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Capital projects budget approved during special session

CARSON CITY — Lawmakers voted to send a budget funding capital improvement projects to Gov. Joe Lombardo’s desk late Tuesday night.

Assembly Bill 1 was introduced, heard and passed during a special session of the Legislature just hours after Lombardo signed a proclamation calling lawmakers back to pass the measure.

The bill, which would allocate nearly $2 billion for capital projects and would renew a property tax, mirrors Assembly Bill 521, which died Monday night after failing to pass with two-thirds supermajority before a midnight deadline, with all the Senate Republicans voting against the bill.

The measure passed the Assembly on a vote of 28-11, with Republican Assembly members P.K. O’Neill, R-Carson City, Danielle Gallant, R-Las Vegas and Rich DeLong, R-Reno, voting with majority Democrats to approve the bill.

In the Senate, the measure passed 14-7, with Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, joining Democrats in support. All of the chamber’s other Republicans voted no.

“It’s a hard vote to take,” Hammond said in an interview after the vote. “This is something that had to happen.”

Republicans opposed the bill again Tuesday night, calling for an amendment that would have given $32 million to charter school teachers.

“I absolutely support all the things in this bill,” Sen. Ira Hansen said. “We have left a critical component out. The reason why we’re in a special session is it’s important enough to us to have that $32 million bucks.”

Senate Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert, R-Reno, said she voted against Monday’s bill “in protest.”

“I felt funding for public charters in this budget was inadequate, and as a consequence, voted no in protest. That action sent us into special session, but I have no regrets,” Seevers Gansert said. “We brought greater attention to the inequities in funding for public charter schools.”

But Hammond said he didn’t think holding out for charter school money would have produced different results.

“Look, I’ve been here many, many years, and sometimes, you know, it’s worth holding out for, there’s something there, and other times, it’s just not there,” he said.

On the floor, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, urged her colleagues across the aisle to support the measure, emphasizing that it will fund veteran homes, a forensic lab in Southern Nevada and several other projects.

“If we’re going to play politics here, fine,” Cannizzaro said. “But I would urge your support because there’s good policy in here that will help and support Nevadans, period.”

The special session, the 34th in state history, lasted less than two hours.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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