constitutional amendment would limit property tax increases to 2 percent per year until a property is sold. The current cap of 3 percent for owner-occupied homes, with a higher cap for commercial property, was approved by the Legislature in 2005.

Angle has tried for years to get a California-style Proposition 13 property tax limit into the Nevada Constitution. She has argued the tax limits need constitutional protection because the Legislature could revoke its cap anytime.

Angle said in previous interviews that if her measure gets on the ballot, the tax cap will pass. Polls have shown strong support, she said.

Her petition did not initially qualify when signatures were turned in May 20. But she argued the deadline set by the Legislature was too early, and the Nevada Supreme Court agreed, giving her more time to collect signatures.

With the additional names turned in to the county clerks, a check showed there were enough to meet the required number in all 17 counties.

Miller’s certification was the final step to put the measure on the ballot.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

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