Assemblywoman Sharron Angle and members of the group "We the People Nevada" filed a petition Thursday to impose a California-style Proposition 13 on Nevada.
She said the proposed constitutional amendment would protect renters, homeowners and businesses from huge tax increases as it has protected those in California for nearly 30 years.
The proposal would limit property taxes to 1 percent of the base value of a property plus the amount needed to pay existing bond debts. Any additional debt would require a two-thirds vote. And it would set that base value at the taxable value in 2003-04.
Increases in base value of any property would be capped at a maximum 2 percent a year.
Cliff Nellis of "We the People Nevada" said they will rely primarily on volunteers to collect signatures but expect to have no problem getting signers since he said a recent poll shows 68 percent of Nevadans back the idea. That poll, however, was taken before the Nevada Legislature acted this year to cap property tax increases for homeowners at 3 percent.
Nellis also accused Secretary of State Dean Heller of blocking the "Axe the Tax" initiative last year and making the initiative process more difficult during this past Legislature.
The change he referred to is the requirement that the summary of an initiative can be challenged by those who think it is deceptive. That will require the Prop-13 group to wait 30 days from filing the petition before collecting signatures.
"Dean Heller has a clear record of blocking initiatives that would provide open government and tax relief for working families." He asked Heller not to try interfere with the Prop-13 initiative this year.
Heller was in Elko on a campaign tour and could not be reached for comment.
Angle, a Reno Republican, denied the petition drive has anything to do with her candidacy for Congress. She and Heller are both Republican candidates for the congressional seat being vacated by Jim Gibbons.
She has tried twice to get a Prop-13 style bill through the Legislature - without success. Even conservatives like Gibbons have expressed concern that such strict limits could cause local governments problems - especially rural governments.
Angle said those fears are groundless because the proposed amendment "is not a tax decrease" and would actually result in more money for governments in Nevada.
She said opponents blame everything that goes wrong in California on Proposition 13.
Nellis said the constitutional change is necessary because the limits imposed by the 2005 Legislature would be repealed if it fails.
"The 3 percent - that was just done because of the threat of this," he said.
In fact, lawmakers proposed caps because of numerous complaints from residents - particularly in Las Vegas - that their tax bills were increasing as much as 50 percent each year because of skyrocketing land values.
"When this initiative fails, the legislature which is controlled by liberals will revoke it," Nellis said referring to the legislative property tax cap.
In order to qualify for the 2006 ballot, the petition must be signed by at least 83,184 registered voters - 10 percent of the total turnout in the last general election. They have until June 20, 2006, to turn in their signatures.
- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.