CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A Nevada version of California's Proposition 13 property tax cap got a much-needed boost Wednesday as the state Supreme Court ruled election officials improperly rejected thousands of signatures from supporters who want the plan on the November ballot.
The high court's order favors We the People, a group headed by state Senate candidate Sharron Angle who failed in 2004 and 2006 to get enough signatures for similar tax-cap plans.
Angle appealed to the Supreme Court following a refusal by Secretary of State Ross Miller to accept the signatures on grounds they were filed about 20 minutes too late on a May 20 deadline. That refusal had appeared to kill the plan for this election cycle.
The deadline was established by the 2007 Legislature. Angle contended that the new requirement clashed with the Nevada Constitution and her group actually had until June 17 to file the signatures.
Justices agreed, knocking down the 2007 law and holding that legislators can't enact something that "would directly inhibit the people's initiative power" reserved to them under terms of the constitution.
Under terms of the court's 7-page order, Miller was directed to tell county clerks to proceed with a signature verification process that includes the signatures filed on May 20 in Las Vegas as well as names submitted on June 17 to election officials in Reno.
To qualify for the ballot, the petitioners must have a total of 58,628 valid signatures of supporters.
The names brought to the Clark County registrar's office on May 20 arrived after that office had closed, and initiative supporters returned the next day to file them. Besides being late, some of the documents lacked original signatures as required by law, Miller had said.
The Nevada Constitution allows petitioners to work until 90 days before the general election, which is Nov. 4 this year. Angle argued successfully that the constitution also allows the Legislature to move that deadline back by as much as 65 days to ensure enough time to verify signatures - but lawmakers went too far in 2007 by moving it back 77 days.
Angle's proposed constitutional amendment would limit property tax increases to 2 percent per year, rather than the current cap of 3 percent for homeowners passed by the Legislature in 2005, until a property is sold.
Angle, an anti-tax conservative who previously served in the state Assembly, is challenging Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio in the Aug. 12 Republican primary.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)