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Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents quarterly meeting at UNLV on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

A new political action committee is looking to push for the passage of AJR5, a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the Board of Regents from the Constitution and place them under the purview of the legislature. 

The move signals the first effort by outside forces looking to tip the balance in the final stretch of a five-year-long effort to pass AJR5. 

The PAC, called Nevadans for Higher Quality Education, was formed on Feb. 4, and has yet to file any financial information. The group's president, lobbyist and former labor leader Gail Tuzzolo, did not immediately return several requests for comment. 

First proposed in 2017, AJR 5 would seek to increase legislative oversight and control of the state’s higher education system by removing the Board of Regents from the Constitution outright. 

Legislators have long complained of efforts by the regents and the higher education system to evade legislative oversight, often in part through the invocation of their place in Nevada’s Constitution. 

During her introduction of the bill in 2019, Democratic Sen. Joyce Woodhouse told lawmakers that the bill came as a direct result of multiple attempts by NSHE to “control, alter or misrepresent” information presented to lawmakers. 

But regents and system Chancellor Thom Reilly have vocally opposed the move, charging that it does little change the administration of the state’s higher education institutions and will act as the first step in allowing the governor to appoint regents, rather than allow them to be elected.  

Opponents have also complained that the legal precedent for AJR 5 rests on two decades-old court cases — one from 1948 and another from 1981 — rather than any more recent incidents between NSHE and the Legislature. 

As a constitutional amendment, AJR 5 must pass through a number of legal hurdles before becoming law, including passing two consecutive legislative sessions and being given the OK by voters in a general election. 

Having sailed through passage in both the 2017 and 2019 sessions, all that remains before the measure would take effect is the final approval of Nevada voters on Nov. 3.

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