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A’s ballpark funding bill heads to Nevada governor

Updated June 15, 2023 - 12:27 pm

CARSON CITY — A bill to provide $380 million in public funding for a new baseball stadium for the Oakland Athletics is headed to Gov. Joe Lombardo’s desk after lawmakers voted to approve an amended version of the measure Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Bill 1 heads to the governor after lawmakers in the Assembly approved an amended version of the measure on a vote of 25-15, a change that the Senate unanimously accepted just minutes later.

The amendment restores the state treasurer to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority’s board of directors and directs funds to Clark County for development of supportive housing for low-income people and those experiencing homelessness. It also ups the A’s annual community benefit to $2 million from the previous $1.5 million.

A statement from the A’s organization late Wednesday praised members of the Legislature for their efforts.

“Tonight, we thank the members of the Nevada State Legislature and their staff for their hard work, due diligence, and attention to detail as we work to bring the Athletics to Las Vegas,” the statement read. “We are especially grateful for the legislators’ time and dedication to shepherding this bill through the process, including the special session. We look forward to Governor Lombardo’s signature as our next step.”

The Assembly vote was bipartisan: 10 Republicans and 15 Democrats voted to pass the measure, while four Republicans and 11 Democrats voted against it.

Strong views

The bill again drew strong remarks from members on the floor.

“While I have received a lot of emails in favor and in opposition of Senate Bill 1, I took into consideration the points being raised there and ultimately the required public investment in a stadium as required by Major League Baseball will yield an economic benefit to our state as we have seen with Allegiant Stadium,” said Assemblywoman Shea Backus, D-Las Vegas. “My support of SB1 in no way suggests that I do not support funding of K-12 education.”

But fellow Democratic lawmaker Assemblywoman Selena La Rue Hatch rose in sharp opposition to the bill.

“I appreciate the work and the consideration that has gone into this bill but no amount of amendments are going to change the fact that we are giving millions of public dollars to a billionaire,” she said. “I cannot justify voting for this bill and giving millions of dollars to a billionaire while our constituents are telling us they don’t want this and our constituents are asking us to invest in their communities.”

Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, D-Las Vegas, recounted a huge boost in funding for education that took place during the session, in which she chaired the Assembly’s Education Committee. “I want to see that continue,” she said. “Without new, out-of-the-box revenue streams, that isn’t going to happen.”

The state Senate approved an amended version of the bill on Tuesday by a bipartisan vote of 13-8, after a morning hearing. The Assembly heard an informational presentation on the bill while senators were debating and voting on the measure.

Lombardo called a special session for the A’s funding bill for June 7, following the regular 120-day session and a short special session called to deal with a capital projects budget. The A’s bill had a single hearing in the closing days of the regular session but did not get a vote in either house before the Legislature adjourned June 5.

Strong reactions

The bill was supported by a panoply of organized labor groups in testimony during both the regular and special session. Susie Martinez, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO, praised lawmakers following the vote.

“Las Vegas is not only home to the premier sports and entertainment industry, but to the heart of the labor movement,” Martinez said in a statement. “Today’s passage of Senate Bill 1 provides ample opportunities for our state to grow its economy and create thousands of good-paying, union jobs. This deal will pay dividends for years to come, as our trades, construction and service workers will heavily benefit from the stadium’s groundbreaking to well past its completion.”

But one progressive group slammed the Legislature, including majority Democrats, for their support of the A’s plan.

“It’s no surprise that the ‘Nevada Way’ triumphed once again, as even our Democratic politicians are deeply committed to the failed agenda of trickle-down economics,” said Laura Martin, executive director of PLAN Action. “The state’s tradition of putting business profits first, ahead of the needs of everyday Nevadans, has left tenants, teachers and all Nevadans unprotected, unsupported and underserved. Our elected officials could be establishing a rent-stabilization program, instead they are handing out millions to a universally disliked baseball team owner.”

Lombardo has 10 days from the day he receives the bill — not counting Sundays — to sign or veto it.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter. Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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