Oakland Athletics move to Las Vegas in flux as Nevada Legislature adjourns
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — High-profile proposals to help build a stadium for the Oakland Athletics and lure major film makers to Las Vegas through billions of dollars in tax credits are in flux after Nevada lawmakers adjourned their four-month legislative session early Tuesday.
Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo called a special legislative session Tuesday evening in the midst of disagreements between him and the Democratic-controlled Legislature over a major budget bill. The agenda did not include Oakland Athletics funding, but that could still technically be heard in another special legislative session.
Lawmakers failed to pass the budget bill that included over $1 billion to fund capital improvement projects that fund state public works and construction. The measure faltered in the Senate as they ran out of time for a second vote after party disagreements lasted Monday night until the midnight deadline.
Now, the prospects are murky for a bill that has revived the national debate over public funding for private sports stadiums. The measure could add professional baseball to Las Vegas’ growing sports scene, but economists have warned that such a project would bring minimal benefits for a hefty public price tag.
The bulk of the public funding for the $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium would have come from $380 million in public assistance, partly through $180 million in transferable tax credits, $120 million in county bonds that would help finance projects and a special tax district around the stadium. Backers have pledged that the district will generate enough money to pay off those bonds and interest.
Chris Blake 9:06 PM Backers have pledged the district will generate enough money to pay off those bonds and interest.
The A’s would not owe property taxes for the publicly owned stadium and Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, also would contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.
The major film tax credit bill would involve up to $190 million annually for at least 20 years to recruit major film studios to Las Vegas. Sony has announced it would commit to a $1 billion expansion in Las Vegas with a competitive deal.
Special sessions are fairly common in Nevada’s Legislature, which lasts for four months every other year. There have been seven since 2013 for a variety of reasons — pandemic protocols,statewide redistricting, budget disputes and approval for $750 million in public funding to help build Allegiant Stadium when the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas.
For four months, Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly fought the new Republican governor on policy issues ranging from taxes and budgets to schools and crime, a conflict that came to a climax as Monday turned to Tuesday without a deal.
The budget disagreements stemmed from pay raises for charter school teachers that Republicans wanted and a handful of capital funds that they wanted for charter schools.
“The Senate Republicans fully support Governor Lombardo and await his call for a special session to find common ground solutions for Nevadans,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert said.
Democratic Speaker Steve Yeager’s office canceled a scheduled press conference moments after midnight, when the Legislature failed to pass the fifth budget bill. In a statement, he said legislative Republicans “have once again put politics before policy” by not passing the capital improvements project.
The late-night conflicts came after lawmakers shuffled from room to room on Monday, hosting last-minute conference committees where they agreed on amendments to dozens of bills as the midnight deadline approached. Oftentimes committees would meet 10 minutes in advance and would last for as short as two minutes. The Legislature advanced dozens of bills to Lombardo’s desk, who now has 10 days to sign or veto them.
Also on Monday, a widely-supported program that would allow the state to buy back and retire groundwater rights in diminished basins died after not receiving a hearing in the Senate finance committee. It comes after the state overallocated water rights decades ago, in-part leading to a scramble for how to save groundwater water quickly. The program would have been one of the most expansive among Western states, and backers wanted at least $5 million to start the program.
Lombardo also became the first governor in the nation to veto a medical aid in dying bill, which would have allowed patients with a terminal illness, under particular circumstances, to self-administer life-ending medication. It would follow other states recently adopting such a measure, including Oregon, Washington and California. The bill has now gone through the Legislature five times without passing.
Another bill that died in the state Senate was baby bonds legislation that would have established trust funds for children born into Medicaid, and parental leave for state workers. That was a top priority for Democratic treasurer Zach Conine.
Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service that places journalists in newsrooms. Follow Stern on Twitter: @gabestern326.