CARSON CITY, Nev., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called on Nevada lawmakers to outlaw prostitution, saying it has detracted from the state's economic development.
Reid, Nevada's senior U.S. senator, said at least one unidentified businessman expressed discomfort at locating in a county where brothels were legal, prompting some state Democrats and Republicans to criticize Reid for bringing up a side issue while the Legislature is trying to balance a state budget that's $2.2 billion out of whack, the Las Vegas Sun reported Wednesday.
Reid drew applause during his joint address to the Nevada Legislature Tuesday when he said, "Nevada needs to be known as the first place for innovation and investment -- not the last place where prostitution is still legal."
But his call for lawmakers to "outlaw prostitution" drew silence, the Sun said.
Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, a Democrat, said the issue was low on his list.
"I share Senator Reid's concern, and I understand where he is coming from," Oceguera said in a statement. "Once we have addressed this budget crisis and the Nevada economy, we will take a close look at the issue and its effect on our state."
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said his discussions didn't indicate legalized prostitution was a barrier to economic development.
"I've toured 100 businesses and talked with a lot of people," Sandoval said, "and it did not come up in any conversation that I had in regard to Nevada's ability to attract businesses here."
The one brothel owner attending Reid's speech, Dennis Hof of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, told reporters, "Harry Reid will have to pry the cathouse keys from my cold, dead hands."
Legislators of both parties generally consider legal prostitution in Nevada, the only state that permits it, as a matter of local control by the rural counties where it is allowed, Politico said. There are 28 legal brothels in the state.