NV Democrat hopes to eliminate term limits and two-thirds majority rule
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Some major changes to how Nevada raises taxes and elects people could be taking place in the upcoming legislative session.
While it's too early to say exactly how these bills will take shape, an initial list of bill draft requests offers a window into how the session might look. On the list are two constitutional amendments that deal with how lawmakers operate. The first would eliminate the need for a two-thirds majority in the legislature to raise taxes.
Democratic State Senator Tick Segerblom is sponsoring that measure. He says the current rule makes it almost impossible to raise revenue for things like education.
"I think this has proven totally unworkable because there's virtually no way to get a consensus on a two-thirds vote to increase taxes. While the intentions might have been good, it's not conducive to a good democracy. Majority should be able to rule, and, in my opinion, Nevada needs to raise more revenue."
Until the mid-1990s, only a simple majority was necessary to raise taxes, but a statewide initiative changed that when Governor Jim Gibbons was in office.
The second amendment, also being pushed by Segerblom, is to do away with 12 year term limits for elected officials. That too, he says, ties the hands of lawmakers because it doesn't give them enough time to get the experience and then work on complex legislative issues. Term limits gained special attention this year when the Nevada Supreme Court barred termed out Reno City Council Members from running for mayor. Like the two-thirds majority rule, term limits are also the product of a ballot question that Segerblom says was not well-thought-out.
"Now we have had a chance to really look back and realize it really has harmed Nevada, especially when you have a part-time legislature to go further and limit how long people can serve really means you end up having lobbyists run the show. That's not good for anybody."
Segerblom says he hasn't formally broached these ideas to other lawmakers yet. But Republican Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey of Reno says both won't receive his support. As far as he's concerned, the voters put the two-thirds majority rule in place for a reason. It helps build consensus and puts an appropriate check on taxes.
"To have a broader consensus, more than simply a fifty plus one majority on a particular matter, makes it a heavier lift, it's true. But it's a serious consideration (raising taxes), especially in Nevada; we are not a state that taxes as high as many others."
Hickey wouldn't support getting rid of term limits, either. Other states have shorter limits than Nevada, he says. And, while it's good to have institutional memory, Hickey believes voters would not get behind it.
"I don't think you're going to get elected folks going against, if you will, the will of the people, especially in the pronounced way they spoke to that when it was on the ballot."
Since both of these would be constitutional amendments, the bills would need to pass the legislature twice and then go to the voters in 2018.