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May 7, 2021

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Nevada governor scraps bill to create business innovation zones

Sisolak Discusses COVID-19 Numbers

Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Pool

Gov. Steve Sisolak discusses NevadaOs recent COVID-19 figures during a press conference at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Las Vegas.

CARSON CITY — Gov. Steve Sisolak has scrapped plans for a bill to create so-called innovation zones, business-run governments similar in power to counties, in favor of a proposed study on the subject.

Sisolak, in a statement this morning, said the proposal should undergo further vetting.

Sisolak said the proposal “deserves additional attention and discussion, and not under the pressure of less than 40 remaining days in the current legislative session.”

“I know that legislators, stakeholders and Nevadans still have questions, and I want those questions to be discussed and answered,” he said. “I want people to be enthusiastic about this opportunity, not skeptical about a fast-tracked bill.”

Sisolak is now proposing a resolution to form an interim committee to study innovation zones. It would have three or more members from both the Senate and the Assembly.

The committee would meet at least once a month and present findings to the state by the end of the year. Possible recommendations from the committee could include no further action, action in the 2023 legislative session or action ahead of the 2023 legislative session.

The original proposal, which was circulated as a bill draft, would have allowed companies with more than 50,000 acres of contiguous land and a promise to invest at least $1.25 billion in the zone to create what would essentially be a government separate from the surrounding county.

The proposal was linked to Blockchains LLC, a cryptocurrency company with 67,000 acres of land in rural Storey County.

In early March, Storey County commissioners passed a resolution against ceding local control of portions of the county.

Leadership from both chambers of the Legislature released statements as part of the governor’s announcement, stressing the need for more assessment of the idea.

“We understand that there are outstanding questions that deserve discussion and vetting, and this path forward will allow us to remain open to economic diversification while determining the full impact to our state,” Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said in a statement.

Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus, R-Wellington, said she was pleased Sisolak took a step back.

“Stakeholder input should have been step one, and I look forward to seeing broader impact studies,” she said.