Oakland Athletics move to Las Vegas in flux as Nevada Legislature adjourns
Jun 6, 2023, 2:03 AM
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A plan to help build a stadium for the Oakland Athletics in Las Vegas is in flux after Nevada lawmakers adjourned their four-month legislative session.
The future of the contentious bill is now uncertain after the Democratic-controlled Legislature did not advance it before the midnight deadline as Monday turned to Tuesday. The proposal could potentially be considered in a special legislative session at a date to be determined later, where lawmakers would later vote on it.
Lawmakers also failed to pass one of the five major budget bills that included over $1 billion to fund capital improvement projects that fund state public works and construction, which would also likely be considered for a special session. The measure faltered in the Senate as they ran out of time for a second vote after party disagreements lasted until the midnight deadline.
In a statement at 1 a.m., Republican Gov. Lombardo said he would call a special session later Tuesday morning, where he would set the agenda for legislative priorities.
Now, the timeline is murky for a bill that has revived the national debate over public funding for private sports stadiums — a measure that could add to Las Vegas’ growing sports scene amid concerns and skepticism among economists about minimal benefits for a hefty public price tag.
The bulk of the public funding for the $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium would come from $380 million in public assistance, partly through $180 million in transferable tax credits and $120 million in county bonds — taxpayer-backed loans, to help finance projects and a special tax district around the stadium. 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.
Also potentially under consideration in the special session is a major film tax credit bill that 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 a $1 billion expansion in Las Vegas with a competitive deal.
Senate Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert indicated a special session could come soon in a statement early Monday morning.
“The Senate Republicans fully support Governor Lombardo and await his call for a special session to find common ground solutions for Nevadans,” she said.
The disagreements over the capital improvement project to the exclusion of charter schools from a handful of capital funds and pay initiatives that also went to public schools.
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.
For four months, Democratic leaders in the State and Assembly fought the new Republican governor on policy issues ranging from taxes and budgets to schools and crime.
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 under certain circumstances. It would follow other states recently adopting this 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.