Politics & Government

Legislature gives final approval to tax breaks for Tacoma Dome vendors

A bill exempting service contractors at the city-owned Tacoma Dome from paying the state’s leasehold excise tax is headed to Gov. Inslee for his signature.
A bill exempting service contractors at the city-owned Tacoma Dome from paying the state’s leasehold excise tax is headed to Gov. Inslee for his signature. News Tribune file photo

The Senate approved a bill Saturday to reinstate a tax break for vendors at the Tacoma Dome.

By a 44-4 vote, the Senate shipped HB 1301 to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. The bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, exempts companies that contract to provide services at the city-owned Dome from paying the state’s leasehold excise tax.

Vendors did not pay the tax for decades, but the state Department of Revenue in 2016 said there was nothing in state law saying the Dome was exempt.

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, was among the four senators who opposed the bill.

“We can’t even afford a nominal issue in a rural area such as safe storage of crop protection products. If we can’t afford that, then we can’t afford to subsidize an arena,” he said.

Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, said the Dome was not asking for a subsidy.

“The arena is asking for the same kind of treatment that we have at several other sports stadiums and our big entertainment centers in the Puget Sound. It’s a matter of just tax fairness,” he said.

Venues that are exempt from the tax include the stadiums for the Seattle Mariners and Seahawks, the ShoWare Center in Kent and the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

If the bill becomes law, the state would not collect about $22,000 in tax revenue a year. Pierce County and the city of Tacoma would lose $19,600 annually, according to a report by nonpartisan legislative staff.

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, couldn’t resist a little Dome promo on the Senate floor.

“Listen, if you want to see the American Ninja Warriors, you need to come to the Tacoma Dome to see that. So all the great acts, all the great performances are at the Tacoma Dome. So you want to support his bill if you want to be entertained here in the state of Washington,” he said.

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