Nevada Hot Buttons
Our rural hospitals are underfunded and failing. Health care coverage options continue to dwindle. Rural health resources might have disappeared altogether by now if not for extraordinary action by our state government.
Does anyone seriously believe that our health care system, including prescription drug coverage, is the best it could be in terms of cost, care, and convenience? Maybe members of Congress and Medicare beneficiaries. Not many others. Health cost horror stories abound right here in Nevada.
A country as rich as the United States can and should ensure that quality, affordable health care is available everywhere. Not just in major population centers. Not just for certain people who work certain jobs for certain employers. If nothing else, Congress can help remote areas by allocating funds for telemedicine services.
The first step toward health care reform is to set aside party rivalries and devise a comprehensive plan to provide affordable care everywhere. The poster child for partisanship, Mark Amodei, did all he could to elect an ignorant egomaniac of a president obsessed with killing a program, Obamacare, that extended affordable care to millions. In the president’s warped view, Obamacare had to go because his predecessor created it.
As your congressman, I’ll work with members of any party and vote for any plan – Democrat or Republican, Obamacare or a replacement – that makes quality health care more affordable and more widely available, particularly in rural areas.
In Nevada, 65% of the rural population lacks access to high-speed internet compared to 5% of urban Nevadans. The failure to expand broadband to rural areas is a drag on education, health care, and economic growth. With respect to health care, Nevada’s rural communities often suffer from issues that urban communities typically do not. For example, Tonopah in Nye County closed its only hospital 4 years ago, and now if those residents need emergency care they must drive over an hour and a half drive to Hawthorne or two hours to Bishop, CA. Telemedicine can resolve this issue, but rural America needs the broadband infrastructure to make it happen.
The federal government owns roughly 85 percent of the land in Nevada. That means Congress can exert a great deal of influence over any potential land development.
Public lands should be, and long have been, managed for multiple uses. The vast stark wilderness that gives our state its character must be preserved for future generations. Public land should also never be sacrificed for the short-term profits of the political donor class.
At the same time, natural resources managed responsibly can help address pressing human needs. For instance, communities like Reno that are experiencing a housing affordability crisis should be able to apply for allocations of adjacent public land for use in environmentally responsible, affordably priced housing development.
It is never easy to balance competing interests. Our state is blessed to have the highest percentage of land held in public trust. That’s a distinction to cherish and preserve.
Americans have long understood that a good education drives the engine of social mobility. It really does work. Judging by that metric, Nevada can do a whole lot better.
Nevada ranks 50th, second-worst, ahead of only New Mexico, on the Chance for Success Index contained in the latest Quality Counts annual report card on school quality from Education Week. (The list has 51 entries because it includes the District of Columbia.)
Anchoring the state to the bottom of the education barrel were separate rankings that show Nevada last in postsecondary participation and in parent education.
The good news is that the state’s traditionally abysmal high school graduation rate has been climbing for years and last year reached a record high of 83 percent. The bad news is that Nevada still ranks 47th in per-pupil spending on education.
For our state’s economic diversification to continue, we need to invest more in education and monitor the performance of that investment. Schools must work for both the most- and the least-advantaged students in our state.
That’s a hard job, and it cannot be done on a meager budget.
Federal appropriations contribute a small fraction of Nevada’s education spending, and only about 3 percent of the federal budget goes to education. That means today’s Nevadans will have to look to themselves to reverse a pattern of longtime neglect.
Our country was founded on the principle that people’s destinies are not determined by the class they are born into. Millions of immigrant success stories illustrate how free public education can be the engine of social mobility.
Washington can help by offering matching grants to states like ours that have traditionally lagged in education but are now, with a new majority in charge, willing to raise their level of support.
Education should always be a high national priority. A better-educated citizenry means a better-prepared workforce and an electorate more likely to make responsible decisions at the ballot box.
The economic benefits of mining are undeniable and must be supported. While we are blessed with beautiful lands, we also have a responsibility to be stewards of the natural splendor. We can and must find ways to support economic development while also protecting the environment and Nevada’s precious groundwater.
The best thing the federal government can do with regard to cannabis is lead or get out of the way. As your congressman, I would support efforts to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and leave this issue to the states. I would also support efforts to commute the sentences and expunge the criminal records of non-violent offenders languishing in prison for marijuana possession.