Faraday deal in hands of Assembly
The Senate finished its work on the Faraday Future tax package Friday night.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 1, the Assembly bill and two water infrastructure bills late Friday night.
That puts the ball squarely in the Assembly’s court this morning when it must consider not only SB1 but the water bills in order to close the 29th special session.
AB1 was the first to go to a vote, passing out of the Assembly 37-4 with Assembly members Robin Titus of Smith Valley, Ira Hansen of Sparks and Victoria Shelton of Las Vegas opposed. The Senate late in the evening passed AB1, making it the first of the package to head for the governor’s desk.
The Senate vote was 17-1 with Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, opposed. Sens. Debbie Smith, Kelvin Atkinson and Tick Segerblom, all Democrats, were absent.
Senators then processed SB1, passing by the same 17-1 vote as AB1.
Most of the attention for the special session was focused on SB1 which was amended first to remove language opponents said would make dramatic changes to long-standing Nevada water law.
The water issues were then inserted into two bills, SB2 and SB3 which also were passed by the Senate late Friday.
SB1 was amended to clarify the requirements for proving that workers hired by Faraday or its construction contractors are actually Nevada residents. The company must hire a certain percentage of Nevada, not out of state, workers in order to get some of the incentives in the package.
The amendment also changed language that gave the director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development “sole” authority to make changes to the package of incentives, abatements and requirements, requiring any such changes be approved by the economic development board headed by the governor.
Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said SB1 provides the tax incentives and abatements to bring Faraday to North Las Vegas but contains significant safeguards to make sure the electric car company fulfills its commitments to the state including investing $1 billion in the plant and making sure 50 percent of those employed are Nevadans. He said if they don’t, clawback provisions will reclaim the tax abatement money and turn it over to the entities that would have otherwise received it.
Gustavson, the lone opponent, complained that the Legislature should “focus on helping all Nevada businesses not just a select set of firms.”
“Where are the tax subsidies for mom and pop businesses that are already producing jobs,” he asked.
But other members were solidly in favor of the measure including Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, who said her district “was the hardest hit” by the recession.
“This will help go a long way helping bring life back into the community of North Las Vegas,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said the bill would “protect and expand the middle class” by providing thousands of good jobs.
Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, whose district includes the Apex industrial complex, said the bill would bring not only Faraday but other businesses to the area: “If we build it they will come.”
Roberson fired back at Gustavson pointing out that he voted for the Tesla deal.
“Be consistent,” he said. “Let’s be one Nevada.”
In the Assembly, Republican Erv Nelson of Las Vegas said AB1 is “a big step toward matching up the skills that are needed with the educational process.” Pat Hickey, R-Reno, said it places a priority on recruitment and training of the skilled workforce needed to draw business to Nevada.
Ira Hansen, R-sparks, opposed the bill saying, “we are creating another new agency, a bureaucracy” that he said isn’t needed, and giving “immense powers to the executive director of GOED.”
“Once again we are asking the Nevada taxpayer to subsidize business and that’s wrong,” said Robin Titus, R-Smith Valley.
In the end, only Hansen, Titus, Brent Jones and Victoria Seaman, both Las Vegas, opposed AB1.
Senators approved SB2 which “facilitates” the transfer of water rights through the surrounding basins to provide service to Apex. Goicoechea said the bill doesn’t require the state engineer to approve any transfers but does allow them. He said it shouldn’t impact existing law.
And they approved SB3, which turns control and responsibility for developing the water infrastructure over to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The Las Vegas Valley Water District will then handle operation and billing.
Lawmakers hope to complete the special session today with final approval of SB1 and the water bills by the Assembly.
Lawmakers are considering $215 million in incentives for the Chinese-backed automaker that wants to bring a $1 billion plant and 4,500 jobs to North Las Vegas.
Nevada officials also want permission to publicly finance $120 million in water, rail and road improvements at the Apex Industrial Park,an undeveloped industrial center at the edge of North Las Vegas. In addition, it commits the state to build some $120 million in infrastructure improvements needed to make the site viable. That includes a freeway interchange into the site, gas, water and electric utilities. The total state benefit to the plant comes to $335 million.
Faraday Future plans to unveil a concept car ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. It hopes to bring a vehicle to market as early as 2017.
The venture is backed by Jia Yueting, an online video and gadget entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Beijing-based holding company LeTV.
The agreement is projected to bring state and local governments $760 million in tax revenue — three times the amount of tax abatements and credits the state plans to offer the company.