Governor Sandoval stops senate bill to put question on 2017 ballot


Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval put an end to a senate bill that would have put an “advisory question” on the City of Ely’s 2017 general election ballot asking city residents if they would like to “combine” the city and county governments. Sandoval vetoed the bill on June 10, effectively killing the proposal after it had successfully made its way through both the state senate and assembly.

Sandoval explained his reasoning for vetoing Senate Bill 238 (SB238) in a letter to Barbara Cegavske, Nevada’s Secretary of State.

“Senate Bill 238 forces the residents of the City of Ely to consider an advisory question regarding whether or not to combine the governments of the City of Ely and White Pine County. Nevada law already sets forth a process for the residents of the City of Ely to place an advisory question about their future on the ballot during a general city election, if they choose to do so,” Sandoval states in his letter, which is available to read on the governor’s website under “press releases.”

The governor goes on to state that he feels SB238 “circumvents” the process already put in place by Nevada Revised Statue (NRS) 265.110, which states that “county commissioners may disincorporate [a] city upon petition of majority of resident voters.”

“Therefore, I veto this bill and return it without my signature or approval,” Sandoval concludes.

The governor’s reasoning should sound familiar to anyone that watched City Attorney Chuck Odgers when he laid out his problems with the bill during a visit to Carson City at the beginning of May. Odgers, who argued that SB 238 was way to go around the existing NRS in place for a voter petition to disincorporate a city, said that he was pleased that Sandoval came to the same conclusion with his veto.

“I’m glad that Governor Sandoval took a neutral and objective standpoint when it comes to the NRS already in place,” Odgers said.

City of Ely Mayor Melody Van Camp called the governor’s veto a “burden lifted off and other city employees’ shoulders.”

“This is a relief, Van Camp said. “We really fought that bill hard were we ended up making several trips to the capitol city. But we had a good presentation and I am glad we prevailed.”

The bill isn’t completely dead, as the State Senate could overturn the Governor’s veto with a two-thirds vote, though that is a rare occurrence. The governor’s veto of SB 238 was one of only seven veto’s he issued during this legislative session, a career-low for Sandoval according to the Associated Press.

The idea to disincorporate the City of Ely won’t go away yet, however. According to Odgers, the county commission could still vote to place an “advisory question” of their own onto the next general election ballot asking city or county voters if they would like to disincorporate the City of Ely. The commission did this once before in 2010, with a ballot question that asked voters if they were in favor of “consolidating” the county and city governments. The vote narrowly passed, though nothing came from the results until State Senator Pete Goicoechea sponsored SB 238 in January of this year.

Registered voters that are in favor of having a question being put on the ballot can still petition the city’s residents. Per the NRS, the petitioners would need to acquire signatures from 25 percent of the registered voters in the city. A similar petition was filed earlier in the year to try and remove members of the then city council, though it failed due to falling short of the required number of signatures.

Courtesy photo Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, pictured here during his inauguration speech in January, vetoed Senate Bill 238 on June 10.

Courtesy photo
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, pictured here during his inauguration speech in January, vetoed Senate Bill 238 on June 10.