Restore citizen rights

Last year, I requested a legislative bill draft to fix Nevada’s law governing initiative petitions. The intent of this bill draft was to restore a critical constitutional right to Nevada voters and to preserve one of the checks and balances needed for good government.

The rejection of the train trench and the Fuji Park petitions by the Nevada Supreme Court denied voters that constitutional right. The focus of fixing this law should be about restoring that right.

In both cases, thousands of voters signed these initiative petitions with the expectation of having a say on those controversial issues. In both cases, hundreds of hours were dedicated largely on a volunteer basis to collect those signatures.

A person’s position on the train trench and Fuji Park initiatives should not distract from fixing this law.

Although some will argue that we elect our leaders to make decisions for us, there must be room for our citizens to participate in their government. This is what our Founding Fathers prescribed in the First Amendment, which grants us the right to petition government to redress grievances.

Another intent of my bill draft was to clarify Nevada’s election law that prohibits state agencies and local governments from using tax dollars to support or oppose a ballot question or a candidate.

I was appalled by the city of Reno’s lawsuit to nullify the trench petition in court. Taxpayer dollars should never be used to support or oppose a ballot question, nor should taxpayer dollars be used to fund a SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) lawsuit against its citizens.

The law needs to be amended to prohibit local governments from going to court to prevent a vote on a ballot referendum.

Since I will not be returning to the Legislature this year, I want to commend Assemblyman Bernie Anderson of Sparks for agreeing to sponsor this legislation and my former colleagues and other elected officials who have pledged to support it. I want to thank former Nevada Supreme Justice Cliff Young for his support of my efforts in this area as well.

It is my hope that this legislation begins a healing process in our community. One of the legacies that I hope I have left in my 16 years of legislative service is making this state’s government work for its people. The passage of this legislation with its original intent will compound that legacy.

On a personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my friends, former colleagues and supporters for all of their expressions of support and sympathy in the aftermath of my husband’s death last year. Your kindness and concern for me is my strength in times of sorrow.