Court Promises Expedited Review of Ballot Questions

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The state Supreme Court agreed Thursday to speed up its review of an appeal by Nevada's secretary of state of a lower court order that qualified two more proposals for the November ballot.

The high court granted Dean Heller's request to expedite the appeal and gave his office until Aug. 11 to file its opening brief in the case. Briefs are due Aug. 18 from advocates of the proposals to raise the minimum wage and to stop frivolous lawsuits, and a final brief from Heller is due Aug. 25.

Heller has said he hadn't planned to appeal a decision by Carson City District Judge Bill Maddox that granted ballot status for the proposals, but had no other choice because another lawsuit is based partly on Maddox' ruling "and the possibility exists that others may follow."

The secretary of state contends he followed the Nevada Constitution in making his initial decision against the proposals, and claims by petition advocates that he was trying to thwart the will of the public were "not only baseless but downright ridiculous."

After Maddox ordered the questions onto the ballot, Heller promptly recalculated the signature count for both proposals 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.

The secretary of state's office had said petitioners 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.

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