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Nevada Senate votes to approve stadium deal

Posted at 8:40 AM, Oct 11, 2016

NOTE: Live Twitter feed from @RalstonReports, @BCallahanKTNV and @RileySnyder at end of blog.

6:52 p.m. Nevada Senators easily surpassed the required two-thirds vote for the stadium proposal, sending it to the state Assembly two days after the start of the special session and minutes before the start of Yom Kippur.

After nearly an hour of floor speeches from senators, only a handful of Democrats and Republicans ended up opposing the deal.

Senators said they were moved by testimony given by unemployed members of trade unions, who said the potential of a massive construction project like the stadium and convention center expansion represented their best chance for sustained employment.

"As difficult as this decision is," state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse said, "The positives do outweigh the negatives."

Opponents to the bill included a handful of progressive Democrats and two Republicans concerned that the measure was imposing a tax burden to benefit a private entity. State Sen. Ruben Kihuen said the bill was designed to primarily benefit Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and that the lack of profit-sharing in the deal was concerning. 

"I’ve heard no persuasive argument as to why the public should not get a share of the profit," he said.

The bill now moves to the state Assembly, but not immediately. Lawmakers plan to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and tackle the stadium and convention center bills by Thursday morning.

The state Senate is scheduled to reconvene at 2 p.m. on Thursday, with Assembly members planning to start their day at 8 a.m.

6:16 p.m. The Senate voted 16-5 to approve the stadium deal. The Assembly still needs to vote on it, come Thursday.

6 p.m. The Senate is close to a vote on the stadium proposal, trying to get it done before sundown in Carson City.

4:48 p.m. Assembly members ran out of time Tuesday, deciding to take up an amendment and vote on a bill enabling the Clark County Commission to raise room taxes to help fund police.

Assembly Republican leadership told KTNV that amendments to the bill didn't fully reflect the requests of legislators, and that time simply ran out before a fix could be made. Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson said the measure had wide support of both Republicans and Democrats.

Anderson said he thinks the special session will likely run into Friday at the earliest.

4:18 p.m. The Assembly adjourned, delaying a vote until after the Yom Kippur holiday. The Assembly will meet again at 8 a.m. Thursday.

3:55 p.m. Two state senators disclosed to KTNV that they have not taken any campaign contributions from the Las Vegas Sands since 2014.

Republican Sens. Patricia Farley and Becky Harris told KTNV that they haven't received any campaign contributions from the company since 2014, and will not report any donations from the company during the next campaign finance deadline next week.

A KTNV analysis of campaign donations revealed that companies owned by Sheldon Adelson have donated more than half a million dollars to sitting members of the Nevada Legislature since 2008, with nearly half coming in the last six months.

2:10 p.m. Republican Assembly members held an informal vote Tuesday afternoon, not finding enough support to hold up the stadium deal over a controversial school choice program.

Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen told KTNV that Republican lawmakers held an informal poll to see if lawmakers would support adding a provision adding funding to the state's Educational Savings Account program, and that less than 15 lawmakers supported.

The state's Supreme Court ruled in September that the program used an unconstitutional, and several Republicans have called on Gov. Brian Sandoval to include a funding mechanism in the special session. Sandoval in a statement said the issue was important but complicated enough to warrant dealing with during the normal session.

9:35 a.m. After a terse standoff between lawmakers and members of the public, people will be allowed to testify on the stadium deal until 11 a.m.

State Sen. Michael Robeson initially scheduled out an hour of public testimony on Tuesday morning over the stadium deal, leading to loud protests from opponents of the bill in Las Vegas. After consulting with other lawmakers, Roberson extended the public testimony time by two hours.

Several trade union members testified in favor of the bill, saying that the lack of major construction projects in Clark County was leading to high rates of unemployment among union members.

"We don’t have the opportunity to train the next generation of construction workers," Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council head Bill Stanley said. "You wonder why we don’t do workforce development."

8:30 a.m. Nevada senators are expected to vote on the proposed stadium and convention center legislation today, before breaking at sundown for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

State Senate Majority Leader told reporters that he planned to hold a vote Tuesday on SB1, which would raise the Clark County room tax to help finance a proposed domed stadium near the Las Vegas Strip and a planned expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Any vote would need to come before sundown Tuesday, when Yom Kippur starts and lawmakers plan to break in order to honor the holiday.

Senators are also hearing about an hour of opposition to the stadium deal, after several hours of choreographed proponents testimony on Monday from casino and other business leaders. Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani told lawmakers that the current proposal was a horrible deal for taxpayers.

"There’s something very very flawed with this," she said from Las Vegas.

Assembly members are also expected to vote on a separate piece of legislation that would increase sales taxes to help fund more police primarily on the Strip, and will gavel in at 11 a.m.

A Twitter List by KTNV