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Special Session Day Two: Senate Approves Hotel Tax Hike For Stadium

senate_special_session.jpg
Joe Schoenmann
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State lawmakers took Wednesday off in observance of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. 

When legislators return to work Thursday, the Assembly will take up the issue of raising the hotel room tax to pay for a domed stadium and the improvement and expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

The Senate approved the $1.1 billion in new taxes during day two of the special session Tuesday. 

KNPR's State of Nevada co-host Joe Schoenmann is in Carson City covering the special session. He said before the session started it was believed the proposal would face more opposition in the Senate than in the Assembly.

Schoenmann said most senators who voted for the tax hike justified it because the stadium would create jobs. However, critics said the statistics that show job growth are from Nevada-based research firms and no firms from outside the state were asked to look at the issue.  

Critics of a plan addressed lawmakers Tuesday.  Opponents had complained on Monday that they were only given an opportunity to speak late in the day with little warning.

All lawmakers were told to arrive promptly for a 2 p.m. meeting on Monday, where they watched a promotional video about the project and listened to heavy-hitting proponents of the deal including Steve Wynn and executives from Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts.

Critics also found it inappropriate that lawmakers clapped after speeches from proponents, but Democratic state Sen. Ruben Kihuen was asked to stop clapping when he applauded for a critic.

John L. Smith told KNPR's State of Nevada that Kihuen had "a very spirited vilification of Sheldon Adelson," when talking about funding the stadium and education. 

 

Funding a stadium before improving education has long been a sticking point for opponents to the project. Many people argue that $750 million to improve education is a better use of public money.

 

Smith noted the special session left many democrats "straddling both sides of the fence" as they have long tried to funnel more money into education. 

 

Both Smith and Schoenmann believe the Assembly will pass the tax hike when it reconvenes Thursday. 

 

(Editor's note:  The Associated Press contributed to this report)

 

 

John L. Smith, commentator

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)