Las Vegas Sun

August 23, 2019

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D.C. lawmakers visit Nevada Legislature, talk nuclear waste, health care

Sen. Jacky Rosen

Sen. Jacky Rosen

Catherine Cortez Masto

Catherine Cortez Masto

Dina Titus

Dina Titus

CARSON CITY — Members of Nevada’s congressional delegation visited state lawmakers last week to discuss issues they’re tackling in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Dina Titus, all Democrats, spoke to the Legislature on topics from rural broadband internet to the Affordable Care Act.

All three lawmakers also discussed nuclear waste storage, including the federal government’s secret shipment of plutonium to Nevada and the status of the Yucca Mountain depository.

Cortez Masto touted the partnership between federal and state lawmakers in opposing the plutonium shipment, saying there was “no better example of our collaboration.”

She said she would oppose any appointees to the Department of Energy until it pledged to quit sending plutonium to Nevada and provides a timeline for removing the previous shipment.

Rosen and Titus said Nevada should not be the nation’s dumping ground for nuclear waste.

Titus said she would fight any funding for the Yucca Mountain project northwest of Las Vegas.

“In the recent round of federal appropriations bills, behind closed doors, the Republicans tried to insert funding for Yucca Mountain,” she said. “They did it at the last minute, in the dark.”

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the Department of Energy next year includes $116 million for Yucca Mountain.

Health care was also a prevailing theme.

“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,” Cortez Masto said in defense of Obamacare.

Rosen agreed, saying that “no person should be forced to decide between paying their bills or paying for their life-saving medication,” she said.

Here are some other things the lawmakers had to say:

• Rosen talked about improving Nevada’s education system. “It’s only through robust, quality education that we can build a strong workforce, and that workforce helps to build Nevada’s economy,” she said.

• Titus criticized the federal government’s stance on marijuana, which blocks Department of Veterans Affairs doctors from researching uses for cannabis and prevents marijuana dispensaries and other businesses from using the banking system. While marijuana is legal in Nevada and some other states, it remains illegal under federal law.

• Titus stressed the importance of the 2020 Census, noting it will influence how much federal money Nevada gets. She thanked Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak for putting money in his proposed budget for Census outreach programs.

• Cortez Masto said she is pushing for better broadband internet access in rural areas and more affordable housing. Access to fast internet is “vital for the economy of the future, for how our kids learn, for how our seniors can see their doctors,” she said.

Affordable housing, meanwhile, “is key to providing stability and economic security for Nevada families, allowing them to build wealth and plan for their future,” Cortez Masto said.

• All three lawmakers noted the historic nature of the Legislature’s makeup, which for the first time is a majority female. “When women put their minds together, there is no ground we cannot break and there is no glass ceiling we cannot break,” Rosen said.