Tesla Motors welcomed with open arms
Saying Nevada “made history today,” Gov. Brian Sandoval Thursday night signed into law the four bills that will bring the Tesla Motors battery plant to Northern Nevada.
“We’ve perhaps changed the trajectory of the state,” he said giving credit to lawmakers who crowded his office in the Capitol as well as Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
“We have announced to the world not to the country but the world that we are ready to lead.”
The first measure was signed at 10:17 p.m. and Sandoval gave the pen he used to Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, as a souvenir.
Sandoval said he, his staff and Hill’s staff have been working on the deal with Tesla since last October.
• Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.: “I commend the leadership of Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis as they ensured this crossed the finish line. The next phase of Nevada’s innovative energy future has begun.”
• Hill, referred to the Tesla deal as “a transformative package” for the state. He said it is “an exceptional opportunity.”
“It’s impact extends beyond what can be measured in an economic impact model,” he said.
• Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, said simply: “Hopefully the Nevada legislature today picked Nevada and Nevadans as winners.”
• Lance Gilman, one of the owners of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center where the factory will be built, described it as “a moment to be celebrated.”
He said the state has been formed by a series of “incredible events,” from the Comstock Lode in the 1800s to the legalization of gambling in the 1930s. He said the fact the newest event is the Tesla plant is in Storey County — home of the Comstock — is appropriate.
• Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, said Hill did an excellent job of answering lawmaker questions. He said he believes the project will be good for the south as well as the north in part because when the north’s economy grows stronger, there will be less dependence on the south to cover the cost of operating the state.
• Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, said he was reassured by NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon’s assurance building the USA Parkway won’t delay southern projects such as Project NEON.
• Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said Tesla “puts us on the map.” She said she has been told by a Silicon Valley company it’s most likely coming to Northern Nevada.
“I’m excited for the possibilities but also worried for our ability to provide services.”
She said she was especially worried about the load on Washoe County schools.
• Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said this session proves the Legislature will never be able to raise a tax but can give away a billion dollars in two days. He called for passage of the margins tax.
• Assemblyman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said he wanted assurance the $22 an hour average rate wasn’t $12 an hour for most employees mixed with $150,000 a year for executives. Hill told him that wasn’t the case.
Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said his concern was to ensure “this is about economic development, not about creating tax havens.
“It’s great for Nevada but we have to be cautious as well.”
Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, said the plant will help “move Nevada away from what (Tesla CEO) Elon Musk described as a mine and burn economy.”
But he said he’s worried because “time and time again Nevada comes up short in funding the needs of our state.” He said that includes education and health care.
He said Tesla and the workers it brings to Nevada will further stress the state’s social systems.
“What we do in the special session is not the end of the story,” he said.