Teachers plan lawsuit over ballot petition

CARSON CITY — The state teachers union plans Monday to file a lawsuit in district court challenging a decision by Secretary of State Ross Miller to allow an initiative petition to cap property tax rates on the November ballot.

Miller earlier this month rejected a challenge by the Nevada State Education Association to Sharron Angle’s constitutional amendment to cap property tax rates.

Carson City attorney James Penrose, representing the teachers, said Friday the challenge will be filed in Carson District Court. In addition to previous claims about whether affidavits submitted with the signatures to qualify the petition were complete under Nevada law, a new issue has been discovered, he said.

More than 300 signature pages that were turned in to Clark County election officials include affidavit pages that are completely blank, he said.

“That defect alone would disqualify the petition in Clark County, in our view,” Penrose said.

Since the petition must have enough signatures in all 17 counties to qualify, the disqualification in any single county would make the proposal ineligible for the ballot.

Monday is the deadline for a court challenge to Miller’s decision to allow the question on the ballot.

Angle, a former state Assemblywoman, said she is not surprised to learn of the challenge.

Nevada’s county clerks and other election officials, including the secretary of state’s office, have determined the signatures to be both valid and adequate, she said.

“To go after a technicality that would disenfranchise nearly 70,000 registered voters I think is outrageous.

“We did our very best; we complied with the law,” said Angle, who in the primary election made a strong run for the state Senate in the district represented by Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno. “I’m confident the judge will see this for what it really is — a stalling tactic designed to drain our resources, our money and our time.”

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

But she also had to qualify in all 17 counties, and the petition narrowly survived a random review of 5 percent of the signatures in Clark County. She needed 40,364 signatures in Clark County. The 5 percent review showed she had 40,571 valid signatures.

Angle’s proposed constitutional amendment would limit property tax increases to 2 percent per year for all property until a property is sold.

The current cap, set by the Legislature in 2005, is 3 percent per year for owner occupied homes and 8 percent for other property, including commercial.

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

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