Las Vegas Sun

July 18, 2019

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Appeals court rejects challenge to casino tip-sharing plan

CARSON CITY – A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge by a Las Vegas group that wanted to protect casino dealers from sharing their tips with their supervisors.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision by Secretary of State Ross Miller, who ruled that a proposed initiative petition by the Prevent Employers from Seizing Tips (PEST) group was defective.

The decision also denies the petition by We the People Nevada, which sought to put an initiative petition on the election ballot to limit property taxes similar to California Proposition 13.

The tips group filed suit claiming the requirements in the initiative petition law violated freedom of the speech. The law says that for a petition to be placed on the ballot, it must be confined to a single subject and must carry a description of its effect.

The appeals court, in a 27-page decision written by Judge Arthur Alarcon, said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt was correct because neither of these requirements “constitutes a direct regulation of core political speech or imposes a severe burden on PEST committee’s First Amendment rights.”

Alarcon said the requirement that an initiative have a single requirement prevents “the enactment of unpopular provisions by attaching them to more attractive proposals or concealing them in lengthy, complex initiatives.”

The petition law also requires that a 200 word or less description of the effect of the initiative be included with the initiative. The appeals court said this is important in “preventing voter confusion and promoting informed decision making.”

The court held neither of these requirements violated the Constitution.

In the We the People Nevada case, supporters submitted the petition with signatures to the secretary of state’s office, but opponents claimed it was defective. Problems with affidavits led to the Secretary of State rejecting the initiative for the ballot. The Nevada Supreme Court upheld that ruling and the issue didn't go to voters.

Member of Prevent Employers from Seizing Tips were Tony Badillo, Al Maurice and Jack Lipsman. Kenny Blackman, a former dealer at Wynn Las Vegas, led an effort to overturn Wynn’s policy of requiring its dealer to share their tips with supervisors.

We the People is a ballot advocacy group that sought to place the property tax initiative on the 2008 Nevada ballot.

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