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December 18, 2018

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State officials navigate implementation of voter-approved ballot measures

Market

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

In this June 22, 2016 file photo, Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton’s Market, in Sacramento, Calif. Nevada has voted to waive taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products.

Automatic voter registration and new rights for crime victims will take months to implement, and the agencies carrying out the changes say they’re just starting to piece together first steps in applying ballot measures approved early this month by voters.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected Question 3, a ballot measure to bring competition to Nevada’s energy market, while the four other questions on the ballot became law and one will head to another vote in 2020. The Secretary of State’s Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles are just some of the agencies working to respond to the new laws.

Here’s a look:

State Question No. 1

Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to: (1) remove existing provisions that require the Legislature to provide certain statutory rights for crime victims; and (2) adopt in their place certain expressly stated constitutional rights that crime victims may assert throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process?

Yes: 61.2 percent

No: 38.8 percent

The Legislature put Marsy’s Law on this year’s ballot to create a crime victims’ bill of rights, seeking to make it easier for all victims to be notified when the suspect in their case is released on bail. The new law also carries provisions requiring victim restitution take precedence over state and local assessments, fees, fines, forfeitures and other charges.

The ballot measure doesn’t specify how these rights are to be carried out, said Jennifer Rey, victims services administrator with the Nevada Department of Corrections. She said she expects some specific next steps to come out of a report by the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice and Crime and Justice Institute. Lawmakers will get to review the findings as well.

Rey said it’s unclear how officials will create a system that can communicate with all victims to notify them of when the suspect in their case is released by authorities. The VINE system has been used for victims who opt into the program, but Rey said it has limitations and cost-prohibitive issues to expanding it to all victims statewide.

State Question No. 2

Shall the Sales and Use Tax Act of 1955 be amended to provide an exemption from the taxes imposed by this Act on the gross receipts from the sale and the storage, use or other consumption of feminine hygiene products?

Yes: 56.49 percent

No: 43.51 percent

Women buying feminine hygiene products can expect the tax they pay to go away come January, says Stephanie Klapstein, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Taxation.

The tax will go dark at least through 2028. The exemption can only be temporary under Nevada law, and would expire if it isn't renewed.

“For that exemption, we will be doing some communication with businesses to let them know the category of products that they will no longer have to collect sales tax on,” Klapstein said.

State Question No. 4

Shall Article 10 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the exemption of durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for use by a licensed health care provider from any tax upon the sale, storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property?

Yes: 67.38 percent

No: 32.62 percent

The 2019 Legislature and governor will need to act to implement this measure, said Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein.

“The ballot question itself only permits changes to the constitution to allow for the exemption, but doesn’t make those changes,” she said.

State Question No. 5

Shall Chapter 293 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to establish a system that will automatically register an eligible person to vote, or update that person’s existing Nevada voter registration information, at the time the person applies to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles for the issuance or renewal of any type of driver’s license or identification card, or makes a request to change the address on such a license or identification card, unless the person affirmatively declines in writing?

Yes: 59.58 percent

No: 40.42 percent

Both the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles are collaborating to determine next steps to implement the law. Jennifer Russell, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Barbara K. Cegavske, said it’s still to early to know what the next steps and timeline for the switch will be.

“In addition, DMV is going through a huge technology upgrade and we have to see how this is all going to fit together,” she said in a statement.

The two departments are scheduling meetings and preparing to lay out a plan for the rollout, said Alex Smith, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. She said officials are not concerned that the department’s $115 million, five-year technology upgrade will interfere with the implementation of automatic voter registration.

“We’re always dealing with legislative changes,” Smith said. “We don’t plan for anything until it actually passes.”

State Question No. 6

Shall Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require, beginning in calendar year 2022, that all providers of electric utility services who sell electricity to retail customers for consumption in Nevada generate or acquire incrementally larger percentages of electricity from renewable energy resources so that by calendar year 2030 not less than 50 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by each provider to its retail customers in Nevada comes from renewable energy resources?

Yes: 59.29 percent

No: 40.71 percent

Question 6 needs to be approved again in 2020 before it can become law, but legislators are eyeing a bill in 2019 given the high level of support the measure received.

Democrats and Republicans alike have said the RPS is going to be an issue this session. Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson said he is planning to introduce a bill, possibly calling for a standard as high as 100 percent renewables by 2050.

NV Energy is pursuing projects that will double the utility’s renewables by 2023, said spokeswoman Jennifer Schuricht. Renewables make up 23.8 percent of the energy the company sells to customers, above the current standard of 20 percent. State law says NV Energy must reach 25 percent by 2025.

Advocates of the initiative called for lawmakers to act in the upcoming legislative session rather than wait for 2020.

“We're prepared to fight and win again in two years, but we shouldn't have to,” said Katie Robbins, campaign manager of Nevadans for a Clean Energy Future and the YES on 6 initiative. “The people of Nevada have made a clear statement about the future they want, and they should not have to wait for it to become a reality.”