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State ballot questions on guns, marijuana drawing most interest of four questions

Voters in Nye County and throughout the state will get to weigh in on four statewide ballot questions, including two of the most controversial measures in recent memory.

STATE QUESTION NO. 1

Federal Background Checks for Selling or Transferring Firearms

Amendment to Title 15 of the Nevada Revised Statutes

“Shall Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to prohibit, except in certain circumstances, a person from selling or transferring a firearm to another person unless a federally-licensed dealer first conducts a federal background check on the potential buyer or transferee?”

Question 1, which would require background checks for most private gun sales, has resulted in heated campaigns.

Those in favor of the initiative want to close a perceived loophole that enables convicted felons, domestic abusers, and people with severe mental illness to buy guns without a criminal background check. They are able to buy guns with no background check by purchasing a gun from an unlicensed seller, including buying from a stranger they meet online or at a gun show.

Those that oppose background checks state that Question 1 goes further than the restriction lobbyist are promoting. The law would require Nevadans to appear jointly at a federal firearms dealer who may charge a fee anytime they relinquish possession of a firearm and to have it returned. Failure to do so will constitute a serious crime, with legal penalties possible. The opposition claims that Question 1 is too complex, unenforceable, and burdensome and it would effect law abiding citizens more than impacting criminals.

STATE QUESTION NO. 2

Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana

Amendment to the Nevada Revised Statutes

“Shall the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to allow a person, 21 years old or older, to purchase, cultivate, possess, or consume a certain amount of marijuana or concentrated marijuana, as well as manufacture, possess, use, transport, purchase, distribute, or sell marijuana paraphernalia; impose a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale sales of marijuana; require the regulation and licensing of marijuana cultivators, testing facilities, distributors, suppliers, and retailers; and provide for certain criminal penalties?”

Question 2, which would legalize the use of recreational marijuana by adults age 21 and over, similarly is provoking an intense battle on both sides of the issue.

Supporters of Question 2 point out the benefits the increased flow of money the law would create. With a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana, it will generate an estimated $20 million annually, according to proponents. They claim the money would cover the cost of enforcing regulations and will also support K-12 education in the state. In addition supporters point out that taxes that legal marijuana sales will generate would create an extra $30 million annually in state and local sales tax revenue.

Those against Question 2 explained that allowing legal recreational marijuana would send the wrong message to the state’s youth. Opponents say legalizing marijuana will create the assumption that drug use is acceptable to the youth throughout Nevada.

STATE QUESTION NO. 3

The Energy Choice Initiative

Amendment to the Nevada Constitution

“Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity?”

Question 3 would open energy markets to competition, and Question 4 would exempt medical equipment purchases from the sales tax, but both these measures will have to win and be approved a second time in 2018 before they could take effect.

The biggest argument for proponents of Question 3 is the possibility of driving down power costs. Supporters believe that competition in the electricity market will drive prices down and provide more resource options for residents and businesses.

Opponents of Question 3 say that just the opposite of what the supporters believe will happen will take place.

They point out that in the last three decades, proponents of deregulation across the country have promised that “energy choice” would mean lower costs, but the results have been ever higher prices for energy, due to private companies outside the control of state agencies hiking prices.

STATE QUESTION NO. 4

Medical Patient Tax Relief Act

Amendment to the Nevada Constitution

“Shall Article 10 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the exemption of durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for use by a licensed health care provider from any tax upon the sale, storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property?”

Question 4’s supporters claim that it would aid sick, injured, and dying patients and their families, by stopping the Department of Taxation from imposing unnecessary sales taxes on medical equipment prescribed by physicians. It will bring Nevada in line with the vast majority of states which do not tax this type of equipment for home use.

The opposition to Question 4 say if expenses exceed revenues, debt will be created. When the law requires state or local government agencies such as schools to be funded, the law expects a set amount of revenue to fund that agency. When a tax exemption reduces the amount of revenue expected, the agency has no choice but to request a replacement of the lost funding. To do that the agency must depend on the governor and the Legislature to include the lost funding in the budget.

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