A proposed bill in Nevada would allow tech companies with money, land, and an "innovative technology" to form their own local governments.
The bill, first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, provides details into a proposal from Gov. Steve Sisolak to create "Innovation Zones" in the state to attract new tech companies. According to the paper, these Innovation Zones would "would allow tech companies like Blockchains, LLC to effectively form separate local governments in Nevada, governments that would carry the same authority as a county, including the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and justice courts and provide government services, to name a few duties."
The draft legislation reportedly says that the traditional local government model is "inadequate alone to provide the flexibility and resources conducive to making the State a leader in attracting and retaining new forms and types of businesses and fostering economic development in emerging technologies and innovative industries."
It calls for a new "alternative form of local government" to assist with economic development in Nevada.
Tech companies that apply for an Innovation Zone must meet certain requirements, including having $250 million cash on hand, owning 50,000 acres of undeveloped, uninhabited land within a single Nevada county separate of any city, town, or tax increment area, and having a plan to invest an additional $1 billion into the zone over the next decade. The Nevada Office of Economic Development would be responsible for granting permits to companies that meet these requirements.
The companies that apply must have a specific "innovative technology," which according to the Review-Journal includes blockchain, autonomous technology, the internet of things, robotics, artificial intelligence, wireless technology, biometrics and renewable resource technology.
After a zone is established, it would initially operate under the jurisdiction of the local county where it is located but eventually the county will cede sovereignty to the zone and the company would become an independent governmental body.
Each zone would have a three-member board of supervisors that hold the same powers as county commissioners, with the company that applies for the zone having significant power to determine who sits on that board.
The zones would be required to report to the state legislature during its biennial session to inform lawmakers of its capital investments, physical progress on infrastructure development, number of people employed in the zone, and the economic impact of the zone on the state.
Gov. Sisolak first proposed the idea in his State of the State address on Jan. 19, in which he stated his desire to bring companies with "groundbreaking technologies" to Nevada without using traditional policies like tax abatements or other publicly funded incentives.