Confused by Question 3 ads? You're not alone

Published: Oct. 5, 2018 at 5:42 PM PDT
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Confused by all you hear about


If you aren't, you haven't been paying attention or you're a highly qualified economic researcher like Meredith Levine, Director of Economic Policy at the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities

She's done an exhaustive study of the issues raised by Question Three, and anyone who's heard her talk in appearances like a recent one in Carson City comes away with an appreciation of the complexity of the topic and little of the easy answers in those 30-second ads.

Basically, voters have three questions.

The first--and most important--what would its effect be on rates? Would they go up? Or would more choices force them down?

Both sides are guilty of over-reaching on this issue.

The record in other states which have done this is mixed. Levine says frankly what it would or wouldn't do to rates is unclear.

"In actuality there could be truth on both sides and there could be problems with both sides. Because we actually don't know in particular with respect to rate behavior what that might look like."

Moreover it's difficult to make comparisons between states, as each market is different.

"You don't want to compare any state against one another because each state has its own regulatory pricing structure."

Next there are the contradictory claims about Question Three's impact on renewable sources of energy, specifically solar. Both sides get a qualified false on this issue.

"There is probably no relationship between the market model and renewable energy."

Finally, as you've heard, passage of Question Three would put it in the state constitution, which can only be changed by repeating the process, going back to the voters twice more.

This is true. It's also true we'd be the only state among those that have restructured their energy industry to do it this way.

"In the past and in other states, the energy provision hasn't historically been understood as a right. However the idea here is to enshrine a new right in the constitution."

If Question Three passes, nothing would change right away. The legislature would have until 2023 to fill in the details. That's a job which has taken as much as 16 years or more to accomplish in other states.

The Guinn Center is a non-partisan research group and takes no stand on this or any other issue. They do provide analysis to help voters make informed decisions.

The full text of their study of Question 3 is a hefty volume, but their findings are summarized in a voter's guide they've produced. It's worth a read.