LEAN Endorses Nevada State Ballot Questions 1 and 2

Nevada’s early and mail-in voting runs Oct. 22-Nov. 4 in advance of the Nov. 8 general election, and LEAN is prepared to endorse two of the three State Questions that, if passed, would alter current Nevada State Constitution language.

After careful consideration, and guided by the ELCA Social Messages and Statements, LEAN advocate Bill Ledford and the LEAN policy board strongly endorse Question 1­, which would expand language guaranteeing equal rights to all. We also endorse, with certain understandings and acknowledgements, Question 2, which simplifies language that makes $12 per hour the minimum wage in Nevada beginning in 2024.

In keeping with Nevada Constitution-enshrined process, should Questions 1 and 2 pass, they would become law. Question 3, an initiative petition that promises changing the state’s primary voting process, would return to the ballot in 2024 should it pass legislative muster as a bill during the 2023 session. LEAN remains neutral on Question 3 since it deals directly with how candidates would be elected.

Here is the condensed language Question 1 as presented on the official ballot:

Senate Joint Resolution No. of the 80th Session: 

Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended by adding a specific guarantee that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this State or any of its cities, counties, or other political subdivisions on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry, or national origin?

This question earns LEAN’s strong endorsement for a “YES” vote. Its language reflects scriptural tenets of justice, fairness, mercy, social equality, and equal protection under the law – the very beliefs Jesus lived by, through word and action, as written in the gospels and acted upon throughout the New Testament, most powerfully in texts such as Matthew 25, which remains LEAN’s guiding scripture. And it fits into the parameters put forth in the ELCA’s Social Message on Human Rights.

Here is the condensed language Question 2 as presented on the official ballot:

Assembly Joint Resolution No. 10 of the 80th Session:

Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended, effective July 1, 2024, to: (1) establish the State’s minimum wage that employers must pay to certain employees at a rate of $12 per hour worked, subject to any applicable increases above that $12 rate provided by federal law or enacted by the Nevada Legislature; (2) remove the existing provisions setting different rates for the minimum wage based on whether the employer offers certain health benefits to such employees; and (3) remove the existing provisions for adjusting the minimum wage based on applicable increases in the cost of living?

This question deals with a constitutional change that LEAN has advocated for in the past: Increasing Nevada’s minimum wage to a livable, viable level. Though we believe that $12 per hour is still inadequate given ongoing cost of living challenges for Nevada workers and families, and indeed represents a legislative compromise in the two most recent sessions, it is far better than the $10.50 per hour currently enshrined in the Nevada State Constitution ($9.50 for those whose employer offers health insurance benefits). And though the minimum wage is already slated to increase to $12 in 2024, this Question’s passage would remove the language maintaining Nevada’s current tiered structure, which allows employers to pay a dollar less per hour if they also offer health insurance. We believe that simplifying the language to put all employees at the $12 level — with the ability for the legislature to raise the wage in the future, either on their own or in keeping with federal guidelines — is ultimately beneficial to workers and their families.

However, LEAN endorses a yes vote on Question 2 with the understanding that it is, by its nature and in keeping with state law, a more “permanent” change since it is indeed enshrined at the Constitutional level. We also understand that the law would be altered, as expressed in part 3 of Question 2, to remove language allowing for automatic cost of living increases. In the final analysis, we see this a plus for workers and families, since it would take nearly a decade for cost-of-living adjustments currently provided by the Nevada Constitution to exceeed the $12 per hour minimum. With that language removed, the mimimum wage could be raised sooner and more effectively.

Again, early voting runs Oct. 22-Nov. 4. Completed ballots can also be mailed up to and including election day, as long as the are postmarked by Nov. 8 and arrive at the country registar of voter’s office within four days of election day. They can also be dropped off at any early voting location or at your county’s main office.

If you are a first-time Nevada voter or need to update your voter registration, visit www.RegisterToVote.NV.gov.