2020 Elections

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2020 Ballot Questions

Nevada Question 1, Remove Constitutional Status of Board of Regents Amendment (2020)

Election date
November 3, 2020

Topic
Education

Status
On the ballot

Type
Constitutional amendment

Origin
State legislature

Nevada Question 1, the Remove Constitutional Status of Board of Regents Amendment, is on the ballot in Nevada as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

A “yes” vote supports removing the constitutional status of the Board of Regents—which governs, controls, and manages the state universities in Nevada—thereby allowing the state legislature to review and change the governing organization of state universities.

A “no” vote opposes removing the constitutional status of the Board of Regents, thereby keeping the current governing organization of state universities without state legislative authority to change it.

Overview

Why is the Nevada State Board of Regents in the constitution?

  • The Nevada Constitutionestablishes the Nevada State Board of Regents, which controls eight public institutions of higher education in Nevada, including the University of Nevada System.
  • The original New Mexico Constitution included language that established “a State University which shall embrace departments for Agriculture, Mechanic Arts, and Mining.” This language was included to make Nevada eligible for the federal Morrill Act. The Morrill Act provided states with federal land to sell for the purpose of financing colleges. The Nevada Constitution also required the board of regents to invest proceeds from land sales.[1]

What would Question 1 change about the board?

  • Question 1 would repeal the constitutional provisions concerning the Nevada State Board of Regents. Removing the constitutional status of the board would allow the state legislatureto review and change the governing organization of the Nevada System of Higher Education.[1]
  • Question 1 would also require the state legislature to make laws providing for the “reasonable protection of individual academic freedom” for students, employees, and contractors of state universities to encourage the promotion of “intellectual, literary, scientific, mining, mechanical, agricultural, ethical and other educational improvements.”[1]
  • Question 1 would put the State of Nevada, rather than the Nevada State Board of Regents, in charge of investing federal land grants.[1]

Nevada Question 2, Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment (2020)

Nevada Question 2, the Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment, is on the ballot in Nevada as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020

A “yes” vote supports this constitutional amendment to recognize marriage as between couples regardless of gender; state that religious organizations and clergypersons have the right to refuse to solemnize a marriage; and repeal Question 2 (2002), which defined marriage as between a male person and female person.

A “no” vote opposes this constitutional amendment, thus keeping Question 2 (2002), which defined marriage as between a male person and female person, in the Nevada Constitution.

Overview

What would Question 2 change?

See also: Text of the measure

Question 2 would repeal Question 2 (2002), which amended the Nevada Constitution to state that marriage between a male and female was the only type of marriage recognized by the state. Question 2 (2020) would instead define marriage as between couples regardless of gender. It would also state that religious organizations and clergypersons have the right to refuse to solemnize a marriage.[2] The proposed amendment would have no practical effect on which couples could receive marriage licenses due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which rendered laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman unconstitutional.

What states have repealed constitutional bans on same-sex marriage?

See also: Constitutional bans on same-sex marriage

Nevada is the first state to ask voters to repeal a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage and/or defining marriage as between one man and one woman. As of May 2020, Nevada was one of 30 states with this type of constitutional amendment. Between 2015 (when Obergefell was issued) and 2019, none of the 30 states had referred ballot measures asking voters to repeal their constitutional amendments.

How did Question 2 get placed on the ballot?

See also: Path to the ballot

According to Section 1 of Article 16 of the Nevada Constitution, an amendment proposed by the legislature must be approved by a majority in both the House and Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions. Question 2 was introduced as Assembly Joint Resolution 2 (AJR 2) on February 1, 2017. In the first legislative session, the Nevada State Assembly approved the measure in a vote of 27 to 14, and the Nevada State Senate approved the measure in a vote of 19 to 2. In the second legislative session, the Nevada State Senate approved it again by the same margin. In the second legislative session, the Nevada State Assembly approved the measure in a vote of 37 to 2. In the first session, one Republican and all 28 Democrats voted in favor of it. In the second session, nine Republicans and all 28 Democrats voted in favor of it.

Nevada Question 3, State Board of Pardons Commissioners Amendment (2020)

Nevada Question 3, the Nevada State Board of Pardons Commissioners Amendment, is on the ballot in Nevada as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

A “yes” vote supports this ballot measure to require the State Board of Pardons Commissioners (SBPC), which is responsible for granting pardons, to meet four times per year, allow any board member to submit an issue for the board’s consideration, and provide that a majority of board members is sufficient to issue a pardon.

A “no” vote opposes this ballot measure, thus providing no constitutional requirement for how often the State Board of Pardons Commissioners (SBPC) must meet and providing that a majority of board members, including the governor, are needed to issue a pardon.

Overview

What would Question 3 change about the pardons commission?

Question 3 would make changes to the constitutional structure and duties of the State Board of Pardons Commissioners (SBPC). The SBPC has the power to remit fines and forfeitures, commute punishments, and grant pardons, except for treason; impeachments; and death sentences or life sentences without possibility of parole.[1][2][3]

The SBPC consists of the governorattorney general, and the seven justices of the Nevada Supreme Court. Currently, to grant a pardon to an offender, a majority of the board must vote in favor, and the governor must be included in the majority that voted in favor. The ballot measure would eliminate the requirement that the governor be included in the majority to grant a pardon.[1][2]

As of 2019, state statute requires the SBPC to meet twice per year. The ballot measure would require the SBPC to meet four times per year. The ballot measure would also allow any member of the board to submit an issue for the full SBPC’s consideration.

Nevada Question 4, State Constitutional Rights of Voters Amendment (2020)

Nevada Question 4, the State Constitutional Rights of Voters Amendment, is on the ballot in Nevada as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

A “yes” vote supports this constitutional amendment to provide voters with a constitutional right to certain voting procedures.

A “no” vote opposes this constitutional amendment to provide voters with a constitutional right to certain voting procedures.

Overview

What would Question 4 do?

Question 4 would add the state’s declaration of voters’ rights, which was passed as a statute in 2002, to the Nevada Constitution. The amendment would provide qualified persons who are registered to vote with a constitutional right to receive and cast a ballot that is written in a “format that allows the clear identification of candidates” and “accurately records the voter’s preference in the selection of candidates.” It also would provide registered voters with other constitutional rights, including:[1]

(a) to have questions about voting procedures answered and have voting procedures posted in a visible location at the polling place;

(b) to vote without intimidation, threats, or coercion;

(c) to vote during any early-voting period or on election day if the voter is in line at the time polls close;

(d) to return a spoiled ballot and receive a replacement ballot;

(e) to request assistance in voting if necessary;

(f) to a sample ballot “which is accurate, informative and delivered in a timely manner;”

(g) to receive instruction on how to use voting equipment;

(h) to equal access to the elections system without discrimination, including on the basis of “race, age, disability, military service, employment or overseas residence;”

(i) to a “uniform, statewide standard for counting and recounting all votes accurately;” and

(j) to have “complaints about elections and election contests resolved fairly, accurately and efficiently.”

Nevada Renewable Energy Standards Initiative (2020)

Election date
November 3, 2020

Topic
Energy

Status
On the ballot

Type
Constitutional amendment

Origin
Citizens

Nevada Question 4, the State Constitutional Rights of Voters Amendment, is on the ballot in Nevada as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

A “yes” vote supports amending the state Constitution to require electric utilities to acquire 50 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030.

A “no” vote opposes amending the state Constitution, thus maintaining the statutory requirements that require electric utilities to acquire 50 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030.

In Nevada, initiated constitutional amendments need to be approved in two consecutive even-numbered election years. In 2018, this ballot initiative was approved as Question 6, and therefore needs to be approved again in 2020 to amend the Nevada Constitution.

Overview

What would the ballot initiative change about energy policy in Nevada?

See also: Text of the measure

The amendment would add language to the Nevada Constitution requiring the state’s (RPS)) to increase to 50 percent by 2030. An RPS is a mandate that electric utilities acquire a minimum amount of electricity from renewable energy sources. The constitutional amendment would increase the RPS to 50 percent by 2030. The amendment would also define renewable energy to include sources such as solar, geothermal, wind, biomass, and hydroelectric. Specifically, it would require an increased RPS each year until reaching 50 percent in 2030.[1]

On April 22, 2019, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which was designed to require the same RPS percentage by 2030 as the amendment on the ballot. The chart below illustrates how law before SB 358 compares to the RPS adopted by SB 358 and the RPS proposed by the amendment.

How does Senate Bill 358 relate to this amendment?

See also: Senate Bill 358

On March 18, 2019, Nevada Senator Chris Brooks (D-Las Vegas) introduced Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which was designed to require electric utilities to acquire 50 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030. A similar law, AB 206 (2017), was vetoed by the former governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval (R), in June 2017. In 2019, Nevada formed a Democratic trifecta, which made the passage of SB 358 less vulnerable to a veto.[2]

On April 22, 2019, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed SB 358 into law. In his testimony before the Nevada Senate Committee on Growth and Infrastructure, Sen. Brooks, said, “In 2018, the voters of Nevada decisively advanced, by a 60-40% margin, Question 6—a constitutional amendment that would move our state towards a 50 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard. If approved again in 2020, it would become a part of the state’s constitution. I am introducing Senate Bill 358 in the spirit of this ballot initiative. It declares that this Legislature is committed to a robust renewable portfolio standard and establishes a more comprehensive ramp-up to 50% within the next decade.” The 2020 amendment would place the requirement enacted by SB 358 that (RPS)) in the state increase to 50 percent by 2030 in the Nevada Constitution. The incremental increases enacted by SB 358 are a few percentage points higher between 2020 and 2024 than the amendment’s requirements.[3]

How does this amendment relate to Nevada Question 6 (2018)?

See also: Nevada Question 6, Renewable Energy Standards Initiative

In Nevada, initiated constitutional amendments need to be approved in two even-numbered election years, meaning that Question 6, which was approved in 2018, needs to be approved again in 2020 to amend the Nevada Constitution. Question 6 was approved with 59.28 percent of the vote.

NextGen Climate Action proposed the initiative. NextGen Climate Action, which was founded by Tom Steyer, financed the campaign Nevadans for a Clean Energy Future to support Question 6. Nevadans for a Clean Energy Future raised $10.74 million, including $10.35 million from NextGen Climate Action.[4]

The Coalition of Energy Users led the campaign in opposition to Question 6. Nevada State Sen. Don Gustavson (R-14) was the campaign’s chairperson. The Coalition of Energy Users was a nonprofit organization and thus did not need to report contributions.[4]

Text of measure

Constitutional changes

See also: Article 4, Nevada Constitution

The ballot initiative would add a new section to Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution. The following text would be added:[1]

1. Statement of Policy

The People of the State of Nevada declare that it is the policy of this State that people and entities that sell electricity to retail customers in this State be required to get an increasing amount of their electricity from renewable energy resources such as solar, geothermal, and wind. Increasing renewable energy will reduce the State’s reliance on fossil fuel-fired power plants, which will benefit Nevadans by improving air quality and public health, reducing water use, reducing exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices and supply disruptions, and providing a more diverse portfolio of resources for generating electricity. This Act shall be liberally construed to achieve this purpose.

2. Implementation

(a) Each provider of electric utility service that is engaged in the business of selling electricity to retail customers for consumption in this State shall generate or acquire electricity from renewable energy resources, including solar, geothermal, wind, biomass, and waterpower, in an amount that is:

(i) For calendar years 2022 and 2023, not less than 26 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by the provider to its retail customers in this State during that calendar year.

(ii) For calendar years 2024 through 2026, inclusive, not less than 34 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by the provider to its retail customers in this State during that calendar year.

(iii) For calendar years 2027 through 2029, inclusive, not less than 42 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by the provider to its retail customers in this State during that calendar year.

(iv) For calendar year 2030 and each calendar year thereafter, not less than 50 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by the provider to its retail customers in this State during that calendar year.

(b) Not later than July 1, 2021, the Legislature shall provide, by law, for provisions consistent with this Act to implement the requirements specified in subparagraph (a).

 

Severability

Should any part of this Act be declared invalid, or the application thereof to any person, thing or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect the remaining provisions or application of this Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable. This subsection shall be construed broadly to preserve and effectuate the declared purpose of this Act.[5]