CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a proclamation Sunday setting the agenda for a special legislative session that begins Monday to consider public financing for a football stadium and convention center upgrades in Las Vegas.
In his proclamation, Sandoval said the “new Nevada economy requires a careful balance of growing and attracting businesses that bring innovative and new technologies and diversify our tax base while at the same time supporting and expanding our foundation as the world leader in gaming, tourism, and entertainment.”
With the stroke of his pen, Sandoval also triggered a prohibition on legislators’ campaign fundraising that took effect when the proclamation was signed. Under law, they are barred from soliciting or receiving contributions until 15 days after the session ends, a time frame that will not expire until after early voting for the November election begins Oct. 22.
The special session begins at 8 a.m. Monday. It will recess, if necessary, before sundown Tuesday in recognition of Yom Kippur and resume Thursday if required.
The biggest proposal to be considered by lawmakers is an increase in Clark County room taxes to help fund a $1.9 billion domed football stadium and $1.4 billion expansion and upgrades to the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The proposed 65,000-seat dome facility planned as the new home of the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders would also serve as home turf for UNLV’s football team. Raiders owner Mark Davis has pledged to bring the team to Sin City if the stadium is built and other league owners agree.
An NFL owners meeting is scheduled Oct. 18, according to a fact sheet distributed over the weekend by stadium proponents.
The room tax increase would finance $750 million in general obligation bonds over 33 years. Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson has pledged $650 million toward the deal. The Raiders have committed $500 million.
As proposed, the existing 12 percent room tax rate would be increased 0.88 percentage points for the stadium and 0.5 percentage points for convention center improvements.
A separate measure authorizing the Clark County Commission to raise the sales tax rate to hire more police officers requires only a majority vote.
Legislative staff worked through the weekend preparing for the session. Under the state constitution, special sessions are limited to no longer than 20 days, though most last only a few days.
The Legislative Counsel Bureau’s website had a link for lobbyists to register for the special session, but as of Sunday afternoon there was no online posting about who or how many had registered.
But lobbying will be intense.
Across the street from the Legislature building, a huge banner was erected Sunday sponsored by Laborers Union Local 872. “Nevada jobs build the stadium and the Raiders will come,” the banner reads, with a large Raiders logo in one corner and a depiction of the stadium in the other.
The union says the projects will create thousands of construction jobs in Southern Nevada, a region hit hard by the Great Recession. Backers project that the stadium and convention center developments will create 14,000 new permanent jobs and thousands of construction jobs.
But in the days before the session, some lawmakers expressed concerns about the size and appropriateness of the public subsidy. Those reservations were complicated last week when Sandoval’s administration, in talks with legislative leaders, revealed that Nevada faces a potential $400 million budget shortfall in the upcoming two-year budget cycle.
The Nevada Taxpayers Association and Nevadans for the Common Good have publicly opposed the stadium project.
Stadium proponents argue the project would generate $1.43 billion in annual economic activity from more than 1 million new visitors and 1.8 million room nights, but critics counter that those projections are flawed.
Sandoval and other supporters say the stadium will take Las Vegas to new heights as a global tourism and convention destination and provide the city with a venue to host megaevents, an amenity it now lacks.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.