Nevadans will decide more than the White House occupancy this November.
Also appearing on the 2020 general election ballot will be at least five state-level decisions focused on same-sex marriage, voting rights, higher education, renewable energy and pardons.
Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske on Thursday announced the ballot numbers for the constitutional amendments whose fate will rest in the hands of voters this fall. To get to this point, these proposed amendments passed two legislative sessions — 2017 and 2019.
Question 1 is the Nevada Higher Education Reform, Accountability and Oversight Amendment. It proposes removing the Board of Regents from the state constitution and authorizing the Legislature to create new statutes for the governance of the state’s institutions of higher education. The specifics on the proposed amendment are detailed in 2017’s Assembly Joint Resolution 5.
Question 2 is a proposal to amend the state constitution to require the recognition of all marriages regardless of gender. The Nevada Constitution currently reads that only marriages between a male and a female person can be recognized by the state. That position became unenforceable in 2015 with the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v Hodges decision, which legalized same-sex marriage nationally.
Beyond cleaning up the outdated language of the state constitution, this proposal also establishes the rights of religious organizations and members of the clergy to refuse to perform marriages on the basis of gender or other factors. The specifics on the proposed amendment are detailed in 2017’s Assembly Joint Resolution 2.
Question 3 proposes changes to the State Board of Pardon Commissioners, which consists of the governor, attorney general and justices of the Nevada Supreme Court. The proposed amendment would eliminate an existing requirement that the governor vote in the majority for any action. It would also require the board to meet at least quarterly and allow any member of the board to submit matters for consideration. The specifics on the proposed amendment are detailed in 2017’s Senate Joint Resolution 1.
Question 4 is a proposal to codify existing voting rights laws into the constitution. This includes the right to vote without being intimidated or threatened, to request assistance in voting, and the right to cast your ballot if you are waiting in line at a polling place when the polls close. The specifics on the proposed amendment are detailed in 2017’s Senate Joint Resolution 3.
These four Legislature-prompted ballot questions will be joined by one petition-driven effort, the Renewable Energy Promotion Initiative, also known as Question 6. This question should be familiar to many, as it appeared on the 2018 ballot (also as Question 6) and passed with 59 percent of the vote. Petition-driven initiatives must be approved by voters twice before becoming part of the Nevada Constitution.
Question 6 would require electric utilities to acquire at least 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
In 2019, the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 358, a bill that mandated electric utilities acquire at least 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That means passing Question 6 this November would not change the existing renewable energy goals set by the state. However, it would set them into the state constitution, making it difficult for politicians to change.
Two other proposals for constitutional amendments have been formally filed with the Secretary of State but have yet to meet the signature requirement needed to appear on the ballot. The first proposal would establish a redistricting commission to map electoral districts for the Nevada Senate, Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives. The second proposal would make sweeping changes to the Nevada Senate, including shortening term limits and moving to ranked-choice voting.
Organizers of those efforts have until June 24 to secure 97,598 valid signatures from across the state. If they make that deadline, they will be assigned a question number and appear on the 2020 general election ballot. Both would need to be approved by a majority of voters in 2020 and 2022 in order to be written into the Nevada Constitution.