Thursday, January 31, 2013

And It's Back!

Just minutes ago, the Nevada Supreme Court issued its ruling on The Education Initiative. And public education activists can now rejoice.

In a unanimous opinion issued Thursday, justices rejected arguments that the petition was flawed. It will now go to the 2013 Legislature, and more likely to voters in 2014.

The measure was pushed by the state teachers union and other labor groups. They argued it would raise $800 million a year for education and supporters gathered more than 150,000 signatures to send the proposal to state lawmakers.

But a pro-business organization challenged the measure, arguing a required 200-word description of what it would do was misleading because it doesn’t guarantee more money for education.

Justices, however, said the description need not articulate every possible ramification.

Frankly, I'm surprised. While I felt the district court ruling would be overturned, I wasn't expecting a unanimous decision. This definitely settles the legal issues for good. Education activists can now look forward to the next step, which starts next week.

We've discussed the legal case against The Education Initiative before. It was truly quite flimsy. Basically, "Tea Party, Inc." lawyers were hoping to trap it in a "legal Catch 22" where its efforts to abide by Nevada's "single subject rule" actually disqualified it. I guess Nevada's Supremes were having none of it.

But now comes a bigger hurdle. Next week, the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature begins. And legislators will have to decide what to do with this initiative. If they approve, then it becomes law this year. But if they don't approve the specific language of this initiative, it will go to "We the People" on next year's general election ballot.

Already, some legislators are sounding queasy about it. Too bad. "We the People" seem to same the kind of tax reform offered by this initiative (as opposed to the usual deform offered by the Legislature). And the facts on the ground dictate that we must do a better job of investing in our people.

So either legislators will need to think hard about what the Nevada Supreme Court is handing them... Or they will have to explain to voters next year why they are punting to us. Either way, we will finally see an opportunity to start fixing Nevada's broken public infrastructure and failed tax code. And that's something progressives can be thankful for today.

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