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Nevada legislators flock to special session for Faraday

CARSON CITY — Nevada lawmakers convened in special session late Wednesday and took care of procedural business before recessing for the night, all in preparation to consider tax breaks for electric car start-up Faraday Future.

The Nevada Senate was gaveled to order around 5:30 p.m.; the Assembly convened about an hour later. But the process stalled as lawmakers awaited completion of bill drafting.

Assembly Bill 1 dealing with workforce development programs was introduced in the Assembly, which recessed around 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Senate Bill 1, addressing tax abatements, tax credits, improvement districts and infrastructure at the Apex industrial park, was introduced shortly before 10 p.m., when the Senate adjourned for the night.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said the upper chamber would convene 10 a.m. Thursday as a committee to begin hearing testimony.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, in a proclamation issued late Tuesday, said the session would focus on tax abatements and transferable tax credits for businesses that locate in Nevada and invest at least $1 billion. Additionally, the proposed legislation would require those businesses to pay back any tax breaks if certain requirements are not met.

Another provision would authorize counties, cities and special districts to provide incentives and waive licensing and permit fees, which must be repaid if a business doesn’t meet its obligations.

Two other matters deal with bonding authority and construction and expansion of infrastructure such as water, rail and natural gas.

Faraday said it will build a $1 billion manufacturing plant at Apex, a North Las Vegas industrial park that has been vacant for years and lacks critical infrastructure such as water system and utilities.

A report prepared by Applied Economics for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development said the project could have an $87.5 billion annual economic impact in Clark County over the next 20 years.

Faraday has said it will employ about 4,500 people, a workforce that economic development officials said would create another 9,100 indirect jobs and generate a combined estimated annual payroll of nearly $700 million.

The deal lawmakers will consider is similar, though not as extensive, to one they passed in September 2014, giving Tesla $1.3 billion in incentives and abatements to build a $5 billion battery factory in Northern Nevada east of Reno. The Faraday agreement is valued at around $330 million and includes $217 million in abatements and tax credits over 15 years.

The Faraday deal, however, could meet some resistance. Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank based in Las Vegas, is critical of approving tax breaks when legislators this year passed a record $1.5 billion package of new and expanded taxes to fund Sandoval’s general fund budget and education agenda.

Earlier in the day, the Buildings and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada distributed fliers telling Sandoval to “fix Tesla first” before granting tax breaks to another electric car makers. The flier criticized slow reports about Tesla from Storey County and the strain on area schools and infrastructure.

The liberal Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada also has concerns and urged lawmakers to be cautious.

“For a non-Nevadan company whose product remains unseen and performance and skills unproven, it is only just and responsible that they adhere to protections to put our people and planet first,” the alliance said in a letter to legislators.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901. Find her on Twitter: @SandraChereb. Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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