(Editor’s Note: Chalk the theme of this column up to the Star Wars trailer aired during last week’s Monday Night Football game…)
The legal machinations we’re now embroiled in over efforts to simply let the people of Nevada vote on the largest tax hike in history has my head spinning. But let me try to give you all an understandable update on the Tax Wars battles your financial support is enabling us to wage on your behalf…
The “We Decide Coalition” filed Referendum #1 on August 10th seeking repeal of Senate Bill 483, Supreme Chancellor Brian Sandoval’s $1.4 billion tax hike.
Anticipating the inevitable lawsuit to block the referendum from The Empire – meaning Big Gaming, Big Mining and Big Labor – we filed a lawsuit in the 8th Judicial Court in Clark County asking the judge to rule that either SB483 violates the constitutional “single subject” rule or that our referendum seeking to repeal SB483 does NOT violate the statutory “single subject” rule for ballot measures.
The Empire can’t have it both ways.
Sith Lawyers Matt Griffin and Kevin Benson have asked for a change of venue, hoping to move the matter from Clark County to their home Starbase in Carson City – where citizen ballot initiatives have gone to die for the last decade. Our attorney – Kermit “Obi-Wan” Waters – will object.
Both matters are scheduled to be heard in Judge Jerry Wiese’s court on Tuesday.
In the meantime, Darth Griffin and Darth Benson filed a separate lawsuit against Referendum #1 in Carson City.
Knowing we’d never get a fair hearing in the Initiative Graveyard there, I filed a petition to remove the case from the state court with the federal court, alleging various violations of our civil rights, especially our right to petition government.
In addition, I later added a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on the fact that the Political Action Committee (PAC) formed and used to sue us – the Coalition for Nevada’s Future (CNF) – doesn’t have “standing.” (See: Article III of the U.S. Constitution)
In other words, the sole individual named on the PAC’s registration form, Tia Dietz – an employee of Darth Griffin – has not been harmed or injured by our referendum in any way, shape, form or fashion whatsoever. As such, she has no legal authority to sue us.
Ditto the PAC itself.
And according to the law, the minute I filed the “Petition for Removal,” the First Judicial Court at Starbase Carson City was obligated to “proceed no further” on the lawsuit.
However, despite knowing the case was essentially “frozen” until the federal court heard it, on October 1 Judge Todd Russell asked Darth Griffin and Darth Benson if it would be OK for him to go ahead and hear the case anyway.
Unsurprisingly, the Sith Lawyers gave Judge Russell the Empire’s OK to proceed even though everyone acknowledged they were operating under a federal injunction and even though I wasn’t present.
Also unsurprisingly, the result of this Star Chamber proceeding was a ruling by Judge Russell that our referendum was illegal.
In light of the unlawful hearing and decision, I have since filed a complaint with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline against Judge Russell, and we will soon file a motion with the federal court asking that Judge Russell’s unlawful decision be “vacated” (voided).
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Meanwhile, the Sith Lawyers have filed a motion with the federal court arguing that I had no right to file the “Petition for Removal” in the first place and are demanding that the federal court return the case to Starbase Carson City. We’re now drafting a response to their “Demand for Remand.”
In addition and in response to the Sith Lawyers’ claim that the “Description of Effect” in Referendum #1 was illegal, we drafted and filed Referendum #2.
The primary purpose, again, is simply to allow the citizens of Nevada to have an up-or-down vote on SB483 – the largest tax hike in Nevada history – in the next election. And all we did was change the Description of Effect to address the complaints lodged against the Description of Effect for Referendum #1.
The Sith Lawyers have sued to block Referendum #2, now arguing that not only does the referendum violate the single-subject rule, but that the preamble of the referendum is somehow confusing and illegal; a claim they did NOT raise in their lawsuit to block Referendum #1 even though the language is identical.
This may mean the filing of a Referendum #3, since the Sith Lawyers sued us rather than simply calling and politely asking us to amend the preamble language, which we would have been happy to do.
You see, the Sith Lawyers’ intent is to kill the referendum and block it from ever appearing on the ballot, not make it easier for voters to understand – though I guarantee the voters fully understand exactly what the petition is all about…
To repeal or not to repeal; that is the question.
Meanwhile, a hearing has been set on the Referendum #2 lawsuit in Starbase Carson City before Judge James Wilson, but I have not been advised yet as to when exactly that hearing is scheduled to take place.
Knowing that we are unlikely to get any more of a fair hearing in the Initiative Graveyard before Judge Wilson as we did before Judge Russell, we’re considering another “Petition for Removal” on this lawsuit, but will wait until after we see what happens tomorrow in Judge Wiese’s court in Clark County.
Navigating our legal system is a living nightmare for the average citizen. I know and fully understand this now first-hand. But here’s the bottom line for why I continue to fight this fight…
First, you and I have a constitutional right to petition our government. And our government has instituted laws that – if not on their face, at least in their implementation – infringe upon and have made it virtually impossible for us to exercise that right in Nevada.
Bear in mind that not a single challenged citizen initiative has been approved by the First Judicial Court in Carson City since the “single subject” law was passed by the Nevada Legislature in 2005. (The “margins tax” initiative last year was initially rejected by the First Judicial Court, but was ultimately approved by the Nevada Supreme Court.)
This is a fight worth fighting.
Secondly, there shouldn’t be two different standards when it comes to the definition of “single subject” – one for the rulers and one for the ruled. The people’s Legislature should have to follow the exact same rules as applied to the people themselves.
This is a fight worth fighting.
And lastly, Chancellor Sandoval and the Empire’s puppet legislators passed this year a massive $1.4 billion tax hike on the people that they hid from voters during the 2014 election cycle and over the objections of the people, as evidenced by the overwhelming rejection of the “gross receipts tax” that was on the ballot.
As such, the people deserve an opportunity to approve or reject the Empire’s tax hike in a referendum vote next November.
This is a fight worth fighting.
And thanks to your support, we’re still in there slugging it out.
It’s an uphill battle against tremendous odds. But it’s a fight worth fighting.