A controversial bill that would have enabled Nevada counties to charge each other impact fees for development was gutted Friday and will be replaced with legislation to create a legislative study group.
“We’ll keep the bill number, the sponsors, but probably the rest of it we’ll not keep,” Assemblyman Skip Daly, D-Sparks, told the Assembly Government Affairs Committee discussing Assembly Bill 153.
Daly said he met Thursday with a group of 25 stakeholders who were overwhelmingly opposed to the bill and then spoke with the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) on how to proceed.
He said LCB suggested a bipartisan, technical advisory committee appointed by Assembly and Senate leadership, presumably to study the matter during the next interim, if the revised bill moves forward.
Daly sponsored AB 153 in response to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC), the Storey County industrial park that’s home to 100 companies including Tesla and Switch, which he said negatively affects traffic, schools and services in Washoe County.
As originally proposed, the bill would have required counties to determine if proposed development would affect other counties and then to pay impact fees to any county documenting those impact on its roads, services and schools.
“You have 17 counties in this state. This would open a Pandora’s box,” said Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko. “This can be done by interlocal agreement between counties and not by law.”
Daly said that was true, but nothing compels counties to cooperate.
Assemblyman Al Kramer, R-Carson City, questioned whether the bill as originally written would kill economic development.
“When (Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada) is talking to a company about moving or expanding here, they want to eliminate uncertainty,” Kramer said. “This seems to introduce big uncertainty.”
During the hearing, no one spoke in support of the bill while 14 representatives from various counties rose to oppose it.
Jeff Page, county manager, Lyon County, said TRIC has had a positive impact on Lyon County, where unemployment has dropped from nearly 20 percent to just more than 6 percent.
“We request you kill the bill and do a two-year study,” Page said.
Mary Walker, representing Carson City and Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties, said a study was already done by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development when Tesla was first proposed.
It found Tesla could have an annual economic impact of $5.4 billion, most of which would accrue to Washoe County because of Storey County tax abatements Tesla received as part of its deal to locate here.
“The basic premise of the bill is a negative impact on Washoe County due to large projects,” said Walker. “I disagree with that premise.”
The bill’s sponsor found a silver lining despite the widespread opposition to his bill.
“Without this bill, we probably wouldn’t have gotten people together,” Daly told the committee. “We’ve already achieved a partial goal to get people to start thinking and talking cooperatively.”
Committee Vice Chair Assemblywoman Dina Neal offered a suggestion for the future.
“I’d advise next time not throwing a bomb into the situation and instead saying ‘Let’s talk,’” said Neal.