2-Minute Preview: Blockchain, bullet trains from Vegas to Reno and Airbnb taxes on docket

It’s been a week full of long days for Nevada lawmakers, and schedules are only getting more packed as lawmakers begin to finish week eight of the 120-day session. A wide variety of topics are up for discussion on Thursday, ranging from the technology behind Bitcoin to taxes on Airbnb.

Blockchain and Bitcoin

Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer wants to ensure open access to the technology behind the popular electronic currency Bitcoin.

Under SB398, local governments would be prohibited from imposing fees, taxes, license requirements or any other restrictions on the use of blockchain technology, a decentralized software designed to secure online transactions for a variety of purposes. While Bitcoin is probably the best-known use of the technology, other uses include online contract signing, insurance and devices connected to the internet.

Watch the hearing on SB398 in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 1:30 p.m.

Bullet train from Vegas to Reno

No more all-day road trips or Southwest flights between Nevada’s major cities — Republican Assemblyman Jim Marchant wants the state to study the possibility of putting a bullet train between Reno and Las Vegas.

Marchant’s bill, AB360, would have the Department of Transportation do a feasibility study on how much a high-speed rail connection would cost and what impacts it would have on the environment.

The bill seeks $30 million from the general fund to pay for the study — a measure that’s a long shot because it’s not included in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

Watch the hearing at 3:15 p.m. in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

Taxes on Airbnb

Short-term rentals like Airbnb would be subject to hotel room taxes under a bill proposed by Democratic Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams. The bill, AB294, would make short-term rentals at people’s homes subject to all applicable local hotel taxes.

Airbnb has welcomed taxation in many cities, viewing it to be a sign of legitimacy at a time when some landlords and jurisdictions are seeking to crack down on the practice. Opponents say the lure of Airbnb and similar platforms have prompted some homeowners to convert their homes into full-time rental properties, exacerbating a shortage of affordable housing for people who actually live in a given city and thus increasing rents.

Lawmakers are also trying to get a handle on short-term rentals through AB321, sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Heidi Swank. The measure requires platforms like Airbnb to submit reports to the city or county where they’re located, and it calls on counties to authorize an agency that can issue subpoenas to determine whether hosts or guests are violating state law or local ordinances.

Watch the hearing at 4 p.m. in the Assembly Taxation Committee.