More Questions Added To November Ballot

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In line with a court order, Nevada's secretary of state declared Wednesday that proposals to raise Nevada's hourly minimum wage and to block frivolous lawsuits have qualified for the November ballot.

Dean Heller said he recalculated the signature count for both proposals following Carson City District Judge Bill Maddox' ruling Tuesday, and determined they easily met a requirement for a minimum of 51,337 signatures.

The proposal to raise the minimum wage by $1, to $6.15 an hour, gained 10,499 more signatures for a total of 59,718. The frivolous lawsuits proposal picked up 8,025 signatures for a total of 57,617.

A petition to ease Nevada's marijuana laws wasn't part of the case before Maddox. Even if it had been, Heller said it still would have fallen short of the minimum signature count by 1,249 names. That proposal also didn't meet a requirement to have signatures equal to 10 percent of the turnout in the 2002 elections in 13 of the state's 17 counties.

After a two-hour hearing, Maddox ordered the minimum wage and frivolous lawsuit proposals onto the ballot, saying, "We should favor the people of the state of Nevada expressing their opinions."

The secretary of state's office had said petitioners had turned in what appeared to be more than enough names - but some of the petitions lacked an affidavit from a petition signer, attesting that other signatures were those of registered voters. Petition gatherers also sign an affidavit that says the signatures are valid.

"The 'boy, is that stupid' test applies here," Maddox said, adding that would be the reaction of a petition signer when asked to sign another document attesting that other signatures of total strangers also were valid.

Maddox said the person stating the other signatures were those of registered Nevada voters would have to take the petition circulator's word for it, or stand around for hours witnessing each of the signatures.

The judge said the double-signature requirement that's in the Nevada Constitution clashes with a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision on ballot proposals.

Sam McMullen, representing the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, said an appeal to the state Supreme Court is likely. Renee Parker, chief deputy secretary of state, said her office wouldn't initiate an appeal, but probably would support a petition to overturn Maddox' decision.

Two other petitions, to scrap the $833 million tax increase approved by lawmakers last year and to bar public employees from holding elective office, are still going through a signature verification process.