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Faraday Session Stretches On With Sparring Over Water Rights, Hiring Quotas

Alexa Ard

No deal has emerged yet as lawmakers enter their third day negotiating a deal to bring electric carmaker Faraday Future to Clark County. 

While state officials say the plant would kick-start development in a hard-hit area, lawmakers have several issues they want ironed out.

Our reporter Julia Ritchey has been camped out in Carson City and has the latest.

Many lawmakers predict the tax incentive package will eventually pass, though they're less certain of when.

“I am feeling very optimistic. I don’t think we’re going to be out of here Friday by any stretch of the imagination. We still have a lot of work to do.”

That’s Republican Assemblyman James Oscarson, speaking just after the assembly adjourned Thursday night. He represents the Clark County district where the Faraday plant will be located and says he’s not worried that the process has been somewhat slower.

“I think good legislation comes when a lot of people ask a lot of questions," Oscarson explains, "and we get a lot of these things answered and there’s no surprises to anybody. I think from the Tesla experience, we all learned that there’s questions we need to ask.”

Although lawmakers passed a more than $1 billion tax incentive package for Tesla about a year ago, they’ve been a tad cooler rushing through a $300 million package for Faraday.

Negotiators from the senate and assembly met throughout the day to work on amendments while state officials testified on the boon this deal would have on Nevada’s economy.

Steve Hill is the director of the governor’s economic development office:

“The incentives and abatements on the programs that we have in this legislation today are key in order to make this deal take place. Without them, Faraday would not come.”

Hill repeatedly pointed to the fact that the tax incentives being discussed were far smaller than those given to Tesla — like $38 million in tax credits verses Tesla’s $195 million.

Both are required to hire more than half of their workforce from within the state, another sticking point for some legislators who asked for assurances on hiring quotas.

But that wasn’t the only hang up; lawmakers expressed concern over how to provide water to the APEX Industrial Site in North Las Vegas where Faraday plans to build.

“Where are these water rights going to come from?" asked Republican Senator Donald Gustavson. "Where is the water going to come from? Is it going to come from the counties to the North? We don’t have all those answers yet.”

Republican Senator Ben Keikhefer said he thinks there will be some compromises.

“Overall, this is a project that is going to be instrumental to the development of the manufacturing workforce in southern Nevada," Keikhefer said, "and I hope that we’re going to be able to pass these bills to make it happen.”

Both houses are expected to swap bills Friday, and a third one dealing with water issues is also in the works.

Julia Ritchey also talked to our partner KNPR in Las Vegas on the Faraday deal, joined by KNPR's Joe Schoenmann and Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston. Listen here.

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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