Nevada Supreme Court To Review School Choice Program, Rooftop Solar Referendum

Jul 28, 2016

Credit Alexa Ard

The Nevada Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments on Friday over the state's controversial school choice program.

Nevada's Education Savings Accounts have been under scrutiny since legislators approved the program last year.

But that hasn't stopped more than 6,000 parents from signing up already. The ESAs allow parents to tap into the state's per-pupil funding, roughly $5,000, to help pay for private or home schooling.

Tomorrow, proponents will argue that the program benefits children at underperforming schools whose parents cannot afford better education options.

On the other side, opponents charge that the program diverts taxpayer dollars badly needed for public education, and violates the state constitution by funding non-secular institutions, such as private religious schools.

In January, a Carson City judge granted an injunction just weeks before the state treasurer was to begin disbursements. But a few months later, in a separate lawsuit, a Las Vegas judge upheld the program as permissible under the state constitution.

Both suits are now on appeal before the high court, where attorneys will present their cases.

Net Metering

The state Supreme Court will also rule on a proposed ballot measure that could bolster the rooftop solar industry.

Advocates must convince the justices that a referendum to restore net metering to a lower rate structure should qualify for the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on that question tomorrow afternoon -- after the Education Savings Account hearing -- and will likely make a ruling.

NV Energy announced it will support a return to older rates for existing customers for the next 20 years. The company filed a request with the Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday to "grandfather" customers who installed a system before Dec. 31, 2015.