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Bill would help Las Vegas hotel operators rehire, pay employees

WASHINGTON — Legislation filed by a Hawaii lawmaker that would provide hotel owners and operators with new grant opportunities and tax credits to help pay employees and rehire laid-off workers was supported Wednesday by a Senate panel chairwoman on tourism.

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., who chairs the Senate Commerce subcommittee on tourism, co-sponsored the Save Hotel Jobs Act filed by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. The bill would provide federal assistance for hotels to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“In 2020, the peak of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, Nevada lost tens of thousands of jobs in the hospitality industry,” Rosen said in a statement.

Nationwide, the industry lost 3.1 million jobs during the pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Our hospitality industry needs additional support to fully recover, and I am committed to bringing Nevada hotel employees back to work,” Rosen said.

The bill would support hotel workers through direct grants to employers for payroll and benefits. It would also require employers accepting grants to give laid-off workers first right on job openings. (The Nevada Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 386, which gives workers laid off in the pandemic the right to return to their former jobs, if they chose to do so. Gov. Steve Sisolak praised that bill in a speech to members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 on Tuesday.)

The legislation would also provide tax credits to promote worker safety and help pay for safety equipment, cleaning materials and safeguards for housekeeping workers.

Rosen said that as tourism numbers bounce back to pre-pandemic levels “this legislation will provide the resources needed to rehire large numbers of hotel workers in a safe and timely manner.”

The legislation has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., is a member of the panel that oversees tax legislation.