Nevada Governor Scaling Back Plans for Autonomous Tech ‘Innovation Zones’

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced Monday he will be scrapping plans to legislate autonomous technology ‘Innovation Zones.’

He will instead focus his attention on putting together a special joint committee to study such zones in Nevada.

A step back for tech Innovation Zones in Nevada

Gov. Steve Sisolak has announced his move to sideline plans for legislation creating technology-focused innovation zones in Nevada.  Sisolak will now move back to the drawing board with a joint committee to try and convince lawmakers to change their tune. 

The proposed bill would grant permissions to tech companies which would allow them to form self-governing bodies.  Essentially the zones would function as separate local governments within the current counties of Nevada.  

The legislation, as it was originally conceived, would allow qualified tech companies to raise tax revenue and operate empowerment centers. With the move, Sisolak hoped to accelerate and encourage the diversity of Nevada’s economy along with bringing tech companies to the state. 

The proposed bill, however, was met with a fair bit of negativity by lawmakers and interest groups. Some, like Storey County, even went as far as to pass a resolution that formally opposes Sisolak’s efforts. The group was not sold on the promises made by the legislation and its proponents. Furthermore, tribal and environmental groups raised questions about how smart cities would obtain required water rights for these population hubs. Populations are reported to reach upwards of 35,000 people.

A new plan of attack

In a separate press release on April 26, Sisolak stated his desire for proper research to take place to show legislatures the move would be a net positive for Nevada. 

“Innovation Zones is a bold proposal for our State that deserves additional attention and discussion – and not under the pressure of less than 40 remaining days in the current legislative session. I know that legislators, stakeholders, and Nevadans still have questions, and I want those questions to be discussed and answered. I want people to be enthusiastic about this opportunity, not skeptical about a fast-tracked bill.”

The proposed committee is planning to hold meetings monthly and report directly their findings to the governor and lawmakers. The final report is to be submitted by the end of the calendar year to all parties involved. With recommendations ranging from completely abandoning the idea to filing a bill draft request, it will likely be an important report for both Nevada and tech companies worldwide.