To Attorney General-elect Laxalt: About that Disclaimer Clause in the state Constitution

Attorney General-elect Adam Laxalt talks about his priorities (R-J photo)

 

In one ear and out the other.

Well, I can’t really blame him, with all the people who were shaking his hand and whispering in his ear.

I bumped into Adam Laxalt on the campaign trail a couple of times and listened to his spiel. He would often mention the problem Nevada has with the federal government controlling 85 percent of the land in the state — land that could be put to economic benefit. And, as he did with a Las Vegas newspaper reporter, he would note that federal ownership is established in Nevada’s Constitutioin.

What he is referring to is the Disclaimer Clause, which was put in the constitutions of a number of states to establish free and clear title to unappropriated land.

That clause says the state does “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.”

Not only is the intent of that clause in question — Otherwise why does it also say, “That five percentum of the proceeds of the sales of all public lands lying within said state, which shall be sold by the United States subsequent to the admission of said state into the Union …” — but the voters of Nevada amended the Constitution in 1996 and removed the Disclaimer Clause entirely.

I told Laxalt that when I got a chance to bend his ear. He said he was unaware of that — most everybody is — but would look into it. Apparently he has forgotten.

The Constitution for the past 18 years has contained a footnote:

[Amended in 1956 and 1996. The first amendment was proposed and passed by the 1953 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1955 legislature; approved and ratified by the people at the 1956 general election. See: Statutes of Nevada 1953, p. 718; Statutes of Nevada 1955, p. 926. The second amendment was proposed and passed by the 1993 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1995 legislature; and approved and ratified by the people at the 1996 general election, effective on the date Congress consents to amendment or a legal determination is made that such consent is not necessary. See: Statutes of Nevada 1993, p. 3136; Statutes of Nevada 1995, p. 2917.]

This was the amendment:

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 …

There has been no consent by Congress nor legal determination made. I can find no evidence any member of the Nevada congressional delegation or any state attorney general has ever pressed the matter. And you thought elections had consequences and a right to redress grievances.

How soon they forget.

 

 

 

 

 

5 comments on “To Attorney General-elect Laxalt: About that Disclaimer Clause in the state Constitution

  1. Steve says:

    You would have had a better hearing from Miller. HE at least, made steps to answer conservative concerns about voter ID questions.

  2. […] fact, the Nevada statehood document includes language saying the state would get “five percentum of the proceeds of the sales of all […]

  3. […] fact, the Nevada statehood document includes language saying the state would get “five percentum of the proceeds of the sales of all […]

  4. […] 1864 Nevada statehood document promises the state would get 5 percent of proceeds when “public lands lying within said state, […]

  5. […] fact, though the suit doesn’t mention it, that so-called Disclaimer Clause was repealed by the voters in 1996, “effective on the date Congress consents to amendment or a legal […]

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