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Grassroots Win Shootout In The West

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  • victoryusa@jail4judges.org
    Grassroots Win Shootout In The West June 30, 2004 by Phyllis Schlafly Nevada just witnessed the political equivalent of Shootout at the OK Corral. On one side
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2004
      Grassroots Win Shootout In The West
      June 30, 2004 by Phyllis Schlafly

      Nevada just witnessed the political equivalent of Shootout at the OK
      Corral. On one side was the full power of the Nevada government, and
      on the other side was a grandmother armed with a pen, a petition and
      a clipboard.

      Janine Hansen is one of the leaders of a grassroots effort to require
      public officials to obey the Nevada state constitution. Their petition
      drive has struck fear in Nevada public officials seeking higher taxes.

      Imagine that - forcing public officials to obey the constitution! In
      1996, Nevada voters amended their constitution to require a
      two-thirds vote of the legislature before a tax increase could become

      The legislators and the governor tried to ignore this requirement, and
      the governor secretly obtained prior assurances from the Nevada
      supreme court that it would give judicial blessing to the deal to
      bypass the constitution.

      Janine Hansen began gathering signatures on petitions to put the tax
      issue on the ballot so voters could have the last word. She took her
      effort to a large public bus station in downtown Reno known as the

      Built with taxpayers' money, CitiCenter is open to all except,
      apparently, those collecting signatures to hold government
      accountable to voters. Despite a 2001 law mandating that the facility
      allow petition drives for properly registered initiatives, the agency in
      charge had other plans.

      "High noon" occurred during rush hour on Thursday, May 6th. Janine
      Hansen and her son were collecting signatures for a referendum to
      overturn the tax increase, and CitiCenter managers set out to stop

      Less than two weeks earlier, officials had stopped the collection of
      signatures for this referendum at a Department of Motor Vehicles
      office in Reno while allowing petition gathering for a public school
      initiative. The governor's office later admitted it was improper to
      interfere with the tax referendum effort there.

      But the Regional Transportation Commission, which runs CitiCenter,
      was determined to stop Mrs. Hansen at the bus station. Officers
      approached her and demanded that she cease and desist.

      "They told us to stop gathering signatures," Mrs. Hansen said. "I told
      them their policy was a violation of state law."

      Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller had issued a letter explaining
      that petition signatures may be collected without notice at public
      facilities in accordance with state law. Mrs. Hansen explained, "We
      said we could, and weren't going to stop, so they arrested us. We
      weren't going to follow some illegal edict by a petty bureaucrat."

      Photographers snapped pictures of an armed policeman handcuffing
      Mrs. Hansen's wrists behind her back. After all, if her hands were
      free, she might have been able to gather more names on her petition.

      Next came the ride to the local jail, where Mrs. Hansen and her son
      were incarcerated with unsavory types in a community cell until one
      o'clock a.m. Mrs. Hansen was sustained during this demoralizing
      experience by knowing she was in the right.

      The transportation center remained unapologetic, demanding the
      power to arrest all those who gather signatures unless they fill out a
      detailed government form, specify future dates for the petition activity,
      and obtain prior approval from a bureaucrat.

      The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked, "Why are these people being
      harassed, and even jailed? ... You remember the Constitution, don't
      you, officers? It's that faded old document that charges you with
      protecting our liberties -- the reason citizens fund your paychecks."

      The battleground then shifted to the courthouse. Finally on a level
      playing field, the grandmother routed her more powerful opponents.

      After hearing exhaustive testimony and working late into the night,
      state district judge Kenneth C. Cory handed Mrs. Hansen total
      victory. He enjoined the transportation center, the director of Motor
      Vehicles and other public entities from "intimidating or preventing"
      Mrs. Hansen and her associates "from the full enjoyment of their
      constitutional rights to free speech and to obtain signatures of
      individuals on initiative and referendum petitions."

      Judge Cory also extended the deadline for collecting signatures to
      qualify for the ballot. It now appears likely that the voters will be able
      to repudiate the massive tax increase that was rammed through the

      A second referendum supported by Mrs. Hansen may also be put to
      the voters. Recognizing the problem of legislators who are also
      employed by state or local government, she seeks an independent
      legislature free from government bias.

      When government employees also serve in the legislature or other
      elective office, that provides a powerful incentive to continue the cycle
      of tax-and-spend. Thanks to the valiant efforts of Janine Hansen, it
      looks like Nevadans will have the opportunity both to roll back a tax
      increase and to improve their system of government.

      Eagle Forum
      PO Box 618
      Alton, IL 62002

      Phone: 618-462-5415
      Fax: 618-462-8909
      E-mail: eagle@...
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