Lawmakers named to ‘innovation zones’ study committee

By: - July 16, 2021 12:22 pm

Artist’s rendition of the Blockchains LLC proposed “smart city.” (Image: EYRC Architects + Tom Wiscombe Architecture)

Artist’s rendition of the Blockchains LLC proposed “smart city.” (Image: EYRC Architects + Tom Wiscombe Architecture)

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced appointments for a joint special committee meant to analyze and review the concept of allowing private companies to effectively establish their own government in undeveloped areas of Nevada.

In May, the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 to create a committee meant to examine the “innovation zones” proposal introduced during the last legislative session. The study bill was introduced after a proposal supported by Sisolak to establish an innovation zone received a cool reception from lawmakers and much of the public, and was mocked by the nation’s late night television hosts.

Appointed to the  Joint Special Committee are Southern Nevada Democratic Sens. Roberta Lange and Mo Denis, and Republican Sen. James Settelmeyer, whose district includes Storey County, which was identified as the location of the Blockchains, LLC proposal that prompted the innovation zone legislation.

Also serving on the committee are Washoe County Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson and Las Vegas Assemblyman Howard Watts, both Democrats, along with Northern Nevada Republican Assemblyman Philip P.K. O’Neill.   

The Joint Special Committee’s first meeting will take place on Thursday, August 12, 2021 and will meet at least once a month before submitting a report and recommendations to the Governor by December 31, 2021. 

“I am grateful to our leaders who will be part of this committee and work to provide further analysis and recommendation on the concept,” Sisolak said in a statement. “My goal remains the same – to have the ability to create and attract advanced technology industries prepared to significantly invest in Nevada’s success and create good-paying jobs. I look forward to the Joint Special Committees’ work and recommendations.” 

Sisolak introduced the concept of innovation zones during his 2021 State of the State address in January. Draft legislation reported on by the Las Vegas Review Journal in February confirmed the proposal was designed around Blockchains LLC and their plans to create a “smart city” on 67,000 acres of undeveloped land in Storey County.

Several state legislators have voiced concerns about the tight turnaround in the resolution to study the concept, arguing that legislative support staff will be stretched thin from special sessions anticipated later this year, leaving less time to research the complex concept with wide ramifications

The resolution, however, passed on a voice vote. The six member committee was appointed by legislative leaders from both parties.

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Jeniffer Solis
Jeniffer Solis

Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.