Nevada's trucking industry is fighting a plan to let private companies build and profit from high-tech ports of entry that would use X-ray machines to scan trucks for contraband and human smuggling.
Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, sponsor of AB374, told the Ways and Means Committee Wednesday that the ports are needed because Las Vegas is a high-risk terrorist target.
"We need to reduce Nevada's vulnerability to potential terrorist attacks and we need to ensure the safety of our citizens and tourists," Oceguera said.
The plan requires the Nevada Department of Transportation to solicit private companies to construct and finance four entry ports on Interstate 15 in southern Nevada and Interstate 80 in northern Nevada, on the state's eastern and western borders.
High-tech equipment could scan up to 20,000 trucks a day to see if they're being used to smuggle drugs, people or explosives that could be used by terrorists.
The bill has support from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Nevada Highway Patrol. A new amendment that allows for the private financing persuaded NDOT to switch its original opposition to the bill to a neutral stance. The change allows NDOT to form contracts for operating the ports and charge "commercial motor vehicles a fee to cover all the costs related to the development, financing, construction, maintenance, management and operations" of the ports.
The Nevada Motor Transport Association opposes the bill.
"There are 37 ways to get into the state and this is only going to take care of four. ... If I have millions of dollars of contraband, illegal aliens, drugs, noxious plants, I'm not going to drive through if I know there's a port of entry there," said Ronald Levine, the group's government affairs director.
Oceguera said the ports would cost the state nothing and trucks would pay $5 to $7 per inspection.
Levine said he's hearing the inspections would cost each truck over $100, but he'd still oppose the bill if it only cost $5 per truck.