By SAM METZ AP/Report for America
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada voters will decide five proposed amendments to the state constitution involving issues ranging from renewable energy to same-sex marriage.
Question 2 would add the right to same-sex marriage to the state constitution, overturning an amendment voters approved in 2002 to ban the practice. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned state same-sex marriage bans in 2015, but provisions remain in the constitutions of 30 states.
Nevada voters will be the nation’s first to decide on removing the provision. Supporters have advocated for the initiative with a renewed sense of urgency since the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg upended the balance on the court.
Question 4 would add 11 voting rights and privileges into the state constitution, guaranteeing voters can have their ballots recorded accurately and cast votes without intimidation or coercion, among other rights.
Question 6 would affirm the Legislature’s push to require the use of renewable sources to generate electricity. If passed, it would add a mandate to the state constitution that utilities must generate at least 50% of their power from renewable sources, including solar, wind and geothermal.
Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the same standards into law last year, so the outcome will not change regulations. However, it would make it more difficult for opponents to reverse the decision should they reclaim power in the state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature.
The mandate will appear before voters months after NV Energy, the state’s largest utility, requested residents reduce their use of power to avoid outages as fires and a heatwave spread through the U.S. West, prompting questions about the reliability of solar power. It would further align Nevada with neighboring California, which aims to generate 60% of its power from renewables by 2030.
Question 1 and Question 3 would redistribute decision-making power among the officials overseeing the state’s higher education system and pardons board.
In an attempt to address bureaucracy and a perceived lack of transparency, lawmakers passed resolutions to qualify Question 1 for the ballot, which proposes removing the unique status of the Nevada Board of Regents from the state constitution. If passed, the amendment would take away the board’s constitutional responsibility to oversee higher education policy decisions. It would vest that power with the Legislature, while allowing the regents to continue overseeing the day-to-day operations of public colleges and universities.
Question 3 proposes changes for the state board that has the power to commute sentences and pardon individuals convicted of most crimes. Under current law, the Nevada Board of Pardons convenes infrequently and not on a set schedule. Applications can take two to five years to be heard by the board. If passed, the amendment would require the board meet four times annually and remove the governor’s power to veto the majority’s decisions.
Many voters who cast or dropped off ballots at early voting sites found the ballot questions frustrating because they addressed issues they thought were already settled.
Ed Eranga, a part-time bartender from Sparks, said he was skeptical of attempts to change the constitution. He doesn’t have particularly strong feelings about any of the questions, but is suspicious about the process of putting confusing questions in front of voters.
“The constitution has worked all these years and they’re using it to try to change the laws,” Eranga said.