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July 22, 2014

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POLITICS:

Reid in favor of bills for online sales tax, gaming at state level

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lent his support to two proposals Wednesday night that could bring Nevada hundreds of millions of dollars.

Passing an online sales tax at the federal level and passing a state level online poker bill would change the game at the Nevada Legislature, where Democratic legislators are eager to increase funding for education but so far unsure about how they accomplish that.

“I’m going to do it as quickly as I can,” Reid said of a federal proposal to tax online sales.

The Democrat from Searchlight said he has the votes in Congress to pass the proposal but declined to provide details about what’s holding up the proposal.

“We have a problem with, it’s not only Republicans on this one,” he said. “We have more than enough to pass it. If I don’t get cooperation from a couple of senior members, I’ll do it without them.”

The deal would likely bring $200 million per year to Nevada, meaning legislators could chalk up an extra $400 million above what Gov. Brian Sandoval is proposing to spend in the state’s next two-year budget.

Reid also supported Sandoval’s move to create interstate online gambling compacts that would allow licensed companies to operate legal online poker websites for gamblers living in Nevada and its compact partner states.

“Nevada doesn’t have a choice unless the federal government does something,” Reid said. “I don’t blame them. I would do it too. We should’ve done it on a federal level. There’s a lot of reasons we didn’t.”

A federal deal fell apart last year, leaving Sandoval to work with Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, to create a state-level solution.

After a disagreement between the two, the governor and legislator have reached a compromise and legislation should proceed through a committee Thursday.

Licensing fees and whatever revenue the state collects through its compacts could also provide legislators more money to budget as they craft the state’s spending plan during the next few months.

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