Room Tax Vote Stalls Before Nevada Legislature

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After nearly seven hours of open and closed door meetings Monday, the state Senate adjourned without voting on a petition to raise the room tax rate by 3 percentage points in Clark and Washoe counties. The tax increase is designed to raise $233 million over the next two years. The Assembly passed the proposal last month on a 35-7 vote. Since then, support for the proposal has been shaky. The proposed room tax increase would need the support of 14 of the state's 21 senators before going to Governor Jim Gibbons for his signature. Opponents of the tax argue that Clark County hotels and motels were unfairly burdened because nearly 99 percent of the room tax revenue would be raised in the state's most populated county. Kim Sinatra, general counsel for Wynn Resorts said that even with the increase, the 13 percent tax rate in Las Vegas would be less than most other major convention cities. Sinatra noted that Wynn Resorts, Station Casinos and Harrah's back the increase. Las Vegas Sands Inc. is on record as opposing higher tax. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority declined to send a representative to speak against the tax increase plan. After hearing opposition to the tax increase, Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno noted that the room tax proposal may be more palatable to the citizens of Nevada than other tax increases because the tax would be paid by tourists.

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