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Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto addresses the Legislature on March 20, 2019. Photo by David Calvert / The Nevada Independent.

The convention and hospitality industries would get a boost from a bill introduced by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto that, among other things, would create a tax credit for the cost of attending or hosting a convention, business meeting or trade show between 2021 and 2023.

With an economy dependent on leisure and hospitality, the state was hit hard by the closure of nonessential businesses imposed by Gov. Steve Sisolak in March to help keep the coronavirus from spreading.

Leisure and hospitality accounted for a quarter of workers in Nevada in 2019, according to an analysis released Wednesday from Pew

Nevada has since recovered about two-thirds of the leisure and hospitality jobs it lost between February and April, but the state’s gaming revenue remained down 22 percent over the year in August and recent sales tax collections were down 18 percent in May and 4 percent in June, the analysis said.

The bill is designed to help those industries recover as the state reopens.

Cortez Masto introduced the bill with Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee with Cortez Masto. The Nevada Democrat also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the nation’s tax laws.

Along with a tax credit for conventions and trade shows, the bill would also establish a tax credit for restaurants or food service businesses to cover the cost of reopening or increasing service at an establishment forced to close down or scale back operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes any renovation, remediation, testing or labor cost needed to prevent the spread of the virus. The credit would be effective between the date of enactment and run through 2022.

Another tax credit would be created to encourage middle-class travel. The bill also would restore changes to the deductibility of entertainment expenses repealed by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The measure is supported by a raft of interest groups, including the Nevada Resort Association, the U.S. Travel Association, the American Gaming Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The bill comes as talks on another broad pandemic-recovery package appear to have stalled. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he intends to hold a procedural vote on a roughly $500 billion proposal next week. But Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have pushed for at least a $2.2 trillion package. And President Donald Trump has called for a $1.8 trillion measure. 

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