UNDOING THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE
Lawmakers keep trying to make it harder to qualify initiative questions for the ballots. And now, lawmakers in Carson City — without bothering to spend millions of dollars passing petitions and getting their changes on the ballot, as common citizens were required to do — are meddling with laws enacted by the citizenry.
It’s tempting to pick and choose which of these changes to embrace and which to oppose. But making a call based on the desired outcome, rather than on some consistent principle, is the kind of precedent that can easily come back to bite.
A few years back, voters set a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, hoping to bring down the costs of malpractice insurance and thus keep Nevada’s best doctors from fleeing the jurisdiction. … The lawmakers now propose to eliminate those caps, a transparent favor to trial lawyers who use “pain and suffering” awards to jack up their take. Because the result is bad, lambasting the lawmakers for meddling too casually with a voter-enacted law is an easy call, in this case. …
On the other hand, the anti-smoking law enacted by Nevada voters three years ago was deeply flawed, sold on false premises and constitutes a massive affront to private property rights. It has killed many jobs.
Now the Legislature appears to be heeding the cries of the tavern owners and is prepared to relax the voter-enacted law. Even though we prefer the likely outcome of this meddling with the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, it sets just as dangerous a precedent as the meddling with voter-approved caps on “pain and suffering” awards. …
Lawmakers who wish the citizenry to reconsider a law birthed by initiative should have the courtesy to put their repeal or amendment on the ballot and campaign for passage in the same manner as the lowly peons who had to labor to get it enacted in the first place.