Nevada Wants to Let Tech Companies Form Their Own Governments


File photo of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 2, 2020.

File photo of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 2, 2020.
Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

Steve Sisolak, the Democratic governor of Nevada, wants to incentivize technology companies to move to his state, and he’s got some wild ideas about how to make that happen. The latest draft proposal, obtained by the Review-Journal, doesn’t just hand out the typical tax breaks that you’d expect from a governor. The proposal includes provisions that would allow companies to form their own local governments.

The proposed law, which hasn’t been formally introduced to the Nevada legislature, would establish so-called Innovation Zones that would only be open to technology companies who can meet minimum capital requirements.

Tech companies that wanted to set up shop in an Innovation Zone would need to have at least $250 million and plan to invest at least $1 billion over the next decade, according to the Review-Journal. Nevada wouldn’t just accept any tech company, either.

The proposed law lists just eight types of tech company that would be allowed to set up an Innovation Zone:

  • Blockchain
  • Autonomous technology
  • Internet of things
  • Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Wireless technology
  • Biometrics
  • Renewable resource technology

What’s in it for the company that chooses to move to one of these Innovation Zones? They get special tax breaks, of course, which are pretty typical for this type of endeavor. But they’d also get to set up their own local government, complete with a three-member board of supervisors. And any local ordinances adopted by that board would supersede the rules of the county in which their Innovation Zone was placed.

It’s all right there in the draft legislation:

The adoption of any ordinance by the Board of Supervisors supersedes any ordinance on the subject adopted by the board of county commissioners of the county in which the Innovation Zone is located.

Allowing companies to create their own governments that supersede the laws and regulations created by politicians who have voted in by residents seems terrifyingly dystopian, to say the least.

The new board of supervisors would also be allowed to create a judicial court and the three members would even be able to establish their own district attorney, county clerk, and sheriff. Companies like Facebook already have enormous private security, but this really takes things to the next level.

What are the companies not allowed to do? They can’t create a sales tax, according to the draft law, and they can’t levy property taxes. Strangely, after a period of time the hypothetical techno-town would be allowed to tax fuel.

Needless to say, this entire situation would be an absolute nightmare. And the only silver lining we can see at the moment is that this proposed law is still in the drafting stage. It’s not too late for the governor to heavily revise the proposal or to tear it up completely and toss it in the garbage. We vote for the latter, obviously, though no one is asking us.

We’ve seen enough dystopian sci-fi to know how it turns out when you let companies establish their own government. It doesn’t work out great for the average citizen.



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