By Carla O’Day and Bob Conrad
Local officials voiced concern Thursday about a proposal that would have the state take over the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center property and rename it the Silver State Food & Agriculture Exposition Center.
If approved by legislators, the lease between the state and Washoe County would be eliminated and the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) would take it over in July 2018. Plans would then be for trustees representing various livestock organizations to manage the site, according to the proposal by Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden.
Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) Chairman Bob Lucey said he’s concerned about the state taking a piece of property without any increased revenue and then having no funds to maintain it. This could potentially result in the state requesting Reno’s room tax funds be used for maintenance, he said.
“Of course, it (the bill draft) might not hit the floor,” Lucey said.
Board member Glenn Carano noted the Livestock Events Center needs upgrades and it would be interesting to see what would come of it if the state assumes control.
“Currently, there are no firm plans, but the Nevada Department of Agriculture, along with Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center trustees and stakeholders, has been reviewing the property and its management,” said NDA Director Jim Barbee. “While currently leased to Washoe County, the property is on state-owned land, it is designated for the promotion of agriculture, and the Nevada Legislature will decide the next steps during the upcoming session.”
The 79th session of the Nevada Legislature opens Feb. 6. During the 120-day session lawmakers hash out a budget for the biennium.
“This is just a draft and work needs to be done on it,” said Mendy Elliott of Capitol Partners, the lobbying firm representing RSCVA for the upcoming legislative session.
Settelmeyer’s proposal indicated the livestock center property has moved away from its original land trust purposes as defined in 1887 when the state approved the appropriation of funds to purchase a property for the promotion of a state fair.
A state fair was held there annually between 1874 and 2010 and stopped due to funding challenges. After a few years off, it found a new home last summer at Mills Park in Carson City.
Capitol Partners submitted a sampling of bill draft requests it’s tracking to board members. Representatives said they’re tracking more than 800, some that aren’t tourism related but still might affect the organization. Open meeting laws, labor laws, economic development and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards were among things cited.
The Reno Rodeo has been looking to expand or move its operations to Wildcreek Golf Course or university property.
“We feel that we’re to the point of upgrading our facilities,” said the rodeo’s General Manager George Combs.
Examples of bill draft requests are as follows:
- BDR 37 sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Minden, would lower the minimum age to gamble in Nevada.
- BDR 41-264 sponsored by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, revises provisions governing the licensing and control of gaming.
- BDR 43 sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, would authorize municipalities to enact ordinances allowing for marijuana social clubs, events and concert arenas to allow the public use of pot.
- BDR 68 sponsored by Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, would revise provisions relating to transferable tax credits to attract film and other productions to Nevada.
- BDR 90 sponsored by Settelmeyer would make permanent the repeal of certain provisions relating to sellers of travel.
- BDR 747 sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, would revise provisions governing prevailing wage.
Texts aren’t available for many bill draft requests because the Legislative Counsel Bureau is behind on issuing them, Elliott said. Additionally, language in bill proposals could change as the session takes shape.