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EDITORIAL: Ballot questions

Nevada voters face four statewide initiatives in this election, two of them quite controversial. Clark County residents will also decide whether to raise taxes to pay for road construction.

Question 1 would require federal background checks for the private sale or transfer of firearms. The initiative is the work of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has devoted a chunk of his personal fortune to advance a gun control agenda. While the impulse here is understandable, it’s unclear whether this wide-reaching measure would have any discernible effect on crime or whether it would simply saddle law-abiding citizens with more burdens and costs. Gov. Brian Sandoval has come out against Question 1, as has the attorney general and many county sheriffs in the state. It’s hard to believe that such a long list of law enforcement officials would oppose the proposal if it were actually an effective means of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Vote no on Question 1.

Question 2 would legalize the possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana for Nevadans older than 21. While proponents tout the proposal as a means to generate significant tax revenue, they ignore the health and societal costs of sanctioning pot use, especially among the young. The initiative will create a host of problems for state lawmakers to address involving drugged driving and workplace standards. In addition, this initiative isn’t true legalization, but instead creates a retail licensing system that benefits the well connected. Vote no on Question 2.

Question 3 seeks to establish a competitive retail energy market in the state. If passed the proposal mandates that lawmakers abolish electricity monopolies in hopes of creating more options for power users. While the details would depend upon legislation that has yet to be written, the concept is sound. Choice and competition in any economic arena ultimately benefit consumers. Vote yes on Question 3.

Question 4 would exempt certain home medical equipment from the sales tax. While the measure is well intentioned, it is simply bad policy. Nevada should be looking to shorten the already long list of transactions that are currently exempt from the sales tax, rather than creating new permanent loopholes. Vote no on Question 4.

Clark County voters face an additional initiative, Question 5. It would generate money for local road construction by tying the county gasoline tax to an index that measures inflation in the construction trades. While it’s true that this is a 10-year, annual tax increase, the hit would be relatively small to the average motorist. It’s unfortunate that the proposal allows those who drive electric vehicles or hybrids to essentially avoid this user fee — and skeptical voters may ask why the money they currently provide in taxes isn’t enough to maintain roads. But there’s no denying that the region’s growth has created transportation infrastructure challenges. Without the ability to efficiently move goods and services, Southern Nevada businesses will suffer. Vote yes on Question 5.

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