Moapa Valley voters will be faced with five ballot questions in the upcoming election. Though these types of items are considered by many voters as an incidental afterthought, this year’s questions actually carry significant weight. They merit some careful consideration from voters.
The nuts-and-bolts of each of the five ballot questions are covered in a separate report in this week’s edition of the PROGRESS. That article is an objective resource and we would refer our readers to it to help them become better informed voters. Here we offer our recommendations on the items.
Question 1 would require federal background checks for the private sale or transfer of firearms in Nevada. Viewing the senseless gun violence that is done daily in our society, it is easy to sympathize with the impulse to control the flow of these weapons from one owner to another. After all, who would NOT do all that is possible to prevent a gun from falling into the hands of a terrorist, criminal, or other psychopath.
Unfortunately, this initiative will not be effective in preventing such crimes. In fact, it would have little effect on gun crimes at all because it is not aimed at criminals, murderers and terrorists. Instead it punishes the majority of gun owners who go out of their way to comply with the law. Question 1 would make a simple, straightforward transaction between two consenting parties into a logistical nightmare. Furthermore, it would take money out of the pockets of decent people to feed a never-ending bureaucratic paper chase that would accomplish very little in really preventing gun violence.
Governor Brian Sandoval along with the State Attorney General and most of the county sheriffs in the state have come down against Question 1. That should be proof positive for anyone that this measure is not aimed at the right target for keeping guns away from criminals. The PROGRESS recommends a NO vote on Question 1.
Question 2 would legalize the possession and use of a small amount of marijuana for people over the age of 21 in Nevada. Proponents claim that this measure would finally end the criminalization of the marijuana industry and would deal a heavy blow to drug cartels. But that claim has not been proven out in other states who have taken this action. After all, the heavy regulatory cost of operating such a business legally in the state would likely ensure a long and healthy future for the cheaper black market. Rest assured, the cartels would go on doing their brisk business for many years to come.
What proponents ignore is the health, safety and societal costs of legalizing marijuana use. This measure will raise a myriad of problems for law enforcement and legislators such as dealing with questions of driving under the influence, functioning in the workplace and the inescapable effect upon, and implicit message to, Nevada’s children.
In reference to the children, proponents will no doubt point to the protective restrictions forbidding marijuana packaging to be aimed at young people. After all, packaging would NOT be allowed to present the product in a way that would be enticing to kids, they say. Thus kids won’t be interested in it, or affected by it, they claim.
But this assertion doesn’t pass the smell test. Recreational marijuana items in other states have often taken the form of candy products which could be appealing to children despite drab packaging. In addition, one might look no further than the tobacco industry to see that products which are considered “cool” and “grown up” will appeal to a certain section of young people, no matter how they are packaged.
The legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of Nevada would bring such a maelstrom of problems and societal ills that it would scarcely be worth whatever revenue it might bring to the state’s coffers. The PROGRESS recommends a NO vote on Question 2.
Question 3 has received far less media play and attention than the first two initiatives on the ballot. But this measure may prove to be every bit as important in its broad effects on the pocketbooks of Nevadans.
Question 3 seeks to establish a competitive energy market in the state. It would deregulate the energy industry and “guarantee” that energy customers have the right to choose their energy provider and/or generate their own electricity for resale.
On the surface, a free market seems like a good way to go. But the energy industry is a complex one and there are good reasons why a legal, and tightly regulated, monopoly exists.
The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) is in place to champion the interests of ratepayers and protect them from predatory behaviors, or just plain ignorance, which can exist among providers and consumers in a free market.
For example, recently environmental groups have been calling for the mandated use of renewable energy and the sharp reduction of cheaper fossil fuel generation; no matter what the cost is to ratepayers. Where renewable projects have been shown to pencil out reasonably well for ratepayers, they have been approved by the PUCN. But where projects and proposals have ignored simple concepts of economics and have threatened to increase costs significantly and needlessly to the ratepayer, they have been rejected. Thank goodness for the PUCN in those cases.
These same concerns extend into the would-be major players of the regional energy markets. Though NV Energy customers complain about paying high rates for power, they are still significantly lower than those facing ratepayers of California. But the deregulation comprehended in Question 3 could eventually be wielded to levelize regional power markets. It could be employed to bring equity to those markets: easing the costs to Californians by placing the burden for those savings onto the backs of Nevadans.
While it’s true that Moapa Valley doesn’t get its power from NV Energy, rest assured such deregulation would eventually put pressures onto the Overton Power District. Last time there was a deregulation in the energy markets, we reaped the whirlwind of the 1990s ENRON crisis. And believe it or not, OPD customers are still paying the bill for a limited involvement in that mess.
Don’t be taken in by all the talk of free market principles surrounding this initiative. The PROGRESS recommends a NO vote on Question 3.
Question 4 would exempt certain home medical equipment from state sales tax. While this measure amounts to a subsidy for a small, albeit needy, segment of the population, the figures involved are literally pennies.
It is really nothing new. Taxpayers are routinely asked to dole out much greater sums to recipients of a host of welfare and entitlement programs; many of which are far more questionable than this simple measure.
This initiative is not a hand-out, it is simply a tax break. It is aimed, not at able-bodied people that probably ought to go get a job, but rather at the seriously ill and infirm.
Most people in Moapa Valley, when faced with folks in those conditions, have gladly reached into their pockets and contributed a few dollars to give them a hand. This initiative is really not much different; only the amount is a few pennies. The PROGRESS recommends a YES vote on Question 4.
Finally, Clark County voters will make a decision on one more initiative: Question 5. This measure would continue to generate money for local road construction by tying the county gas tax to an inflation-measuring index.
Now it is true that, over the years, Moapa Valley has oft been overlooked when it comes to our roads. Local road paving projects have been few and far between. But that can be blamed on an inefficient local government and ineffective representation in the past.
But all of that is about to change. The communities of the Moapa Valley are about to see a renaissance of road paving. Many local projects have already gone out to bid and, in several cases, bids have been awarded.
In the next few weeks, our gas tax allotment will finally be spent for the purpose that it was intended. This long delayed action is thanks in large part to the dogged advocacy of Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick and her staff who have fought to get the job done. But it wouldn’t be possible without the indexed gas tax.
These roads projects have been needed for a long time, and there are many other projects, just as important, which are waiting in line right behind them.
The PROGRESS recommends a YES vote on Question 5.