Carson City, NV – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) addressed the Nevada State Legislature, highlighting her legislative priorities for the 116th Congress, celebrating the diversity of the Silver State and detailing her vision of how we can all work together to achieve a innovative, healthy and prosperous future for Nevada.
Watch Senator Cortez Masto’s speech HERE. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Marshall, Senate President Pro-Tem Denis, Speaker Frierson, Majority Leaders Canizzaro and Benitez-Thompson, Minority Leaders Settelmeyer and Wheeler, and all the members of the Senate and Assembly, for allowing me to address the legislature this afternoon.
I’d like to recognize Governor Sisolak, Nevada’s Constitutional Officers, and the Justices of the Nevada Supreme Court for being here and for their leadership.
I’d also like to recognize the dedicated men and women who work behind the scenes to support the legislators, executive officers, and act as the solid foundation of our state’s government.
Thanks to all of you for your commitment to Nevada. I look forward to years of partnership as we work to address the challenges and opportunities facing our beloved state.
We’re so lucky to call ourselves Nevadans. Our state is blessed with pristine landscapes, abundant natural resources, world-class tourism, and growing economic diversity. But I think we’d all agree that what makes the Silver State special is its people.
From our world class hospitality workers, to our industrious farmers and ranchers, to our servicemen and women, to our tech entrepreneurs and our hardworking immigrant families, including DREAMers and TPS recipients, Nevada’s people make us strong.
Today, Nevada is among the most diverse states in America, and this chamber is a reflection of that rich diversity. It is also a reflection of the power of Nevada’s women.
I’m proud to represent the first state with a female-majority legislature and Supreme Court; and one of just a handful of states to be represented by two women in the United States Senate.
Nevadans truly understand that our diversity is our strength. We understand that we all win when we work together.
That’s how innovative problem solving happens. That’s why the groundbreaking laws that are passed in this legislature will improve the lives of Nevadans.
As legislators, we’re working together each day to ensure that every Nevadan gets a fair shot at success.
And while success looks different for every Nevadan, I think most of us would agree on the basics:
- Success is the peace of mind of a steady paycheck, a roof over one’s head, and access to quality, affordable health care.
- It’s being able to provide for your family and seeing your children do even better than you.
- It’s being able to have a secure retirement and live out your golden years with dignity.
Sometimes ensuring Nevadans get a fair shot means working together to help those who are struggling, like the Marvel and Cartwright families.
I met Pete Marvel and his wife in Beowawe during my annual rural tour. Pete is a rancher, but he shared a story that will sound familiar to many Nevadans. Despite working hard, last year the Marvels saw their lives and their finances thrown into chaos by something completely out of their control: a wildfire, specifically, the Martin Fire.
For Nancy Cartwright of Las Vegas, it was her late husband’s unexpected cancer diagnosis. The Cartwrights struggled with the high cost of prescription drugs – hundreds of dollars a week; they lost their life savings and their home fighting cancer.
When Nevadans face unforeseen hardship they need the support of their neighbors, their communities, and their government.
And you know what? Working together, we help Nevadans like the Marvels and Nancy during difficult times.
That’s what I’ve set out to do in the United States Senate. Every day, I’m working to find common ground with my Republican colleagues and put forth commonsense solutions that provide that fair shot for Nevada families.
That’s what I strive for as I meet Nevadans, from parents, to business owners, to conservationists, to miners, every voice is important; everyone has something to contribute.
We may not always see eye-to-eye, and that’s ok. What matters is our commitment to Nevada and our willingness to work together.
It’s our partnerships that can strengthen our state, keep us moving forward, and allow us to address the issues that matter most to Nevadans. We can build a healthier Nevada with greater opportunities for everyone.
And it starts by listening.
The one concern I hear most as I travel across our state is that Nevadans are worried about not having access to health care; it doesn’t matter if you’re from Winnemucca, Las Vegas, West Wendover, or Reno.
We must work together to strengthen our health care system, to make it more affordable and accessible, not work to dismantle it.
Nevadans don’t want to go back to the days when our state had one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation and you could be denied coverage for having a preexisting condition.
I’m proud that we’re fighting to ensure that doesn’t happen in the Silver State, which is why I want to thank Attorney General Ford for working with Governor Sisolak and joining a lawsuit that’s fighting attempts by Washington to take away the preexisting conditions protections thousands of Nevadans rely on.
And I commend the legislators here for working to strengthen protections and improve coverage for low-income children, and for working in a responsible way to achieve the goal for every Nevadan to have affordable health care. You understand that health care is the number one issue in Nevada. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, we all want our families to be healthy.
I’m bringing that example with me to Washington. Building on State Senator Yvanna Cancela’s historic effort to bring greater transparency to drug pricing, I’m proud to introduce bipartisan prescription cost reporting legislation to reduce drug costs for American taxpayers.
I’m committed to continuing to fight by your side to improve the Affordable Care Act and expand the number of health care options available to patients and families, especially in Nevada’s rural communities.
A healthy Nevada also means protecting our environment and our beautiful open spaces. This is one area in which our federal-state partnership has made the difference.
There’s no better example of our collaboration than Nevada’s unified response to this Administration’s decision to secretly ship plutonium to Nevada. Working with Nevada’s congressional delegation to provide oversight in Congress, I’m holding the Department of Energy accountable for playing games with Nevadans’ safety.
I have made it clear that I object to the appointment of all nominees to the Department of Energy until I have a commitment that they will not send another shipment of plutonium to our state, and that they give us a timeline to remove the existing plutonium at the site.
And when it comes to Yucca Mountain, we’ll continue working together to make Nevadans’ voices heard on this issue and make sure Yucca Mountain stays dead.
But that’s not the only threat we’ve seen in Nevada. Last year, our state experienced its share of wildfires that left environmental and economic devastation in their path.
As I fight to ensure Nevada receives the federal assistance it needs to recover from these devastating wildfires, and as I fight to hold FEMA accountable for its negligent response to the Sugar Loaf Fire, I know that I have strong partners in the Nevada legislature.
I know that Assemblywoman Swank and Senator Goicochea are leading the charge to find innovative solutions that contain wildfires early and make our landscapes more fire resilient, so we won’t again experience last year’s devastation.
And we’re working across all levels of government to address the root cause of these natural disasters: climate change. Whether it’s coming together at the Tahoe Summit to strengthen key partnerships to protect Lake Tahoe, or leading the nation in advancing renewable energy, we will continue to prioritize conservation while creating good-paying jobs for Nevadans. We will continue to follow the example of leaders like Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton and promote the growth of our outdoor economy.
Nevada is a leader in innovation. In the Senate, I’ve introduced legislation that ensures we continue to see strong economic development and job creation for Nevadans. My agenda is based on what I’ve seen right here in Nevada; I call it the Innovation State Initiative.
I’ve developed legislation and fought for grant opportunities that encourage the development of smart technology, expand access to broadband in underserved communities throughout rural and urban Nevada, and put guardrails in place to protect workers and ensure the responsible use of technology that continues to diversify our economy.
As part of this effort, I passed legislation to extend the Nevada UAS test site for five more years and to create a Rural Broadband Integration Working Group, which will tackle barriers to the expansion of broadband in our rural communities.
My bills will make sure Washington listens to the challenges and barriers rural communities are facing. Accessing broadband is vital for the economy of the future, for how our kids learn, for how our seniors can see their doctors, and for how our state continues to lead America in innovation and the smart and responsible use of technology.
It’s so exciting what we’re doing right here in Nevada. That being said, I also know that as we move into the 21st century, in this technological age, we must bring the workforce with us. That requires us to invest in workforce development to ensure that our children have the education to compete for jobs in their future and that our existing workforce has access to new training opportunities.
I recognize that rapid economic growth comes with growing pains for our state. That’s why we’re working together to find innovative solutions to one of Nevada’s greatest challenges: ensuring hardworking families in our state can afford to live in their communities.
If working families in Nevada are to have a fair shot, we must address the lack of affordable housing.
Our state faces a shortage of 81,787 rental homes affordable for low-income renters. And families who could purchase a home are often priced out of the market.
Affordable housing is key to providing stability and economic security for Nevada families, allowing them to build wealth, and plan for the future.
I know that Senator Ratti and others have led the fight for affordable housing here in Nevada, and they’ve been clear about where the federal government has fallen short.
That’s why I cosponsored the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, legislation that would provide 1.3 million more affordable rental homes nationwide in the next ten years. And why I fought to bring federal funds to support Nevadans experiencing homelessness and to ensure the critical support agencies we have working in the state have the funds necessary to serve Nevadans who need a “hand up.”
I’ll continue to work with Senator Ratti and all of you to ensure that Nevada gets all of the resources and support it needs to tackle the housing crisis.
The challenges our state faces are many and great. But I believe we’re up to the task.
I’m grateful to have you as partners as we work toward our goals. I know that we’ll continue to collaborate and innovate, and I look forward to fighting alongside members of the Nevada Legislature, our Governor and the Constitutional Officers to do right by the people of Nevada.
Because when Nevadans have a fair shot at success, our communities, our economy and our state thrive.