Constitution of Nevada

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Page 1 of the first Nevada State Constitution, as transmitted to Congress by telegraph, October 1864.

The Constitution of the State of Nevada is the organic law of the state of Nevada, and the basis for Nevada's statehood as one of the United States.

History[edit]

The Nevada Constitution was created in 1864 at a convention on July 4 in Carson City. The convention adjourned on July 28, was approved by public vote on the first Wednesday in September, and became effective on October 31, when on that date President Abraham Lincoln declared Nevada to be a state.

Signature page for the telegraph transmission of the first Nevada State Constitution, October 1864. The handwritten annotation shows the word count (16,543) and cost ($4303.27).

Nevada's entry into full statehood in the United States was expedited. Union sympathizers were so eager to gain statehood for Nevada that they rushed to send the entire state constitution by telegraph to the United States Congress before the presidential election and they did not believe that sending it by train would guarantee that it would arrive on time. The constitution was sent October 26–27, 1864,[1] just two weeks before the election on November 7, 1864. The transmission took two days; it consisted of 16,543 words and cost $4,303.27 ($62,295.77 adjusted for 2012) to send.[1][2] It was, at the time, the longest telegraph transmission ever made, a record it held for seventeen years, until a copy of the 118,000-word English Standard Version of the New Testament was sent by telegraph on May 22, 1881.[3]

General provisions[edit]

The document has two prefix provisions; a preamble; 19 articles (one having been repealed); and a suffix provision. The first prefix provision defines the requirement that the state have a constitutional convention. The second prefix provision declares certain mandates applicable to the state, including a prohibition on slavery, religious freedom, and declaring the public lands to be property of the United States. Later amendments changed this provision. The preamble reads: "We the people of the State of Nevada Grateful to Almighty God for our freedom in order to secure its blessings, insure domestic tranquility, and form a more perfect Government, do establish this Constitution."

The articles of the Nevada Constitution are:

  1. Declaration of Rights
  2. Right of Suffrage
  3. Distribution of Powers
  4. Legislative Department
  5. Executive Department
  6. Judicial Department
  7. Impeachment and Removal From Office
  8. Municipal and Other Corporations
  9. Finance and State Debt
  10. Taxation
  11. Education
  12. Militia
  13. Public Institutions
  14. Boundary
  15. Miscellaneous Provisions
  16. Amendments
  17. Schedule
  18. [Right of Suffrage] Repealed in 1992
  19. Initiative and Referendum

The suffix provision provides for the election of delegates to the constitutional convention.

Unappropriated public lands[edit]

Ownership of the public domain by the United States has become controversial in recent years, the Sagebrush Rebellion and the Bundy standoff are examples of certain groups within the State desire to locally manage the public lands within their borders.

The clause disclaiming any right to unappropriated lands originally stated:

Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States; and that lands belonging to citizens of the United States, residing without the said state, shall never be taxed higher than the land belonging to the residents thereof; and that no taxes shall be imposed by said state on lands or property therein belonging to, or which may hereafter be purchased by, the United States, unless otherwise provided by the congress of the United States.

After an amendment ratified in the general election of 1996, the clause reads:

Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that lands belonging to citizens of the United States, residing without the said state, shall never be taxed higher than the land belonging to the residents thereof; and that no taxes shall be imposed by said state on lands or property therein belonging to, or which may hereafter be purchased by, the United States, unless otherwise provided by the Congress of the United States. [4]

The amendment is specified to take effect "on the date Congress consents to amendment or a legal determination is made that such consent is not necessary".[needs update][4]

Miscellaneous (Not All) provisions[edit]

  • Article 1, Section 21, added by voters in 2002, provides "Only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state" (see also recognition of same-sex unions in Nevada).
  • Article 1, section 22, approved by the voters in 2008, limits the power of the state to use eminent domain, which may be in response to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London.
  • Article 2, Section 10, requires the legislature to set a limit on initiative, referendum, primary or general election contributions to $5,000 each, and to provide for felony penalties for contributions above this limit.
  • Article 4, Section 38, permits the use of medical marijuana.
  • Article 5, Section 3, limits the Governor to two terms, or one if (s)he has served more than two years of someone else's term.
  • Article 15, Section 16, sets a minimum wage of $5.15 per hour if the employer provides health insurance, or $6.15 if not.

Amendment procedure[edit]

Section 1 of article 19 explains how the Assembly or Senate may propose amendments to the constitution. A majority of all members of both houses must pass the proposed amendment. The proposed amendment must then pass the next consecutive biennial session. If it passes, the proposed amendment is sent to the people for vote. If the majority of the registered votes pass the amendment, the constitution is amended/changed. Sections 2 and 3 of article 19 defines how citizen initiatives for constitutional amendments can be approved. In short, ballot initiatives must be approved in two general elections.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "National Archives Celebrates the 145th Anniversary of Nevada Statehood". National Archives of the United States. September 23, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ The National Archives press release states that the cost was $4,313.27, but the amount $4,303.27 is actually written on the document.
  3. ^ Kintop, Jeffrey M. (January 13, 2009). "The making of the Nevada State Constitution". Nevada State Library and Archives. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF NEVADA". ORDINANCE. The State of Nevada. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 

External links[edit]