With Christmas and the new year soon here, few people want or will think about politics.
But the fact remains, decisions made by voters just a month ago will have very real impacts on millions of Nevada residents.
This isn't just about the men and women elected to the Legislature or Congress. It's about the six ballot questions voters said yes or no to.
Renewable energy; the Pink Tax; taxes on medical equipment; energy choice; automatic voter registration; and victim's rights.
Longtime political analyst Steve Sebelius, of KLAS-TV, joins us to break down the costs and benefits of the ballot questions.
“It enshrines a new set of rights within the constitution. It passed two years ago, and it passed this year. It has gone into effect as soon as the supreme court finished canvassing the vote on the 27th.’
Sebelius explained that the law will give crime victims a little more authority in the prosecution of people accused of a crime. He said one of the most significant parts of the law is that crime victims don’t have to speak with the defendant’s lawyer unless they have a court order.
While the law gives crime victims new rights that they didn’t have before, Sebelius believes it won’t go unchallenged.
“For example, one of the rights is a timely disposition of the case,” he said, “But as you know, the crime perpetrator also has the right to a speedy trial. If he waives that right, then are we talking about a conflict now because you have two countervailing rights.”
“The rationale is basically the idea that we don’t tax the necessities of life - food you buy at the grocery store, things of that nature. Things that you absolutely need to live. A number of people made the argument that ‘look this is – although it only applies to women – this is something that is necessary for life and shouldn’t be subject to tax.
Sebelius said that the state government could lose between $5 million and $7.5 million every year. And local governments will also lose money and that lost revenue would have a much bigger impact on rural counties than more populated urban counties. However, because Clark County subsidizes the rest of the state, any time there is a loss of tax revenue it will impact residents in Clark County.
“This was the biggest turnaround in a two-year period for a ballot initiative in state history. It was probably also the most controversial one… The confusion that surrounded this was like nothing else. Even experts couldn’t tell us what it was going to do.”
Sebelius believes the initiative went down to defeat because it would have changed the state’s constitution, making it more difficult to make any changes if the law had any problems.
Although that initiative didn't pass, Sebelius is not sure that the idea of deregulating the energy market is finished in the state. He expects the proponents of the idea to bring it up during the legislative session, but he’s not sure they will be successful. He pointed out that efforts have been made in the past to deregulate but they’ve been stopped by NV Energy lobbyists.
Medical Device Tax:
“This would cover mobility devices. So, you’re talking things like wheelchairs and maybe even those Rascal scooters… that can sometimes be very expensive and yet very, very helpful to a person who has disabilities to help them get around… Once again this idea of ‘let’s not tax something that people really need’ came into play here.”
Sebelius said that just like the Tampon Tax question this tax rollback will cost the state and local governments money. However, it is not known right now how much it will cost because the Legislature has to craft the exemptions.
Automatic Voter Registration:
“This will increase voter registration because now when you go to the DMV to change your address or turn in your license to get a new one, you will automatically be registered unless you specifically opt out… so this will definitely increase voter registration. The intent obviously is to get more people to vote whether or not that happens that is a completely different thing.”
Sebelius said the Secretary of State’s office, officials with the DMV and local county clerks are working on how to implement the ballot measure.
Renewable Energy Portfolio:
“It is very possible that the Nevada Legislature could enact this measure in 2019 which would obviate a vote in 2020… I think it could be law by the time 2020 rolls around.”
Sebelius said the support for the measure, which requires Nevada to increase its use of renewable energy by 2030, has come from all corners of the state, including NV Energy.
FROM DESERT COMPANION: Taking the Initiatives
Steve Sebelius, political analyst, KLAS-TV
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