Democrats in Nevada are now reportedly planning to introduce legislation that would allow tech companies to form their own local governments at the local level.
Democrat Governor Steve Sisolak announced the plan last week and stated that the ultimate goal was to form “Innovation Zones” in an effort to boost the state’s economy.
“According to a draft of the proposed legislation, obtained by the Review-Journal but not yet introduced in the Legislature, Innovation Zones would allow tech companies like Blockchains, LLC to effectively form separate local governments in Nevada, governments that would carry the same authority as a county, including the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and justice courts and provide government services, to name a few duties,” The Las Vegas Review Journal reported. “Sisolak pitched the concept in his State of the State address as his plan to bring in new companies that are at the forefront of ‘groundbreaking technologies,’ all without the use of tax abatements or other publicly funded incentive packages that had previously helped Nevada bring companies like Tesla to the state.”
Sisolak noted Blockchains, LLC during his speech and suggested that they had committed to developing a so-called “smart city” near Reno that would attempt to run solely on blockchain technology.
“The Governor’s Office of Economic Development would oversee applications for the zones, which would be limited to companies working in specific business areas including blockchain, autonomous technology, the Internet of Things, robotics, artificial intelligence, wireless, biometrics and renewable resource technology,” the Associated Press reported. “Zone requirements would include applicants owning at least 78 square miles (202 square kilometers) of undeveloped, uninhabited land within a single county but separate from any city, town or tax increment area.”
Companies would also need to have at least a quarter of a billion dollars and would need to have plans to invest at least a full billion in their zones over a 10-year period.
A spokesperson for the governor’s office stated that he “looks forward to rolling out more information on Innovation Zones and other items from his State of the State speech in the future.”
“The Governor’s Office has not submitted a bill draft request related to this initiative so we will not be commenting on any language at this time,” the statement concluded.
Nevada’s economy has been hit hard due to the coronavirus pandemic because it “relies heavily on tax revenue from tourism and hospitality to underwrite spending, including on health care and education,” the AP reported in December. “Sales tax accounts for almost one-third of general fund revenue and the state also relies heavily on live entertainment and gaming taxes from tourists who frequent concerts and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.”
Tourism numbers in the state are currently the lowest in nearly 30 years due to restrictions that were installed to slow down the spread of the virus.
News that Nevada is trying to attract tech companies comes after a number of tech groups have left Silicon Valley in California for more business friendly environments in Texas and Florida.