Clerks begin verifying signatures for TASC, Eminent Domain petitions

Even if one-third of the signatures gathered for the Tax and Spending Control and Property Owners Bill of Rights petitions are thrown out, both would qualify for the November ballot.

The minimum number of registered Nevada voters needed to qualify a petition is 10 percent of the total turnout in the last general election - this election cycle, 83,184. TASC supporters turned in 156,254 signed petitions. The Eminent Domain petition's backers collected 137,698 signers.

Ellick Hsu, elections deputy for Secretary of State Dean Heller, said the county clerks have nine working days to verify how many of the signatures are those of registered Nevada voters.

At that point, said Heller, the tougher question must be answered - whether the petitions circulated for TASC are the version properly filed with the Secretary of State's office and signed off by Carson District Judge Bill Maddox when he approved language summarizing the proposed constitutional amendment.

The AFL-CIO, on behalf of public employee unions who oppose TASC, says the Tax and Spending Control backers collected signatures on the wrong version. If that is true, they argue, the correct version of the petition has literally no signatures to qualify it for the ballot.

Unfortunately for petition backers, the difference between the two is not insignificant such as a mis-numbered page. The difference is in the base year used to begin calculating taxation and spending limits for state and local governments in Nevada. AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Danny Thompson says they commissioned a fiscal analysis which determined the difference would be $1.3 billion in total spending allowed by governments in Nevada.

Amendment author and governor's candidate Bob Beers said the version circulated is valid and that the problem is within the secretary of state's office.

No matter which way Heller rules, the issue is headed back to Maddox's court.

The Eminent Domain amendment hasn't been challenged as yet. It was sparked by a ruling last year that allows governments to condemn property then sell it to a private party for development.

Author Don Chairez says the amendment would guarantee that land condemned by government is actually used for a valid public purpose and protect the rights of property owners to be fairly compensated for condemned land.

The initiative petition proposed by Sharron Angle to impose California's Proposition 13 on Nevada failed to get enough signatures. One name gatherer submitted just three signatures in Washoe County. Organizers didn't file in any other county.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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