Nevada Congress member Dina Titus on Monday addressed both chambers of the Nevada Legislature. She spoke about her work in Washington D.C. and the legislators’ work in Carson City, where there is a little more than a month left in the 2021 legislative session.
Titus served in the Nevada Legislature from 1988 to 2008 and said she was sorry she couldn’t be there in person.
“I want to thank each and every one of you for continuing to do the people’s business in the face of the pandemic,” Titus said. “Serving in the Nevada Legislature has always involved sacrifices – time away from family and jobs. But never before has it carried the personal risk of meeting together while our state is fighting a virus that has taken the lives of more than 5,400 of our fellow Nevadans.”
She said it is the job of state legislators and Nevada’s congressional delegation to provide the state’s residents with hope. She stressed that vaccinations will continue to play a key role in Nevada’s recovery from the pandemic and its economic toll.
“With this incredible tool in our pocket, I know that Nevada’s best days are ahead. Under the great leadership of Governor Steve, you have laid the groundwork for a strong recovery. Meanwhile, I’ve been working hard in Washington to pass measures that will help put shots in arms, money in pockets, workers in jobs, and students safely back in schools,” Titus said.
She called President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan the “linchpin” in getting Nevada and the rest of the country on track to economic recovery, noting that tourism figures in Nevada were down by more than half over the last year and the state still has one of the highest unemployment rates.
“That is why I pushed so hard to ensure that, in the American Rescue Plan, the hardest-hit states receive the highest share of aid. As a result, the State of Nevada, our counties and cities will receive over $4 billion in flexible funding to help address budget gaps, accelerate vaccine distribution, keep frontline workers on the payroll, and provide rent and food assistance to the most vulnerable,” she added.
“We have got to make it easier for Nevadans to find jobs.”
Titus gave a comparison between Nevada and Utah to illustrate how the American Rescue Plan benefits the hardest hit. Utah’s population is a bit higher than Nevada’s, but its unemployment rate did not soar so high during the pandemic. As a result, Utah is receiving $2.5 billion compared to Nevada’s $4 billion.
Titus also touched upon some of the American Rescue Plan’s dollars that are earmarked for different, specific purposes, like $964 million that will go to Nevada’s schools and funds that will expand access to health care and increase the Child Tax Credit—as well as the direct payments included in the plan that will be received by 87% of adults in the state and 86% of children.
The American Rescue Plan includes $28.6 billion for direct relief to independent restaurants and $16 billion for live performance venues, two types of businesses that have struggled throughout the pandemic.
“We need these resources to get our economy quickly moving in the right direction again, but we also need longer-term opportunities to make Nevada more resilient during economic downturns,” Titus said. “We have got to make it easier for Nevadans to find jobs.
“That is why I advocated in my position as the Chair of the Economic Development Subcommittee to provide $3 billion in grants to be administered by the Economic Development Administration to boost local economies across the country.”
Some $750 million of these grants will specifically go to states like Nevada that have experienced a significant loss of travel and tourism-related jobs. Titus said this marks the “first time in our nation’s history that the Economic Development Administration will have a mandate to provide grants to communities like ours.”
Last week, Biden announced the American Families Plan—a companion to the American Rescue Plan that Titus said, while it will be difficult to get passed in Congress, would “make it easier to get into the middle class and stay in the middle class.” She also noted that both plans could be paid for without raising taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000 per year.
Titus also praised the legislators for their work, including the unanimous passage of Assembly Bill 106. AB 106 allocated an additional $50 million in federal aid to small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic.
She also praised Senate Bill 173, the so-called Nevada Back on Track Act, which passed unanimously in the Senate on April 14 and is now awaiting a vote in the Assembly. The bill would provide options for at-risk students to attend in-person or virtual summer school in an effort to close the widening academic achievement gap.
Titus touted the Assembly’s passage of Assembly Joint Resolution 3. The resolution, introduced by Assembly member Cecelia González, urges the conservation of 30% of Nevada’s lands and waters by the year 2030 in response to scientific recommendations to address climate, extinction and biodiversity crises.
Gun control bills currently being considered in the legislature to expand background checks and ban so-called “ghost guns” with no serial numbers also received a nod—as did the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 8 to amend the Nevada Constitution to guarantee equal rights for all Nevadans.
Titus ended her address to the legislators by discussing “one major area” where she said she was “especially proud that Nevada is an outlier.”
“Across the country, we have seen state legislatures advance voter suppression bills based on the Big Lie about the 2020 election,” she said. “Let me be clear—individuals who continue to promote these baseless conspiracy theories are a threat to U.S. democracy. Words have consequences and I saw them first-hand when I was barricaded in my Washington, D.C. office for hours on Jan. 6 as domestic terrorists attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”
Titus complimented Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s oversight of elections and legislators’ consideration of bills to enhance access for eligible voters. Nevada’s Republican Party voted in April to censure Cegavske, accusing her of failing to fully investigate allegations of fraud in the 2020 election.
“Ultimately, I am convinced we will bounce back from this past year stronger than ever,” she said. “Nevada was battle born, and it is battle weathered. We are a resilient state. We’ve proven it before. I know in my heart that our best days are ahead. Thank you all for working so hard and so smart with me to put us on the path to strong recovery.”