Las Vegas Sun

December 9, 2016

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Deadline nears for initiative signatures to end NV Energy’s monopoly

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John Locher / AP

Michelle Balistreri and Chandler Gray attend a rally in front of NV Energy on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Las Vegas. Hundreds of activists gathered outside NV Energy headquarters in Las Vegas to protest a state cap affecting rooftop solar installations and urge the Legislature to lift it.

Nevadans will soon know if they will have a chance to end NV Energy's monopoly and to restore lower rates for rooftop solar energy customers.

The deadline for submitting signature petitions on proposed constitutional amendments or referendums is 5 p.m. Tuesday, and so far none has been submitted to verify the signatures.

Wayne Thorley, chief of elections in the Secretary of State’s Office, said he has not received any notification from the counties of any petitions. But he said the supporters usually wait until the last minute to submit such documents.

Petition supporters must gather the signatures of 55,234 voters statewide. And there must be 13,809 signatures in each of the four congressional districts.

In November, Nevadans will have a chance to decide whether to allow recreational marijuana to be sold and used in Nevada and whether to tighten the law on the sale of guns. Both of these qualified earlier with the required signatures.

An initiative petition to amend the state constitution to end the monopoly of NV Power is being circulated. Matt Griffin, attorney for Nevadans for Affordable Clean Energy Choices, said Friday he did not know how many signatures had been collected but he was confident the question would qualify for the ballot.

If passed during this election and again in 2018, the measure would permit other electric companies to apply to serve Nevadans.

Sharron Angle, twice defeated in her run for the U.S. Senate, has filed three proposed constitutional amendments to appear on the November ballot. One would ban health care exchanges as now operated by the state to provide medical coverage for low-income citizens. Another would protect the information gathered in schools on students. And the third would require voters to show a government identification card before being allowed to vote.

Angle, a former assemblywoman from Reno, could not be contacted whether she has the necessary signatures to place these on the November ballot.

Also being circulated is a referendum to permit solar energy users to receive subsidies for producing and using this energy source. The state Public Utilities Commission ruled earlier this subsidy was going to the estimated 13,000 rooftop solar customers at the expense of the 1.3 million non solar customers of NV Energy.

A spokesman could not be reached regarding the status of the proposed referendum.

Doug Bennett, owner of a medical supply business, has proposed a constitutional amendment to stop imposing the sales-and-use tax on oxygen supplies and medical equipment. Bennett could not be reached for comment whether his petition has the necessary signatures.

A proposal to repeal the newly enacted commerce tax was ruled invalid by the Nevada Supreme Court and will not appear on the ballot.

And a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Nevada was withdrawn.

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