Monday, May 23, 2011 | 1:20 p.m.
CARSON CITY – Without debate, the Assembly passed a bill to head off an effort by Caesars Entertainment to build a $500 million sports and entertainment arena on the Las Vegas Strip.
Senate Bill 495 is supported by other companies that operate on the Strip to block creation of a special district that would impose a 0.9 percent sales tax to finance construction of the proposed 27,000-seat arena.
Caesars gathered more than 221,000 signatures on an initiative petition to let voters decide whether they would support the project and tax plan. The Legislature rejected the petition, so now it goes before voters in the 2012 election.
The bill, passed Monday 39-3, would place a competing measure on the ballot that would prohibit the creation of special districts where the sales and use tax is higher than the rest of the county. The one that gets the highest number of votes in 2012 would win.
Voting against SB 495 were Las Vegas Democrats Paul Aizley, Steven Brooks and Peggy Pierce. Melissa Woodbury, R-Las Vegas, abstained because her father is involved in the arena proposal.
Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs, supported by MGM Resorts International, has appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court a ruling by Carson City District Judge Todd Russell that Caesars has enough valid signatures on its petition to put the issue on the ballot.
The group is already in the Supreme Court challenging the initiative petition, saying it is legally defective because it encompasses more than one subject.
Both challenges will be consolidated into one case.