Legislature has no authority to overhaul Question 1.

The Review-Journal reported this week on a proposal in the Legislature to amend the voter-approved initiative known as Question 1 by setting up a state procedure to conduct background checks instead of having the FBI conduct them, as required by the initiative. The article listed several issues that might “slow the measure.”

But one significant roadblock was not mentioned: A provision in the Nevada Constitution reads, “An initiative measure so approved by the voters shall not be amended, annulled, repealed, set aside or suspended by the Legislature within three years from the date it takes effect.”

Question 1 was to take effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Lawmakers have no authority to amend or modify the background check procedure established by the initiative. The fact that it is not enforceable because the FBI will not do the checks does not change this constitutional restriction on their authority.

No state legislative action to amend the voter-approved law for any reason — including a switch from FBI background checks to some sort of state procedure — can be taken for three years. This will be Jan. 1. So if Question 1 is to be amended, it must be done either during a special session in 2020 or during the 2021 session.

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