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Voters Back Tougher Smoking Restrictions

November 07, 2002|From Associated Press

RENO — Voters in Nevada's two most populous counties told lawmakers in the state with the largest percentage of smokers in the nation that they don't want kids and cigarettes in the same building.

Clark and Washoe counties approved virtually identical advisory measures Tuesday to toughen local restrictions on smokers beyond state law and ban smoking entirely in places children are likely to be.

Both issues will be submitted to the next Legislature.

Erin Dixon, tobacco control program coordinator for Washoe County, said the first measure is a matter of local control over smoking.

The second would ban all smoking in schools, grocery stores, restaurants and government buildings, which often have designated smoking areas.

The measures won similar support in both counties -- about 3 to 2 for the tougher restrictions and 2 to 1 for the broader ban on smoking.

One-third of adult Nevadans smoke, compared with 20% nationally.

Clark County voters also turned back any tax increases to fund services to the homeless, while Washoe County rejected fluoridating its water and continuing with the Reno train trench project, all by margins of about 3 to 2.

Southern Nevada voters told the Legislature they're unhappy with Nevada Power Co. after its request for nearly $1 billion in rate hikes and are looking for a public takeover.

An advisory measure passed 57% to 43% despite the almost $1.6 million Nevada Power spent fighting it. State Consumer Advocate Tim Hay said customers are disappointed with Nevada Power and want a change. About half of the rate hike request was rejected by state regulators.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has offered $3.2 billion to buy the Las Vegas-based electric utility from its stockholder-owned parent, Sierra Pacific Resources of Reno. The utility's executives say Nevada Power's not for sale.

On the eastern Nevada line, voters in both Wendovers favor consolidation. Now it's up to the two city governments, the states of Nevada and Utah, Congress and ultimately the president.

Voters in casino-rich West Wendover, Nev., approved the merger of the two cities, 248 to 191. And on the depressed Utah side, Wendover voters approved the merger, 110 to 61.

It's an advisory measure, so none of the governments is bound by the voting.

The unification would require moving the state line to include the Utah Wendover in Nevada, a move that would require congressional approval. Republican Reps. Jim Gibbons of Nevada and James V. Hansen of Utah co-sponsored the annexation bill in the House.

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