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Nevada Legislature urges economic diversification in 2021 session

Posted at 5:22 AM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 08:36:12-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As the pandemic shuttered businesses nationwide in March of 2020, Nevada's tourism and gaming heavy economy was impacted more than any other state.

Lockdowns, travel advisories and safety concerns reduced travel, closed casinos on the Strip, and left thousands of hospitality workers out of a job.

Ahead of the 2021 legislative session all of the party leaders on both sides of the aisle agreed that economic diversification would be the key to insulating the state's fragile economy.

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Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said the issue has been one brought up by lawmakers every session as events like the 2008 recession and now the pandemic expose the risk of relying too heavily on tourism and gaming.

"I really think that while we have had this conversation many times," she said."I’m born and raised her. So, I’ve heard it and I know how frustrating it can be for so many people to hear that."

Cannizzaro said the state is in a good position to incentivize growth in new industries including green energy.

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said his focus is on investments in infrastructure, education, and healthcare.

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"It's not just a corporation's name. Its employees and staff and families that are coming too," he said, "they need to take advantage of those amenities in the community."

Republican leaders Robin Titus and James Settelmeyer said the key should be getting the government out of business owner's way by removing regulations and reducing taxes.

"To do that, we need to have a tax-friendly environment," Titus said. "We need to make sure that we welcome these companies in and don't discourage these companies. We have some big competition out there with Florida and Texas."

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Settelmeyer said the legislature's only role should be potentially establishing places for businesses to go, and then giving them benefits to encourage them to come.

"Concepts such as we'll give them a tax credit only for new employees," he said. "And that makes sense because, again, we're not going to get it if they're not here anyway."